The Rome Braves’ public relations staff tried its hand at wackiness on Friday, when “Something Different Night” was held at the State Mutual Stadium during the Braves’ 11-9 comeback win against Kannapolis.
The evening featured elements that ranged from mildly odd (hamburgers being served on hot dog buns) to highly amusing (the Braves’ grounds crew dancing on the dugout) to historic (the first female public address announcer in team history).
The zany promotions seemed to have the desired effect among the fans.
“I think it adds a lot,” said Kendal Boyd, 14, who estimated that she attends more than 10 games each year at State Mutual Stadium. “And I think I am going to try one of those hot dogs.”
Abby Lary, 13, agreed that the promotions were a nice change of pace but said she enjoys going to SMS most any night — with or without special promotions.
“It’s fun to come and be with your friends,” said Abby. “It’s a good place to hang out.”
The “something’s different” theme was evident from the beginning of the night, when a mascot from Mellow Mushroom kicked a miniature football from the pitcher’s mound instead of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Moments later, the starting lineups were announced in Spanish by Rome batting coach Carlos Mendez.
In the third inning, Savannah Ruth (who normally serves as the Braves’ on-field host) took over the duties on the microphone on the public address system in relief of normal announcer Tony McIntosh.
There were several more bits of strangeness as the evening progressed, and many of the promotions were well received by the crowd, creating either laughter or cheers.
If there was one promotion that didn’t work, it was the “Inning of Silence.”
Although the crowd was asked to remain quiet during the top of the fourth, the silence was broken almost immediately when Kannapolis’ Leighton Pangilinan led off the inning by crushing a long homer that landed among the picnic tables on Home Run Hill.
If nothing else, the oddities provided a welcome distraction from the heat, especially on a night when the temperature hovered around 100 for much of the game.
Still, many fans, including Kendal, were willing to stick it out.
“It’s really hot, but we’re going to stay,” she said. “We’re going to support our Braves.”
Those who stayed to the end were treated to one of the most exciting wins of the season.
After falling behind 6-0 early, the Braves scored 11 runs over a three-run stretch -- capped by a five-run rally in the seventh -- to take the win in the opener of a five-game series.
The victory was the latest encouraging sign for the Braves, who have been playing better baseball since making several roster moves during the All-Star break. They are in first place in the second-half standings after finishing in last place during the first half.