STORY WRITTEN BY SUE MANNING
LOS ANGELES (AP) — There’s no meowing in baseball — until now.
Joe DiMeowgio, Darryl Pawberry, Jose Catseco and other felines play in Hallmark Channel’s first “Paw Star Game” airing Sunday, two days before Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game.
Cats are making strides in their duel against dogs for favorite pet, with popular online videos, events such as CatConLA and new entertainment options for feline fans.
With the “Paw Star Game,” Hallmark Channel expanded its kitty accompaniments to major sports events. In the vein of its Super Bowl counterpart, the Kitten Bowl, cats don’t play baseball so much as romp across a tiny diamond or take a snooze on first base.
A kitten sometimes comes to the plate and paws at a ping-pong ball plopped on a tiny tee, taking aim at the miniature fences and crowds of paper people. The fielders may eyeball the orb as it zooms by or pounce on it, but base runners are easily distracted by other cats.
New York Yankees radio announcer John Sterling and sports commentator Mary Carillo call each “purr-fect” play. During practice rounds, they commented on “Cat Center” that players were catching zzz’s instead of baseballs and showed highlights of kitties sniffing, scratching and occasionally leaping for a ball.
Celebrities also stopped by, including actor Ed Asner, newscaster Al Roker, and TV hosts Maria Menounos and Mario Lopez.
While fun, the event also helped more than 90 kittens get adopted from two shelters in New York, where the show was filmed last year.
Hallmark soon will take its cat-centric sports events to the next level with the “Kitten Summer Games,” a series of “catletic” feats coinciding with the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The show still is being planned, but much like the others, it will require creative stagehands and camera crews to urge kittens to play around in small gyms, a miniature pool and mini tracks.
“Kittens are extremely versatile and multi-talented animals who can easily adjust to any form of play,” said Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark’s parent company.
“Paw Star Game,” 5 p.m. EDT/PDT Sunday, Hallmark Channel.