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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Thrillbillies Thrill with Inaugural Tighty Bowl Game


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


I thought I was attending a regular season baseball game between the Thrillville Thrillbillies and the Jackson Rockabillies at Marion Stadium this past Wednesday night. However, I soon learned it was an exhibition game dubbed The inaugural Thrillbillies Tighty Bowl.


The game featured a different setup for the 9-innings of play that resembled some of the unusual rules I saw at the Savannah Bananas game a few weeks ago in Indianapolis. Rather than 9-10 unique rules, each inning played differently. A few of them worked rather well and went along swiftly. An on-field MC was on the field to entertain the crowd while continuous music flowed through the speaker during the game.


The Thrillbillies mascot having some fun with toilet paper with the crowd.


The game featured a different setup for the 9-innings of play that resembled some of the rules I saw at the Savannah Bananas game a few weeks in Indianapolis; instead of 9-10 unique rules, each inning played a bit differently. A few rules worked well and went along swiftly for the crowd entertained by an MC and constant music played throughout the game.


The first two winnings worked out very well. The team started off the game under The Wimbleton Inning. All hitting and throwing had to be completed by a tennis racquet. Players pitched from a serve, and batters could smack the tennis ball on the bounce. Outfielders then had to catch with one hand or throw to a base for an out. It included a lucky fan taking an at-bat.


A Jackson Rockabillies player swings at a tennis ball with a racquet during the first inning of play


The second inning had every member of the team on the field. While batters put the ball into play due to no pitcher on the mound, and a foul ball caught in the stands is out. The Thrillbillies mascot and Sud Mobile weaved in and out of the players in the outfield during the inning of play.


A few other innings had the players swap baseball for kickball. They slid into each base on a Slip n Slide doused with foam from the Sud Mobile. It was a constant presence for most of the evening as the truck sprayed a gun full of foam onto the first few seats of the grandstand, dousing everyone (including myself). A few players had some solid boots, but sliding into a sea of foam and being soaked with a ball was thrilling to watch.


Safe at home during the kickball game


What didn't work were a few innings that took some time to set up and caused heavy delays. The Battle of the Sexes game was fun and exciting, but both teams had to bring in makeshift plastic walls when it was their time to play by the softball rules.


The saving grace, and perhaps the most viewed by the fans, was a high school junior striking out three college players, although she gave up two home runs. However, her performance wowed the crowd to the future Western Illinois pitcher.


The Giveaway Inning, where four business reps from the community would run for batters as they tried to win a lucky fan a prize grill or black diamond innings, also featured three pitchers on the mound. Let the Fans Hit inning was a great idea, but it took a bit longer to select fans from the stands and then get them to play.


A local high school junior struck out three players, despite giving up two home runs in her one inning of work.


I have to give the T-Billies management credit; they were creating something fun and exciting for the fan base, even though many probably did not know what to expect. Just like with anything new, there is bound to be some tinkering with the rules in the future. By the time the last inning was played, in complete darkness with players decked out in glow sticks, the gimmick had worn off a bit.


The Thrillbillies management earns credit for pulling off such an elaborate display of baseball shenanigans. Throughout the game, the suds mobile blasted fans, the dance team entertained patrons between innings, and many walked onto the field during events to mingle with the players for access, unlike anytime else at a ballpark.


The last inning was a total blackout and played in the dark; players worked reflective suites


After the game, the Tighty Bowl trophy was awarded to the Thrillbillies, who hosted the underwear cup-shaped trophy up into the air. The two teams would play again tomorrow night under Prospect League rules.


However, tonight might have been the start of something in Marion. A game that could take place annually or bi-annually that will no doubt look a little different the next time the Thrillbillies take the field. It was exciting and thrilling, and when it moved smoothly, it was a marvelous spectacle. I will look forward to the next go around.


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Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com





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