MILWAUKEE -- Is Hank the Ballpark Pup...an imposter? That's the claim being made by a blogger at "BrewCrewBall.com" -- a Milwaukee Brewers baseball community, and others on social media. The speculation has led to the Milwaukee Brewers scheduling a news conference for Friday, March 4th at 11:00 a.m.
According to the Brewers, Hank’s story started when he first appeared at "Spring Training" on February 17th, 2014, the day of the first workout for Brewers pitchers and catchers. That morning, he wandered up to staff at the Brewers Maryvale facility after clearly being a homeless stray for an extended period of time.
Hank weighed 11 pounds, had been run over by a car and had two chipped teeth.
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Hank’s story quickly went viral, and his connection to the team became official when he found a permanent home in Milwaukee. His arrival in Milwaukee via a Southwest Airlines flight on March 16th was a celebrated event, with hundreds of fans waiting outside of security to meet Milwaukee’s most famous four-legger.
Hank's arrival in Milwaukee as attended by Chris Abele, the County Executive for Milwaukee County, and Tom Barrett, theMayor of Milwaukee.
Soon, fans met Hank at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
The team unveiled official Hank-themed merchandise. Over a thousand shirts, bearing the name "Hank" and the number "K9," were sold on the first day.
Hank was adopted by Marti Wronski, who works as the team's vice president and general counsel, and her family, who live in Whitefish Bay.
Hank is believed to be between two and three years old and a bichon frise mixed-breed.
By Opening Day 2014, Hank's weight had increased to 15 pounds.
Hank’s 2014 culminated in Los Angeles as he was named “Dog of the Year” in January 2015 at the nationally-televised World Dog Awards.
The blog post at BrewCrewBall.com suggests the roots of the rumor that Hank the Ballpark Pup is an imposter go back to a tweet posted by Twitter user @akschaaf in December 2015.
Travis Sarandos wrote the blog post.
"Didn`t necessarily mean to start a big, national controversy," Sarandos said. "I think it started around December, probably, with some of the side-by-side pictures."
In the blog post are a series of photos that compare the "original Hank" to the "replacement Hank."
CLICK HERE to view the photos.
This blog post -- and others on social media, claim "original Hank" and "replacement Hank" are two different dogs.
The blog post claims the "real" Hank the Ballpark pup died on June 30th, 2014 -- leading to the Brewers' subsequent collapse on the field.
"Like I said in the original article, it certainly doesn`t look like the same dog, but I understand dogs can change with a little bit of love and a better diet," Sarandos said.
Valerie Lesak says the 'real' Hank and the 'replacement' Hank are the same dog. Lesak is a dog groomer.
"That`s the same dog. We do that stuff all the time," Lesak said.
Lesak used 'Candy' as an example -- a rescue dog who was transformed after a good bathing.
"I`ve had dogs come in completely matted in one piece that you basically peel off of them with the shaver and they look like a whole different dog," Lesak said.
What do you think? Is Hank the Ballpark Pup an imposter?
Adam McCalvy, a beat writer for the Brewers, said this on Twitter on Tuesday:
Tyler Barnes, the vice president of communications for the Brewers responded to the rumors in an article at MLB.com entitled: "Attention world: There's only one Hank the Dog and he's just fine."