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BAKERSFIELD Ca. (Reuters) - Tara, a California cat that became a YouTube sensation after being videotaped interrupting a dog's attack on a small boy, "tossed out" a ceremonial pitch at the start of a minor league baseball game on Tuesday.
Roger Triantafilo uploaded video footage last week of a dog dragging his 4-year-old son, Jeremy, from his bicycle when the hero feline, Tara, ran to the rescue, broadsiding the dog and chasing it away.
The video has since amassed more than 21 million views on YouTube.
Jeremy, who suffered a bite to his leg as he was dragged off his bicycle by the dog before Tara lunged to his rescue, actually threw the first pitch of the game before handing the ball to his cat.
As the crowd at the Sam Lynn Ballpark cheered, parents Roger and Erica Triantafilo supported the cat's attempt to throw the ball to home plate by using her paw while staff from the Bakersfield Blaze baseball team used fishing wire to give the baseball the appearance of flying through the air.
The ball dropped straight to the ground, but the spectacle nonetheless drew a large crowd of "hero cat" fans to the stadium. Team staff said attendance for the Bakersfield team's game with the Lancaster Jethawks was nearly triple that of a usual Tuesday night game.
"I was blown away. That cat is a hero," said Tab Rowles, who attended with his daughter, Tatum. "I almost thought that there was some mechanical cat," Rowles added.
"Being the mother, every time I watch (the video) it stops my heart for a moment," Erica Triantafilo said. "Things could have been much worse without (Tara). We are just so thankful."
Reporting by Jennifer Chaussee, John Russell and Kevork Djansezian Editing by Chris Michaud