You can thank the Savannah Bananas and the Pioneer League for a promo we’re sure to see a lot in coming games, as the Worcester Bravehearts (Futures League) will host a game where the fans choose the rules and will be decided by a home-run derby.
According to the team, a new rule created by a fan will be implemented into the rule book and enforced by the umpires in each inning of the game. One chosen rule will last the entirety of the game, for a total of eight new rules to be in effect throughout the game. The seven-inning game is scheduled for June 7 against the Nashua Silver Knights.
It could get a little rowdy out there: the promo is being held on the team’s annual Baseball in Education Day, where the Bravehearts welcome students from across Massachusetts for an educational field trip at the ballpark. The Bravehearts will invite participating schools to have any student submit a rule that could be featured during the game. The schools and classrooms whose rules are chosen to be used during the game will have that rule named after them in the rule book. Each student whose rule is chosen will have the opportunity to watch an inning from the dugout to see the rule in action.
Regardless of the score, the game will end in a home-run derby. After seven innings, the team that is trailing will have to make up the deficit by out-homering the leading team.
“The You-Choose-The-Rules Bravehearts game on June 7th will be the most interactive sporting event anyone in Massachusetts has ever seen,” said Bravehearts General Manager Dave Peterson via press statement. “We are giving fans control of the rulebook, and making the sport of baseball more appealing to a younger generation of fans.”
The promo is part of a series of games where fans have final say over what happen on the field; in other games fans will choose a uniform design, promotions and walk-up music. You can weigh in here.
It’s a trend for teams to take some creative liberties with the rules. Jesse Cole’s Savannah Bananas are renowned for playing by their own rules under the Banana Ball, including infield karaoke, batters competing on stilts, and batters introducing themselves when coming up to bat. (You can hear us discuss Banana Ball and the Bananas with Cole here on the Ballpark Digest podcast.) Similarly, the MLB Partner League Pioneer League in 2021 decided to scrap extra innings and instead launched a head-to-head, “sudden death” home-run duel to settle ties, a move league officials described as being popular with fans.