Want to be the “Fan of the Game” at a Carolina Mudcats game? Be advised, it’s a title reserved only for those who are willing to go the distance.
But I’m fairly confident you don’t have to put in the kind of work longtime friends Katie Anderson and Macy Weeks did at the Mudcats game against the Salem Red Sox on the Fourth of July, when the duo jointly earned the “Fans of the Game” crown.
I joined my family in the stands to take in that game and subsequent fireworks show at Five County Stadium, and it was fun being there as the Mudcats snapped a lengthy losing streak with a 9-6 win over the Red Sox. But to see that, we often had to overlook the other, more perpetual show of skills taking place in the seats directly in front of ours.
It was like “America’s Got Talent” meets “So You Think You Can Dance” meets “The Sing-Off,” all taking place simultaneously in two box seats at the ballpark.
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Anderson and Weeks were clearly no strangers to the promotional activities that take place at Carolina Mudcats baseball games. It turns out Mike Anderson, of the Grantham community outside Goldsboro, has been taking his family on Fourth of July getaways at the stadium for several years now.
Those who have been to a Mudcats game are probably familiar with the “Fan of the Game” promotion. Throughout the game, music and word prompts on Mudzilla, the 82-foot-wide video board at the stadium, cue fans to get up out of their seats and embark in some form of action worthy of displaying on the big screen.
Staff in the press box and members of the camera crew will notice those with the greatest response and ultimately select two or three finalists, who will then compete on camera for the loudest cheer from the crowd to rake in the top honor.
From the game’s first pitch, the two friends started singing and dancing, attempting to engage the crowd in Mudcats cheers (even when the crowd didn’t bite) and ribbing the closest cameraman for attention. They sang complete lines of random songs when music wasn’t even playing over the PA system. They danced, even while seated, to the music in the park, even when it wasn’t part of the promotion.
It was too impressive to ignore – almost like a P90X workout – especially given it must have been 90 degrees in the shade and the night’s only breeze came and passed swiftly with a line of storms that spared the venue early on.
My strategy, which didn’t really work, was to move as little as possible and hope my heart rate would eventually slow enough for things to cool off. But not the pair of fame seekers – for them there was no time to be lost.
My mom speculated that the two must be cousins who don’t get to see each other very often. She also theorized they had been granted access to large quantities of sugar before finding their seats, which I don’t recall them leaving for the duration of the game.
Mike Anderson said it was normal behavior for the teenage friends who grew up playing sports together. He and other members of his group acted as if nothing was out of the ordinary as the sideshow rolled along.
“When they’re together, yes, they have a good time anytime they are together,” Anderson said. “We have four kids so it’s always something going on at my house, and Macy just fits right in.”
By the time the Cats Crew approached Anderson and Weeks, asking if they wanted to vie for the title, they had already won us and others in the surrounding sections over in their campaign.
The crowd was eager to help seal their celebrity status for the night. After all, they had earned it.
This is just one example of what you might see, or dare to try, if you check out a Mudcats game. There are still nearly 30 home games left at Five County Stadium this season.