When the minor league Sand Gnats announced they were leaving Savannah, many thought Grayson Stadium’s lights would be dimmed for a long time. But, Jesse and Emily Cole had other ideas with a seasonal league team comprised of college athletes. N.W. Gabbey spends opening day with the boys of summer—and discovers what it really means to make “the show.” Here’s his play-by-play.
5:40 a.m.: Husband-and-wife team owners Jesse and Emily Cole arrive at Grayson Stadium to begin what will be a long and busy day and an exciting first season in Savannah.
5:40:22 a.m.: Jesse puts on his yellow top hat.
5:44 a.m.: Already walking fast, having done his morning run on Tybee earlier than usual, Jesse says, “Win the morning, win the day.”
5:50 a.m.: Jesse says that 3600 All-You-Can-Eat tickets are sold for tonight, smiles, and wonders how they will serve everyone.
5:51 a.m.: He says that Emily, who is the team’s Operations Manager as well, has slept 47 minutes in the last two weeks.
5:54 a.m.: Jesse finishes the first of three bananas.
5:57 a.m.: Jesse asks me to guess how many steps he will walk today.
5:57:08 a.m.: I guess 26,000.
5:57:11 a.m.: He says, “Good guess.”
6:04 a.m.: Team President Jared Orton unlocks the stadium gate, accompanied by Daisy, the team’s bat dog.
6:09:50 a.m.: Daisy runs off momentarily.
6:10:25 a.m.: Daisy is found.
6:15 a.m.: The two news crews play with Daisy between live shots.
6:24 a.m.: Jared heads up to the deck to look at the new barstools with partner Steve Delay, who flew in from Las Vegas and landed in Savannah at 1 a.m.
6:40 a.m. Jared runs from his WSAV live interview in the grandstand to his second interview with WJCL back out front.
6:44 a.m.: Jared, Jesse, and Steve discuss breakfast options.
6:45 a.m.: Steve heads to Chick-fil-A.
6:51 a.m.: Jared does his second live interview with Courtney Cole from WSAV.
6:58 a.m.: Ashley Liotus snags Jared for one more live stand-up on the field.
6:58:47 a.m.: Jared hands me Daisy’s leash.
7:03 a.m.: Daisy drinks from my water bottle.
7:12 a.m.: Steve returns with Chick-fil-A.
7:15 a.m.: A phone rings in the office. Emily answers it: another news crew has arrived. Daisy (and Jared) is needed for another interview. Jared is eating his chicken biscuit.
7:28 a.m.: Alan Cables of Stadium1 comes in with coffee for everyone. (Jesse and Emily don’t drink coffee. Honestly, they could give coffee energy.)
7:41 a.m.: Jesse and Jared riff for a few minutes on their opening pep talk for their staff. Jesse channels his inner Kurt Russell-as-Herb Brooks and gives The Speech for Miracle verbatim.
7:44 a.m.: Head Groundskeeper Jill Dawn and Keith Johnson, both of the City of Savanna Leisure Services, gear up to head out to the field.
7:46 a.m.: Jesse leaves the office and walks by, continuing to memorize The Speech as he listens to it on his cell.
8:00 a.m.: Marla Rooker and Devero Bogart from WTOC set up their camera outside the stadium entrance and wait for Jared to do his stand-up with them.
8:21 a.m.: Director of Fan Development Austin Glasscox walks out onto the field for a warm-up lap.
8:25 a.m.: Frank Pinter, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds for the City of Savannah, oversees the edging of new sod down both basepaths as Jill Dawn fills in worn patches with soil.
8:34 a.m.: Back in the office, Community Outreach Director Lizzy O’Connell says, “The phone keeps ringing.”
8:46 a.m.: Lizzy and Office Coordinator Tina Dearwester continue to field phone calls and to print off tickets that have been requested for Friday night’s game.
8:55 a.m.: Zaxby’s owners Cale Rowland and Jenny Booker, owners of several local Zaxby’s franchises, arrive to talk to Steve about a game-ticket deal.
9:02 a.m.: Nine City of Savannah maintenance trucks are now parked here and there outside the stadium, and grounds crew picks up garbage and strew pine needles around garden beds.
9:03 a.m.: Jared gathers the interns on the promenade.
9:04 a.m.: Jesse emerges, donned in his banana yellow tuxedo.
9:05 a.m.: He nails The Speech: Herb Brooks could not have rallied his team any better.
9:05:40 a.m.: Jesse tells his interns, “You were born to be Bananas!”
9:12 a.m.: The entire staff and interns are in the offices, setting to work on a ‘to do’ list 40 items deep. At its top is written in bold “Fans First. Entertain Always. Over-prepare, over-deliver!”
9:14 a.m.: Jesse sits down to write his three ‘thank you’ notes, something he does every day.
9:17 a.m.: Emily walks by and adds something to the ‘to do’ list.
9:23 a.m.: The baselines and aprons are perfectly edged, and the first base coach’s box is sprayed.
9:27 a.m.: Intern Jonathan Wood unpacks and unwraps more new barstools and sets up the media deck, high up in the grandstand behind home plate.
9:34 a.m.: Every seat and bench in the stadium is wiped clean by hand by Superior Janitorial Services employees.
9:42 a.m.: Jesse walks back into the office, sans yellow tux, and says, “It is a circus.”
9:47 a.m.: Like a magic trick, Jesse comes through a different office door, calling out, “Over-prepare, over-deliver. Right, Tina? Over-prepare, over-deliver.”
9:47:34 a.m.: Lizzy answers another phone call. She listens for a few seconds and says in a sad voice, “We’re are all sold out.”
10:00 a.m.: Intern Britt Shisler carries out a basket full of team uniforms and says, “I’m the laundry girl now.” After the road trip, the Bananas need their homes washed and ready for the game tonight.
10:14 a.m.: The concrete concourse along the right field line gets power-washed, and interns Berry Aldridge and Patrick Briody set up the upper deck beer garden.
10:25 a.m.: The pitching rubber is placed and gleams bright white.
10:30 a.m.: Bananas Head Coach Sean West comes into the office, fresh off of the team’s first win on Thursday night in Holly Springs.
10:38 a.m.: Tina and Coach West help two players with their contracts, which have to be sent in to the league office by 11 a.m.
10:48 a.m.: Intern photographer Ben Sheffield takes headshots of first baseman Hunter Bening and outfielder Connor Stephens in the Banana Stand, both players wearing their home white jerseys.
10:50 a.m.: Intern Liz Bushaw draws a hot dog (referring to a Google image on her phone) on one of the ‘All-You-Can-Eat’ placards.
10:54 a.m.: John Henderson and City of Savannah technicians continue to ready the main concessions stand, filling the cold cases with bottles of water, cases of beer, bricks of cheese, and patties of burger.
11:00 a.m.: The third base coach’s box is sprayed. Frank Pinter smiles, and he and his grounds crew are are sweaty and with good reason.
11:02 a.m.: John Shirley, Administrator for the City of Savannah Buildings and Grounds, moves from one conversation beneath the stadium with John Henderson to the field to check in with Frank and Jill.
11:10 a.m.: The front office is actually quiet. Lizzy cuts Savannah Bananas Baseball Camps fliers that will be handed out tonight.
11:12 a.m.: Peace is short-lived: another person comes in to pick up her tickets.
11:14 a.m.: Steve Delay, Tina, and Marie Gentry, Director of Sponsor Services, discuss how best to attack data entry of ticket purchasers, both online and phone order.
11:19 a.m.: Jesse’s parents arrive, and his stepmom enters with the joke, “Do you have any more tickets for tonight?”
11:20 a.m.: The four gigantic grandstand fans are turned on.
11:27 a.m.: Lizzy answers another phone call, her sad voice perfected and genuine, and says, “It is.” – an answer obviously made to the question, “Is the game tonight sold out?”
11:32 a.m.: Jared emerges from his office and closes the door behind him quickly and gently: Daisy is napping.
11:34 a.m.: The stadium audio system is checked: “Piano Man”.
11:40 a.m.: In the Banana Stand, Liz and Britt sell merch to fans who are there to pick up tickets but who obviously want to come to the game properly attired.
11:42 a.m.: Two landscape crewmen come in to buy baseball caps.
11:48 a.m.: The infield sprinklers turn on.
11:54 a.m.: Jesse asks about the ‘to do’ list, “Are we crossing things off?”
11:58 a.m.: Fourteen items have been crossed off.
11:59 a.m.: No one has stopped working to break into the catered lunch.
12:34 p.m.: Jared takes Daisy out for potty.
1:03 p.m.: Lizzy books another birthday party online: that’s six already on the calendar, including one tonight and two on Friday.
1:08 p.m.: The Budweiser truck arrives, having no idea what it is in for, and Jared instructs the delivery men where all the kegs need to go.
1:11 p.m. A tower crane ladder rises at the scoreboard in center field to hang a Bananas banner – a ‘Banner,’ if you will.
1:13 p.m.: Groundskeeper Donna Mosher lays out the batter’s boxes.
1:16 p.m.: Corporate Marketing Director Mitch Torres and Patrick try to hide near the left field stands as they practice their Bananas Boys dance moves: more to follow.
1:21 p.m.: Jesse greets the umpires and shows them into the stadium.
1:26 p.m.: I step in gum.
1:37 p.m.: Jesse has gained energy as the day has gone by, and he picks up empty boxes which Patrick then grabs from him to throw out.
1:58 p.m.: Emily lays out bidding sheets on tables next to the Banana Stand. She tells me that the players will be wearing green jerseys tonight because green is an unripe banana – get it? – and those jerseys will be auctioned off, the entirety of the proceeds going to the Bananas’ Field of Dreams non-profit efforts.
2:00 p.m.: Mitch walks down the office hall and says, “I was going someplace to do something, but I can’t remember what.”
2:05 p.m.: Donna Mosher comes up into the stands to enjoy a stadium view of her hard work and artistry in green, brown, and white.
2:34 p.m.: Jared, Mitch, and Director of Group Sales Daniel Mackerty set up tables outside the ticket windows.
2:40 p.m.: Frank and Donna hand-water the infield dirt.
2:46 p.m.: John tests the Slippery Banana: rum, banana daiquiri premix, and triple sec.
2:46:04 p.m.: It passes.
2:54 p.m.: Director of Entertainment Will Swisher holes up in the merch closet with his laptop to review the promotions itinerary for the night.
2:58 p.m.: The Banana Bunch (a.k.a. game-day employees) begin showing up, and Emily shows them to their stations and details their duties.
2:59 p.m.: Not a soul is on the field itself, but it is majestic and ready for baseball with four hours to spare.
3:05 p.m.: Patrick looks at the ‘to do’ list and says to Jesse, “Give me something to do right now.”
3:06 p.m.: Emily tells Jesse that there is no power up on the media deck.
3:07 p.m.: Jesse gets a phone call: the walkie-talkies are not working.
3:08:20 p.m: The ‘to do’ list for today is down to 15.
3:08:21 p.m.: The ‘to do’ list from Thursday still has 20.
3:10 p.m.: Britt restocks t-shirts in the Banana Stand and tells some fans that they are already sold out of mediums in a couple items.
3:18 p.m.: Jared drinks half a glass of iced water.
3:20 p.m.: Jesse cruises by (same speed) but stops to ask Jared, “How are you? Do you need water?” He then pauses a beat and says, “I need a drink of water.”
3:22 p.m.: Austin’s mom and little brother come into the office. They have driven down from North Carolina for the game.
3:23 p.m.: Players begin to trickle into the stadium, one by one, and head into the locker room.
3:32 p.m.: Daniel and Tina tell Jesse that they can’t keep up with Friday night’s ticket sales and data entry.
3:33 p.m.: WTOC’s Mike Cihla and Cristina Tuso come into the office with the crew. Jesse gets Mike wristbands for tonight and tells him that they have sold more than 4,000 tickets.
3:41 p.m.: Steve takes a break from hours at his laptop and comes out to look at the field – and to stretch his hamstrings.
3:48 p.m.: Will, Mitch, Berry, and Harrison meet at the picnic table by third base to go through their mid-inning promotions script.
3:53 p.m.: The entire Bananas roster are on the right field foul line to start their warm-ups.
3:55:10 p.m.: High knees.
3:55:25 p.m.: Butt kicks.
4:01 p.m.: A single roll of thunder from out near Tybee is heard.
4:04 p.m.: Soft toss.
4:07 p.m.: Long toss.
4:08 p.m.: Coaches West and Travis Graves both take a knee to hit infield practice.
4:10 p.m.: Mike Cihla does his first live hit of the night in the grandstand.
4:20 p.m.: Mark the Shark, the stadium PA man, cuts the music to check his voice levels.
4:21 p.m.: The players bring out the screens and tarps to protect the infield – and each other – for batting practice.
4:25 p.m.: A handful of fans are gathered outside the stadium, sitting on the promenade wall.
4:33 p.m.: The Old Savannah Tours trolley appears, somewhat surreptitiously, and parks in the shade of the left field grove.
4:55 p.m.: The two-man band of guitarist Ben Lewis (of The Kind Dub) and saxophonist Denton Schultz set up their gear on the upper deck beer garden.
4:57 p.m.: Daniel says the Blowfish haven’t yet shown up.
5:01 p.m.: The pitchers break the huddle when Cristina Tuso brings over her selfie-stick camera on which she is live Facebook-streaming what is going on at the stadium.
5:05 p.m.: Jesse is once again decked out in yellow from head to toe: top hat, tux, and leather shoes.
5:06 p.m.: He says that they have fielded 300 phone calls in the last 30 minutes asking if the game has been
cancelled due to the weather.
5:08 p.m.: Split, the Bananas mascot who is himself a banana, makes his first appearance of the night and takes a photo with a young fan before strutting below decks, handing out high fives to everyone he passes.
5:10 p.m.: Jared tells Jonathan that they need to find a parking attendant…immediately.
5:10:27 p.m.: Jared calls out to everyone in the main concessions stand, “I need someone who isn’t doing anything right now.”
5:10:48 p.m.: He has his parking attendant.
5:15 p.m.: Jesse sees them and gives them directions to ‘chill out’ in the locker room a little while longer until he is ready for them. Every act in the show is timed, down to the second. It is not yet time for this reveal.
5:17:16 p.m.: Another roll of thunder.
5:20 p.m.: Jesse opens the front gates to let folks in out of the rain.
5:47 p.m.: Jesse tells me that 22 Banana Bunch crew members have not yet shown up; they were supposed to have been here at 4:00.
5:47:12 p.m.: “When it rains, it pours,” he says with a smile.
5:50 p.m.: Still no Blowfish.
5:55 p.m.: Jesse brings out six players in their ‘unripe banana’ green jerseys and introduces them to the waiting crowd to cheers.
5:58 p.m.: More than half of the fans who have arrived are already wearing Bananas gear.
6:00 p.m.: Jesse calls out for everyone’s attention and opens the stadium for tonight’s game.
6:00:50 p.m.: Marie passes by Will, adorned in bright yellow suspenders, shorts, and high top Chucks, and gives him a high five.
6:02 p.m. John Henderson hands Jonathan a case of bananas – on sale for a $1 each tonight.
6:04 p.m.: Jesse remains at the center gate, personally greeting fans one at a time.
6:05:04 p.m.: Split gives a hug a young fan.
6:05:10 p.m.: Her sister gets a hug from the mascot.
6:07 p.m.: Mayor Eddie DeLoach comes in and shakes hands with the player greeters.
6:12 p.m.: Pearson DeLoach, the Coordinator of Grayson Stadium and City of Savannah Leisure Services Legend, has some fun and ‘introduces’ the Mayor to Jesse, saying, “Have you met the governor of Savannah?”
6:13 p.m.: Another rumble of thunder, but the fans keep filing in.
6:21 p.m.: Emily walks by with three industrial-sized rolls of toilet paper.
6:22 p.m.: Mark the Shark announces over the PA that the game’s first pitch will be pushed back a half an hour due to the rain.
6:33 p.m.: Will paces around, banana in hand, to psych himself up for the show.
6:41 p.m.: Bananas Clint Hardy and Josh Ragan entertain the fans who are patiently watching more and more rain fall with a full-speed tarp slide.
6:41:19 p.m.: Their teammates all come out of the dugout to video the tarp slide on their phones.
6:41:30 p.m.: Over the PA, Jesse cries out, “The first tarp slide in Savannah Bananas history!” to the raucous cheers of the crowd.
6:45 p.m.: Just outside the stadium, a half-dozen guys in banana costumes are tailgating between raindrops.
6:53 p.m.: The rain just does not want to let up.
7:04 p.m.: Fans continue to pour (pun totally intended) through the main gate.
7:10 p.m.: Two Bananas players are out on the tarp dancing for the crowd.
7:10:46 p.m.: Jared – that’s Savannah Bananas President Jared Orton – serves hot dogs to fans in the box seats.
7:18 p.m.: Jesse invites the Banana Nanas to the field – the team’s Senior Citizen Dance Troupe – and these ladies, all between 60 and 80 years young, dance to “Happy”.
7:33:28 p.m.: Jesse calls out to the crowd over the PA, “Are you ready to get this show started?”
7:33:30 p.m.: Easily more than three-thousand people cheer.
7:34 p.m.: Bananas players hit the field in their BP togs to pull up the tarp. Mark the Shark cues up the theme from Rocky.
7:45 p.m.: A fan who may or may not have been naked under a banana costume (insert joke here) walks conspicuously down the concourse, greatly smiled at by all.
7:48 p.m.: Donna and Frank are back out on their beautiful field to rake drying compound down the third baseline and in the puddles around first base.
8:01 p.m.: The setting sun sinks beneath the cloud cover and washes the opening in the stadium by first base in a fitting yellow light.
8:05 p.m.: Jesse introduces Will, who runs into the grandstand to find a volunteer to throw out the…(wait for it)…first banana.
8:06 p.m.: Will brings a young fan named Jack onto the field.
8:07 p.m.: Jack throws a banana-strike to Banana pitcher Ryan Flores.
8:10 p.m.: Little League teams from Richmond Hill, Bluffton, South Bryan County, and Berrien County run down the right field line and through a gauntlet of Bananas.
8:14 p.m.: Mayor DeLoach jogs out to the mound to deliver the ceremonial first pitch.
8:15 p.m.: The Mayor throws a sinker for a low strike and walks off to receive a handshake from Split.
8:23 p.m.: The Old Savannah Tours trolley drives onto the field, the Bananas starters onboard. As each is announced, a player from the Berrien County Little League team joins him as they run out to the various positions.
8:29 p.m.: Will brings another little fan out to the field, and Mikaela shots into his mic, “Play ball!”
8:30:45 p.m.: Starting leftie Adam Scott delivers the first pitch at home in Savannah Bananas history.
8:30:47 p.m.: Strike one.
8:32 p.m.: A line shot is stabbed by first baseman Hunter Bening for the first out recorded by a Banana at Grayson Stadium.
8:37:06 p.m.: Blowfish Head Coach Johnson comes out to make the first protest by a visiting manager at a Savannah Bananas home game.
8:37:20 p.m.: Coach Johnson returns to the dugout unrequited.
8:40:20 p.m.: From the garage door in center field, Split comes riding out on an ATV four-wheeler, driven by Mitch. Stickers on the ATV read ‘Go Bananas!’ and ‘Let’s peel out!’
8:42 p.m.: Jesse runs through the stadium concourse throwing t-shirts to people in the crowd. He waves his arms and dances, putting his hand to his ear to cajole the fans into making more noise.
8:43 p.m.: Split walks off the field, and a little girl says to him, “Hi, Banana.”
8:45 p.m.: The stadium is filled to – or beyond – capacity. Fans have filled the metal bleachers and all three wooden decks overlooking right field.
8:45:10 p.m.: Bananas leadoff hitter Christian Hollie strikes out.
8:46:20 p.m.: The Bananas have their first-ever base runner at home as shortstop Clay Dungan works a walk.
8:48 p.m.: Dungan is thrown out at second on a steal attempt.
8:55 p.m.: Jesse asks me, “What do you think so far?”
8:56 p.m.: He takes out his phone to show me his step count for the day: over 29,000. My guess is shattered.
8:58 p.m.: Jesse talks to me about how the dead air as a baseball game is going on makes him nervous, something he thinks about so much. He so wants the fans to be entertained at every moment.
9:05 p.m.: A bunch of Bananas players line up along the first baseline and dance a choreographed routine to Sugar Hill Gang’s “Apache”, complete with mimed lasso twirls. If you weren’t in Coach West’s starting lineup tonight, you got to dance.
9:07:41 p.m.: A father with a son decked out in Cubs gear comes up to Jesse and asks if he can take their picture. Jesse says, “Of course.
9:08 p.m.: Another father asks Jesse for the photo op with his daughter.
9:08:20 p.m.: And another. Jesse’s smile is huge.
9:11:20 p.m.: Jesse is running around with the selfie-stick. In the bleachers on the first base side, everywhere he stops, fans throw their hands in the air and cheer.
9:15:45 p.m.: Daniel, who is prepping the Legacy Dancers in the first base entryway, tells me that he is so dehydrated. “Tomorrow, bring a water bottle,” he says.
9:16:05 p.m.: Mark the Shark tries “Day-O” on the crowd for the first time. The three call-and-responses get a little louder each time, though none are enough to stir Harry Belafonte’s spirit.
9:30:40 p.m.: Jesse sits down. For the first time in nearly eleven hours, he is off his feet, sitting next to his parents who are in the first base bleachers.
9:38 p.m.: Jared walks along the stadium concessions row throwing away trash and emptying garbage bags.
9:40 p.m.: Emily cleans up used ketchup packets from the condiments table.
9:43 p.m.: A Banana Bunch crew member at the ‘All-You-Can-Eat’ concessions tells me that they ran out of hot dogs after the third inning.
9:46 p.m.: Will comes out onto the field with a banana. A $20 bill is taped to it. Using only the hoots and hollers from the crowd, a blindfolded fan crawls on his knees in the foul territory by third base and reached for the $20 banana.
9:47:01: That fan is $20 richer – and also wins some potassium.
9:48 p.m.: It is only the bottom of the fourth inning. The Blowfish are winning, 4-0. The Bananas line score is an odd one: 0 runs, 0 hits, 4 errors.
9:57 p.m.: Lizzy, freed from her desk and phone, jogs up the grandstand steps to check on a birthday party.
10:02 p.m.: The Banana Boys – that’d be Austin, Berry, Harrison, and Mitch in banana costumes – come out to rake the field mid-inning…but really just drop their rakes near second base and dance to JT.
10:12 p.m.: Another hit makes it 7-2, and starter Adam Scott is relieved by righty Rogalski.
10:30 p.m.: The Bananas make their second pitching change as Elliot Forde comes in.
10:50 p.m.: A woman in the first base bleachers says to her family, “I’m want to be a Banana Nana next season.”
10:52 p.m.: Jesse asks Steve the over-under on the game’s ending before midnight.
10:53:50 p.m.: Bananas players, staff, and interns go into the stands to deliver roses (donated by John Davis Florist) to dozens of lucky ladies.
11:02 p.m.: A man in a gorilla suit runs through the crowd to give away a pizza.
11:05 p.m.: Only 5 game jerseys are left for sale in the Banana Stand.
11:07 p.m.: Berry asks a few Banana Bunchers if they want to come out on the field and sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at the next inning break.
11:25 p.m.: Jesse takes Banana Logan Moody into the metal bleachers to give a ball to a particular fan. Moody gives her a hug. She is in tears.
11:28 p.m.: Only a couple hundred fans remain dotted about the stadium.
11:31 p.m.: The young woman who received the ball is leaving with her two friends and stops to give Jesse a hug.
11:35 p.m.: Jesse tells me why she was crying: she and her fiancé have come to opening nights at Grayson Stadium for years, including the summer of 2015. A few months later, he passed away. His name just happened to be Andrew Moody, a name shared by one of the Bananas who has yet to join the team. Jesse asked his brother Logan to present a ball signed by the entire Bananas team to the young woman.
11:37 p.m.: Jonathan and Banana Bunch crew members start to put the door panels up to lock down the individual concessions.
11:39 p.m.: Emily supervises the shutting down and cleaning up beneath the stadium and tells me that she thinks she’s had something to eat and drink – and that she and Jesse have two more nights just like this one, Friday in Savannah and Saturday in Gastonia.
11:40 p.m.: John tells me that this is one of the hardest days he has ever worked.
11:41:02 p.m.: Jesse keeps a straight face and asks John, “A light night?”
11:41:08 p.m.: He then says to John genuinely, “I appreciate you more than you know.”
11:42 p.m.: Their conversation quickly shifts to whether they have enough food in store for Friday night.
11:54 p.m.: An error by first baseman Hunter Bening gives the Bananas a 5-5-5 line score, not something you see every day.
11:55 p.m.: Kelsey Orton, Jared’s wife, has been serving food in the box seats all night. That work ended, she carries a droopy Daisy around the grandstand that is now about as sleepy as the pup is.
12:05 a.m.: A hit, a walk, and an HBP load the bases for the Bananas, who are down 8-5 with 2 outs. Incredibly, the game-winning run is at the plate.
12:07:25 a.m.: A swinging third strike ends the game.
12:08:45 a.m.: Now the real work begins. Austin passes by an contemplates out loud the two hours of clean-up before they can call it a night.
12:11 a.m.: Everyone leaving via that gate passes by Kelsey and a sleeping Daisy for a good night pet.
12:11:38 a.m.: Sgt. Reynolds of the Savannah-Chatham Police asks fans to leave the grandstand and to wait for the players below decks.
12:16 a.m.: Jesse and Jared carry trays of food into the main concessions area for the players’ postgame meal.
12:17 a.m.: John hurriedly fires up the flat-tops to heat up the pasta.
12:18 a.m.: The Blowfish queue up outside of their locker room, waiting to be invited to eat. Coach Johnson explains to me the CPL ‘rule’ that the home team provides the postgame meal for the visitors to save the players (and their owners) from the cost (and the additional time late at night) of sitting down at whatever restaurant might be open.
12:21 a.m.: The grandstand and field are empty and quiet for the first time in several hours.
12:26 a.m.: Daniel comes up to me and says, “12:26: Daniel can’t feel his legs.”
12:28 a.m.: Tonight’s show is over. Jesse removes his bright yellow top hat, but he is still working, shaking hands and thanking fans who trickle out the front gates. To one, he says, “We’ll be back here again at six tomorrow.” What he doesn’t say is that he won’t leave Grayson Stadium for another two hours, at least.