“I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat,” 51-year-old Tim Lepard yelled passionately into his mic. After a very necessary dramatic pause, the cowboy told us what group he really identified with: “I’m an American.” The Frederick crowd roared with approval.

That quote summed up a strange night at Harry Grove Stadium, where it was both Cowboy Monkey Rodeo night and Rubber Ducky giveaway night (and fireworks too).

Somewhere in there, a minor-league baseball game between the Frederick Keys and Winston-Salem Dash happened too. It was no less weird.

Keys’ starter Trent Howard got ejected in the third inning for yelling a very audible eff you to the home plate umpire. Miguel Chalas, his replacement, then struggled with control issues, hitting four Winston-Salem batters. In the fifth inning, I caught one of five Mattress Discounters Warehouse stuffed animals trebuchet’d into the stands by Keyote, the Keys mascot. Boomshakalaka.

The Keys lost their (game-long) lead in the ninth and then won it back at the bottom of the inning when Brandon Hardin walked Glynn Davis [shudders at the thought of the name] with the bases loaded.

That was just the opening act. When Lepard came onto the field with three leashed monkeys riding dogs and four very skittish rams, the crowd erupted.

The monkeys, dressed — naturally– in wild west baby clothes, herded the rams twice, while Lepard — crowned Mesquite Champion Bullfighter in 1988 — told us things like, “I’m living the American dream.” Lepard, who’s currently filming a reality TV show with A&E which will air later this year, appeared more winded than his livestock by the end of the show.

I documented my night at the ballpark in 40 photos. Please enjoy. And yes, this really happened.

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