Bald eagle in surprise play lands on Mariners pitcher James Paxton during national anthem

Bald Eagle Lands on Mariners Pitcher During National Anthem

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — As Mariners' pitcher James Paxton held his hat over his heart during the national anthem at Thursday's game against the Twins in Minnesota, an eagle made a surprise play, suddenly coming in for a landing on Paxton's shoulder.

Bald eagle lands on James Paxton pregame

Just an 🦅 landing in a Big 🍁. James Paxton—fearless.

Posted by Seattle Mariners on Thursday, April 5, 2018
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Paxton, a Canadian with the nickname Big Maple, played it cool as talons clung to his shoulder – even standing up straight with the bird at one point before it flew away.

The patriotic scene in Minneapolis sparked awe across Twitter before the Minnesota Twins game.

The eagle’s name is Challenger. The raptor usually performs a  pre-game fly-in ceremony, but it decided to go rogue when landing on Paxton.

CBS Sports note that Challenger is apparently an esteemed member of the American Eagle Foundation and has taken his talents to five World Series, plenty of other huge sporting events and even Disney's Animal Kingdom. So Thursday's slip-up was pretty out of the ordinary for him.