The Warner Wonder
Hero or GOAT
illustration by brad fitzpatrick
When most New England sports fans talk about goats these days, as baseball season blends seamlessly into football season, they’re probably referring to Tom Brady. Because Brady is the “GOAT.”
Not the lowercase “goat,” as in the guy who lost the game with a crucial error; Brady is the all-caps GOAT, meaning in modern parlance the Greatest Of All Time.
Long before Brady, though, a baseball player named Ralph Cutting was the GOAT of Warner, New Hampshire — and he brought a goat to the game.
It happened when Cutting, nicknamed the “Warner Wonder,” was pitching for the old Milwaukee Brewers. On an off-day when no game was scheduled, Cutting showed up at the team’s Borchert Field ballpark with a real, live goat and pronounced it the team’s mascot.
It was cute, but not everyone liked the idea — especially after Cutting pitched the next day and lost by giving up a late-inning home run.
According to borchertfield.com, a website devoted to the old Brewers, some of his teammates immediately began thinking that the goat would make a better meal than a mascot.
“That night, an indignation meeting was held and ‘Sluggie’ Walter [a local tavern-keeper] and a number of players wanted to ... give the goat the proper treatment that a jinx is supposed to get,” read an old Milwaukee Journal story.
But Cutting and his supporters were able to save the animal, probably because the Warner-born pitcher had faith in it.
“It’s an educated goat,” he said. “Look at it follow the groundskeeper around and help him to take up the bases [after a game]. That goat knows what they are for.”
Cutting also believed the goat became “more tranquil” whenever he got a hit.
Fans began appreciating the animal too, and it was soon nicknamed Fatima. At the end of the year, when the fans traveled by train to a crucial out-of-state series, they brought Fatima along for good luck. When the Brewers won, the goat got part of the credit.
Most of the time, however, she simply added an extra dose of entertainment.
“Fatima, Ralph Cutting’s nanny, jumped out on the field in the sixth inning, and stopped the game while half the Brewer team chased it around the lot,” according to a 1914 Milwaukee Sentinel story. “[She] led the athletes on a merry chase. A handsome youth finally inveigled her into the grandstand with a bag of peanuts and the pastime proceeded after the bugs” — an early nickname for fans — “had been given a big laugh.”
Unfortunately, the bugs developed a habit of feeding Fatima ballpark food, which caused intestinal stress. Eventually, the story concluded, “she was put on a diet of tin cans and old baseball shirts and was resting easily.”
With Cutting — and Fatima — on their side, the Brewers won two championships. Then the pitcher (and, presumably, the pet-turned-mascot) returned to New Hampshire to retire in the Concord area.
It was a fitting ending for both the GOAT and his goat.