While the world is speeding up, baseball is slowing down, and the Savannah Bananas are determined to provide the best fan experience of anywhere in the world. MarketScale followed the team during their week-long lead-up to Opening Day 2018 to see how the Bananas sellout games in a town where baseball has failed for decades. If you haven’t watched episode one and two, you can catch up on all the action right here.
Something that makes baseball unique is that it is one of the only team sports that does not have a clock. Every out is earned and gives a side a chance to fight back no matter the deficit. When running a baseball team however, the clock is among the most adversarial elements to deal with.
On opening day, the Savannah Bananas’ front office staff is running out of time. More than 4,000 fans stand outside the gates hours before first pitch. The supporters have high expectations not only for the team, but the entertainment production that has been promised to them. The Bananas welcome their in-state rival, the Macon Bacon, to Grayson Stadium for the first game of the 2018 season and energy at the park is high among spectators, players and staffers.
Before the game, Team Owner Jesse Cole must make sure every corner of 92-year-old Grayson Stadium is presentable and in working order. Electrical issues, a lack of signage and loose wiring are all evident throughout his preliminary walk-through of the park just hours before gates open.
The heat is on Cole and Director of Fun Tyler Gray, who are working together for the first time on a game day. Other workers are feeling the heat physically though, as temperatures push triple digits. The concession stand kitchens are even hotter.
While Cole and his staff are focused on providing a ‘fans first’ experience, Director of First Impressions Keke Coles is dealt the tough task of managing a team that cannot efficiently function in the heat. Before the first pitch is thrown, an ambulance is needed to assist a kitchen worker who has passed out because of the extraordinary temperatures in the kitchen.
Team president Jared Orton steps up to assist the shorthanded kitchen staff in order to meet the demand of an all-you-can-eat food line. The time to first pitch continues to dwindle, and Jesse must make sure the pre-game entertainment schedule goes as planned amidst the safety and logistical challenges.
When the game begins, the staff must continue with its game plan amidst the tumultuous circumstances. Fans have been promised free food and an entertaining show, which does not allow for stumbles from Cole and his crew. A lack of two-way radios only makes this a more difficult challenge.
Baseball conjures a feeling of leisure and relaxation among fans. A ballpark is a place to relax and enjoy summer evenings. For a baseball staff however, there is no time to waste. In a short summer season, the Savannah Bananas’ front office is in a constant race against the clock that does not stop at first pitch.
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