Rally swoops into the RORC for every home game, putting smiles on the faces of Ridgefield Raptors fans
Rally the Raptor, as legend says, leaves the nest at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge for every home baseball game, and also shows up several times a year at community events throughout Clark County.
That’s the life of the ambassador for the Ridgefield Raptors baseball club.
But just who is it who brings Rally to life? This year, it is a student from Mountain View High School who loves theater and the arts and says he just might have the best first job any teenager could hold.
Rally the Raptor does not speak. But Rally can thank Elias Gardner for giving Rally a voice at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
“Other jobs people my age do … they don’t get to see the impact as much as I do,” Gardner said. “I get to see the kids smile.”
As far as the baseball club is concerned, Rally is real. The Raptors, though, understand there needs to be a human spirit inside the costume to bring out the best in Rally.
Gardner is an incoming junior at Mountain View. He has been in the arts with Journey Theater for a few years, including some work with improvisation. He said he has been nervous prior to his traditional stage performances but never once in his role as Rally.
“With this, no one can see my face,” Gardner said. “No one knows who I am. They don’t see me. They see Rally. Rally is not the type to be nervous.”
Nope, no nerves from Rally. He proudly wears No. 19, symbolizing the team’s debut season of 2019, and his feathers are never ruffled.
“I don’t have to be nervous because it’s not me out there,” Gardner said.
Rally arrives at the RORC early so Rally can be there to welcome fans. For the rest of the night, Rally walks all over the facility, visiting every section.
“You’ve got to be energetic and engaging,” Gardner said. “Lot of kids come up and ask for autographs. I get a lot of high-fives and knuckle bumps.”
Yes, the bird is in demand.
“I don’t see my autograph as something special,” Gardner said. “But these kids, they love Rally’s autograph.”
When a child retrieves a foul ball and brings it to Rally, Rally will sign it. And sometimes, Rally will get the players to sign the ball, as well.
Rally also might be the most photogenic bird in the county. Rally never turns down an opportunity to show off Rally’s plumage.
Gardner also knows a little bit of sign language. Again, Rally does not speak, but if other children know sign language, they can communicate that way, thanks to Gardner.
“Rally is probably our biggest brand,” said Gus Farah, the team’s general manager. “It’s a community, family event that we put on here. Yes, it’s baseball, but it’s really about community and gathering. It’s family-affordable entertainment. Rally means a lot to us.”
Rally also is a hit with the players. Rally gives a pre-game good-luck hug to one player and has different dances for other players.
“They all treat me well. They appreciate what I do,” Gardner said.
So do the fans.
“He’s an ambassador, and the ambassador that he is, he makes sure kids are having fun,” Farah said. “When you think of the Raptors, you’re thinking of Rally.”
Notes: The Ridgefield Raptors have a non-league home game at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday against the Highline Bears. After an off day Thursday, the Raptors will return to West Coast League action when they host Walla Walla for a three-game series Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Sunday’s game is also Bark in the Park day. Fans can bring their dogs to the game. For ticket information: https://ridgefieldraptors.com/.