RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Ripken The Bat Dog, a 6-year-old black Labrador Retriever from Apex, has earned a huge social media following as he retrieves bats for the Durham Bulls and kickoff tees for the N.C. State football team.
"It's been crazy," said owner Michael O'Donnell. "You walk downtown and people go, 'I think that's Ripken.' And I start to laugh and I go, 'You're right, that is Ripken.' And they want to come over and get pets or 'pawtographs' is what we call them or pictures with them. So it's crazy how his fame is really blown up, but his head isn't any bigger."
Ripken will now take on a new sport when he drops the puck in the opening ceremony for the Carolina Hurricanes Stadium Series Game at Carter Finley Stadium on Saturday night against the Washington Capitals.
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"This is the pinnacle of his career so far, I think," O'Donnell said. "I think he took over Bo Jackson's title. Now, you know, he's a true three-sport athlete."
O'Donnell said Ripken has been practicing his big puck drop for weeks and he is ready for his moment in the spotlight.
"He's been walking around with that puck like a pacifier," O'Donnell added.