By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SAVANNAH — At a Savannah Bananas baseball game, the show begins before the first pitch is thrown. Rincon resident Sean McBride sees to that.
McBride, the band director at South Effingham High School, pulls double duty on game night at Grayson Stadium, directing a pep band that showers fans with musical energetic fun in the stadium concourse.
“(Bananas owner Jesse Cole) says we’re the only (Coastal Plain League) team that has a pep band and I’m not sure that he’s wrong,” McBride said. “It’s fun to entertain. It’s really about the experience for fans at the Bananas games, so we want to treat every game as if it’s somebody’s first game.”
McBride knows a little something about entertainment. As a student at the University of Georgia, he played trumpet in UGA’s Redcoat Marching Band.
At South, McBride, known as Mr. Mac, directs a marching band of more than 110 members.
Now he’s front and center, wearing banana yellow and playing the trumpet in the 17-person pep band while bringing a New Orleans-like atmosphere to pregame and postgame baseball.
The band takes part in the Bananas’ shenanigans as well. Before the first pitch, the band leads a parade in foul ground from one side of the field to the other.
In a new wrinkle this year, the band plays while physically escorting a predetermined Savannah hitter to the batter’s box.
McBride said during the Bananas’ inaugural season (2016) in the Coastal Plain League — a wood bat league for collegiate players — he was approached by a team official about having the Mustangs Marching band play the national anthem before a game.
Then,he was asked if the band could play between innings. Then McBride was asked if the band could play on the weekends.
“(A Banana official said), “We really like what your kids did when they came out and we like having a band, how do we do that?” ” McBride said.
Downsizing to a pep band fit nicely into the Bananas’ concept of fan first entertainment. McBride saw the perks and was onboard as long as his son Alex, now a rising senior at SEHS, could play as well.
“It was an opportunity to go to baseball games with my son and play,” McBride said.
McBride said this year’s pep band has 13 members from the Effingham County area. Some are McBride’s former students and teaching assistants. He compared the reunion to an oldtimers game.
He also joins the fun and plays the trumpet.
“It’s slowly grown and evolved. It’s a smaller group but more dynamic performing group,” McBride said. “The first year, I conducted and, to be honest, it was a little boring. (Conducting) is what I do at work so the next summer I decided to play. They don’t need someone waving their arms.”