GTPulse: The Hype Men Behind The TC Pit Spitters
The Traverse City Pit Spitters have had quite the season. The record breaking team is headed to playoffs, and Tuesday will be their first at home playoffs game. I have been able to go to a handful of Pit Spitters games this season, and despite not being sports savvy I always enjoy myself. It helps that the talented team is always making the crowd go wild, but it has also been fun to watch the game entertainers, namely the MC Connor Miller and mascot Monty. The pair excel at keeping the crowd involved and engaged during breaks between a game, and a lot of thought and care goes into how they will get the crowd excited.
“The one thing we can’t control is the outcome on the field,” Connor said. “Regardless of the outcome on the field, we can give them a show so when they leave, hopefully they can leave with a smile on their face.”
Entertainment Coordinator Harold Kranick is in charge of handling Monty. If Monty was Mariah Carey, Harold would be Tommy Mottola. For Harold, the making sure the energy is high when everyone comes in is an important part of his job.
“When I come in I want to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone’s energy is where it’s supposed to be. If someone is low I’m gonna joke with them, get them excited, here we go loosen up, you know? We’re here to have fun, that’s the most important thing.”
The games are fun indeed. My first Pit Spitters game I had the joy of witnessing Connor and Monty dancing the cotton-eyed-joe on stage, flawlessly. The audience was clearly delighted and even more so when two little kids jumped on the stage with them and started dancing along. This kind of audience inclusiveness is a big part of why the entertainment is so successful.
Connor comes into every game not knowing what is going to be on the entertainment schedule. He has a couple hours of prep before a game, but he doesn’t have a set script for what exactly he will say throughout each segment. He ad-libs based on the moment and the audience.
“It’s new to the fans, we’re not giving them the same product over and over again. We have relationships we these people. We see some of these people every game,” Connor said.
Some segments are sponsored by businesses, but some segments are created by the entertainment team. They’re lucky in that they’re allowed to be creative in the kind of entertainment they want to try out on the Pit Spitters audience. Having this flexibility makes it easier to keep show fresh for fans. In the worst case scenario, a segment doesn’t work and they just don’t perform it again.
A gladiator game that challenged contestants to balance on a platform and use batons to knock their opponent over was an example of a new idea not working out so well.
“It broke, so that only lasted two games. We just said, we’re not using that anymore that’s out,” said Connor.
New ideas for fan entertainment not working out doesn’t discourage the entertainment team, it just inspires them to keep trying to find fun, new ways to put on a show. As long as the entertainment involves the audience in some way, Connor and Monty are happy.
The Traverse City Pit Spitters take their entertainment just as seriously as they take their baseball, and Connor had to work hard to get the prestigious position of hosting the games. There was an audition process that required dancing, singing and testing improv skills.
“I put my hand over his microphone in the middle of his audition,” said Harold who was on the selection committee for finding the right MC for the Pit Spitters. “An audience member could do that, you have to be able to roll with the punches.”
This is Connor’s first time working as an MC, and he is soaking in every moment of all the energy that a Pit Spitters game brings. A particular segment that Connor loves is where he sings a part of a song and then asks a section of audience members to finish the lyrics. Some sections are more lively than others, and the losing sections will typically boo him.
“That’s not a bad thing! It means they care about what we’re doing so they care about the outcome.”
Monty, an orchard creature from Northern Michigan, particularly enjoys the connection he makes with fans. Harold said that Monty has true talent for telling stories without having to use any words, and getting recognized by returning fans is always something that brings a smile to his snout.
Sporting events are not my typical go-to for an evening activity, but I have enjoyed a summer full of Pit Spitters games this season and I know that a big part of that is because of the fabulous entertainment that is put on every game. Whether it’s little kids racing around the baseball diamond in T-Rex costumes, or Connor shooting t-shirts at fans there is always something fun going on during a Pit Spitters game. Having a fun and talented new sports team has been great for the summer and great for residents of Northern Michigan.
“It’s really cool that we can have something like this that gives pride in our community,” Connor said.
Show some community pride and catch a Pit Spitters playoff game tomorrow at 7:05pm. Wear red!