(Dayton Owens was the first official ‘Zookeeper’ of the Animals from 1978-1995)
The Animals section was started when FSU built the outfield wall and the fans in the outfield area moved inside the stadium behind the visiting team’s dugout.
The group was just a bunch of fans who loved baseball, but also loved giving the visiting team a hard time. In the spring of 1978, the name The Animals was born when “FSU’s #1 Fan” Sol called us that after we gave him a fake birthday cake and threw his stale donuts back at him. He said we were a bunch of Animals and we took the name with pride.
Over the next few years we grew in numbers and intimidation. We started developing our own cheers, jingles for players and other teams’ coaches or players. We had pizza delivered to University of Miami coach Ron Fraser in the middle of a game. We tried to pour oil on the Miami mascot to cook it; after which they quit bringing him to our games. The Animals picked up on the Baltimore Orioles guy with signs and the guy who spelled things out with his body, and so ‘The Fridge’ was born. He would jump on top of the visitors’ dugout and lead us in spelling out NOLES. When ‘The Fridge’ left, Steve ‘Mongo’ Budnik came in to take his place. The Mongo name came from the movie Blazing Saddles – need I say more! The Animals gained National fame when FSU went to Omaha for the college world series and a bunch of us came along. We set up our cheering section and had news interviews and the TV guys loved us. The Animals kept growing and being creative and then in mid 80′s we became The Animals of Section B, the ‘Zookeeper’ was born, and we became more and more a part of FSU baseball games. Please note that the team is always #1 priority we are just there for entertainment and to help the team any way possible.
The Zookeeper became responsible for getting season tickets, marketing, promotions, t-shirts, getting advertisers to help fund our Tequila habit and parties. The wiffle ball game became part of the Miami weekend; Gig the gators with real gator meat subs started in the late 80′s. Traditions were born such as O Canada, which came during the Winter Olympics in Calgary. FSU was playing a team from the north with a canadian kid on the roster, so in the 5th inning of the second game of the weekend we sang O Canada. While we were singing, FSU was at bat and got a rally; so we kept singing and we scored a bunch of runs. The next day we sang it again and we rallied again. Thus, the O Canada song became part of The Animals. The Zookeeper became the official contact and voice with FSU coaches, the administration and media. The importance of the Zookeepers cannot be understated.
We have had only three Zookeepers Dayton, Alan and Drew. This year we will have our 4th Zookeeper in Shannon. As you know we lost Drew in January and we are in mourning over his loss. It is vital that all the current and future Animals work with Shannon and the others who will help her keep us what we are: The Best Baseball Cheering Section in All of Baseball, not just college but at every level. So this year more than ever we need to be stronger, louder and more intimidating than ever – Drew would have wanted it that way. We are The Animals of Section B.