FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – TinCaps fans know that the end of the 6th inning at home games means only one thing. The Bad Apple Dancers are about to perform.
“We’ve been recognized a restaurant by some awesome lady who came up and said we’re her favorite part of the game,” Brent “Rizzle” Harring said.
Harring’s been a Bad Apple Dancer since 2009 and is the only original member left. What is now a staple of the TinCaps ‘BIGFUN’ experience, began at the end of the Fort Wayne Wizards.
“It was one of the last home stands for the Wizards and my boss at the time had seen it somewhere else. We did something super basic like the YMCA and a few people cheered. But, we said next year when we open this new ballpark, we’re going to come up with something and just go for it,” Harring said.
Opening Day at Parkview Field came quickly and the Bad Apple Dancers didn’t have much time to prepare their debut dance. They had selected Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” for their first number.
“We never had any time to practice anything because it was too crazy getting the ballpark ready, so we were in the dugout tunnel three outs away from going out there with no dance plan and we just threw something together and just went out there and did it and the crowd went nuts. It was born from there,” Harring said.
Now every home game, between the 6th and 7th innings, the Bad Apple Dancers wow the crowd with their moves.
“To us it’s just four guys going out to try to dance good, but not good at all, but people enjoy it,” Dalton “D$” McGill said.
McGill became a Bad Apple Dancer in 2015.
“I was super nervous the first time. I remember panicking and nervous sweating, but it’s a lot of fun. It takes me back to my college football days of no one is there to see you personally, but everyone is having a lot of fun,” he said.
There are around 70 homes games every season and about a third of the dances are new.
“But we can go back and do ones from previous years, so at this point, we’ve maybe done a couple hundred,” Harring estimated.
The group will meet the day of the game in Studio 11 (actually Suite 11), about three hours before first pitch, to pick that night’s song and make up the moves.
“Sometimes you’re driving in your car and a song pops out and you’ll say, ‘I think this one’s dancable guys!'” Harring said.
Watch a few routines, and it’s not hard to pick up on the Bad Apple Dancer signature move.
“The booty shake, of course,” McGill said.
Dan “D-Piddy” Preuett is the newest Bad Apple Dancer. He’s just in his second season.
“I linger a lot when I shake my butt,” he said. “I like to give them a little booty and then fire up the upstairs as well and have a good shimmy.”
Bad Apple Danering is not all fun and dance, though. The four are also responsible for the infield drag.
“It’s difficult,” Austin “Flava-A” Allen said. “In April it’s tougher. We’re not in dancing shape, but now in August, we’re pretty much a well-oiled machine at this point. Those first couple of drags though you forget how heavy those things are and you get there and you’re out of breath and still have to dance for 32 counts.”
Allen became a Bad Apple Dancer in 2012.
“It was a dream, but I never thought it would become a reality, so it was really exciting when it happened,” he joked. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
While the crowd might only remember the booty shakes and shimmies, the grounds crew is keeping an eye on the field.
“There have been at least a couple of times where our groundskeeper stopped us and was like, ‘The good news is the dance was good. The bad news is the field looks terrible.’ We do have certain standards to meet,” Harring said.
After years of watching and wishing to one day be a guest Bad Apple Dancer, NewsChannel 15’s Alyssa Ivanson’s dream will come true Thursday night. Last week she met with the dancers to learn the routine and how to drag the dirt.
“Get your mind right and have fun with it. I think that’s contagious,” Allen said as advice to Ivanson. “If fans see us having fun and being entertaining, it’s easier for them to have fun out here too.”
Harring suggested wearing sunglasses.
“I don’t like seeing all those eyeballs on me even after all these years, so I hide behind sunglasses,” he said. “People say why do you do that and it’s like people can’t see me and I’m protected by the sunglasses.”
First pitch for Thursday’s game is 7:05 p.m. It’s also the last Thirsty Thursday game of the regular season. Get tickets here.