NEW YORK — Ladies and gentlemen, now warming up in the Westminster dogpen, the Bronx Bowser.

Meet sweet Mitch, a 5-year-old yellow Labrador retriever. He's a rookie at America's top dog show, yet he comes with a pinstripe pedigree – his co-owner is New York Yankees President Randy Levine.

"He's like Derek Jeter. Very calm," Levine said.

So on the week baseball spring training begins for pitchers and catchers, Levine will be among the pinschers and cockers. The Westminster Kennel Club show starts Monday, with Mitch set to walk the show ring on Tuesday morning.

"I don't think Randy would be half as excited if it was the World Series," fellow co-owner and breeder Tom Flaherty said.

Mitch is following a long trail of Yankees pawprints. Lou Gehrig, one of the original Bronx Bombers, brought his German shepherd to Madison Square Garden. Former ace Mike Mussina sent his Irish setter. Jacob Ruppert, the team owner who acquired Babe Ruth, showed St. Bernards.

The 137th Westminster features 2,721 entries in 187 breeds and varieties and includes a pair of newcomers, the treeing Walker coonhound and the Russell terrier.

Among the top contenders are a prime Doberman named Veni Vidi Vici that reached the best-of-seven final ring last year, a big-winning wire fox terrier, a German wirehaired pointer ranks as the nation's No. 1 show dog and a prized American foxhound.

"A strong field," veteran Westminster broadcaster David Frei said.

Malachy the Pekingese wobbled off the green carpet with the best in show bowl last February. His 9-month-old grandson is entered this time.

The herding, toy, nonsporting and hound group winners will be chosen Monday night on CNBC. The working, sporting and terrier champs come Tuesday night on the USA Network, with judge Michael Dougherty making his pick – along with a first runner-up – shortly before 11 p.m.

Wearing a Yankees dog collar, and falling asleep on a pinstriped blanket while listening to Josh Groban songs, Mitch is among 54 Labs in the show (golden retrievers lead with 61). By the way, the Yankees in their century-plus history have never had a player named Mitch.

"Mitch is one of the kindest dogs ever. A very kind nature, a very kind face," said Flaherty, of Mount Bethel, Pa. "He has never met anyone or any animal he didn't like."

Labs have long been among the country's most popular dogs, but have never won at Westminster. Nor have golden retrievers, Dachshunds or Chihuahuas.

"A Labrador is not a flashy dog. They're not showy dogs. They're just not something your eye is drawn to," Flaherty said.

Levine, a former New York City deputy mayor in Rudolph Giuliani's administration and known for his rugged negotiating style, did not grow up with pets.

His first pet was a goldfish, Hoover, which he shared with wife Mindy. The couple now have four dogs living with them – over the years, they've filled their Manhattan apartment with rescue, therapy and special needs dogs, and Levine is on the board of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Officially named Hedgelawn's Sharper Image, Mitch has achieved grand champion status in the dog world. He's also a descendant of Mr. Reid, Levine's beloved Lab.

Frequently a spectator at this show, Levine is eager to participate this time.

"This is Mitch's first time. Let him get his paws wet," he said. "I'm excited. It's like a playoff game for me. It's Westminster, it's the whole environment."

Levine realizes some fans paying $25 per ticket might stop by to chat with him about pennants, more than pooches.

"That's OK," he said. "Let them come to cheer for Mitch."

Loading Slideshow...
  • Mac, an Australian Terrier from Sarasota, Fla., runs on a treadmill in a doggie spa inside the Hotel Pennsylvania, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in New York. The hotel is located across the street from Madison Square Garden, home of the Westminster Dog Show, which is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • Owner Darla Daugherty, of Danville, Ind., arrives with her Great Pyrenees named Beren, the No. 1 in his class, and a Cason named Sully at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. The hotel, directly across from Madison Square Garden, houses dogs participating in the Westminster Dog Show, which is scheduled to run Monday and Tuesday. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • A pair of Neopolitan Bull Mastifs named Paparazzi and Ruben ride the elevator with their owners after checking into the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in preparation for the Westminster Dog Show, which is Monday and Tuesday. The hotel is located directly across from Madison Square Garden, where the show is held. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • A Miniature Schnauzer named "Mocha" sits in a baby carriage while waiting in the lobby at the Hotel Pennsylvania Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, across from Madison Square Garden, home to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is Monday and Tuesday in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • Randy Levine

    In this undated family handout, New York Yankees president Randy Levine poses with Labrador retrievers. The Westminster dog show begins its two-day run on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, and warming up in the dogpen is the Bronx Bowser, a Labrador retriever named Mitch (not shown) co-owned by Levine. (AP Photo/Mindy Levine)

  • Juliette, a Bernese Mountain dog, is shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Oscar, a Greater Swiss Mountain dog, is shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. The show features dogs from 187 different breeds and varieties with a pair of newcomers, the treeing Walker coonhound and the Russell terrier. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Turbo, a Russell terrier, is shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. The show features dogs from 187 different breeds and varieties with a pair of newcomers, the treeing Walker coonhound and the Russell terrier. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Keaton, a Tibetan terrier, is shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Aristocrat, a St. Bernard, is shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Steed

    Steed, a berzoi, looks to his handler during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Mia, a Chihuahua, is shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Xcetera, left, and Meg, treeing Walker coonhounds, are shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. The show features dogs from 187 different breeds and varieties with a pair of newcomers, the treeing Walker coonhound and the Russell terrier. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Chile, an Afghan hound, is shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Malachy

    2012 Westminster Kennel Club dog show best in show winner, Malachy, a Pekingese, is shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Aristocrat, a St. Bernard, is shown during a press conference to announce the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A Treeing Walker Coonhound lays down during a news conference in New York, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Treeing Walker Coonhounds are one of two breeds competing for the first time this year in the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 11. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Curt Willis goes nose-to-nose with his Treeing Walker Coonhound during a news conference in New York, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Treeing Walker Coonhounds are one of two breeds competing for the first time this year in the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 11. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Russell Terriers appear during a news conference in New York, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Russell Terriers are one of two breeds competing for the first time this year in the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 11. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • The two new breeds eligible to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the Treeing Walker Coonhound, left, and the Russell Terrier, make each other's acquaintance during a news conference in New York, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. The 137th show is scheduled to run for two days starting on Feb. 11. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • The two new breeds eligible to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the Treeing Walker Coonhound, left, and the Russell Terrier, make each other's acquaintance during a news conference in New York, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. The 137th show is scheduled to run for two days starting on Feb. 11. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Treeing Walker Coonhounds are photographed during a news conference in New York, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Treeing Walker Coonhounds are one of two breeds competing for the first time this year in the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 11. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Russell Terriers are held during a news conference in New York, on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Russell Terriers are one of two breeds competing for the first time this year in the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 11. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)