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Blaine McIntosh's journey from the NY Mets to the new Bananas baseball team

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Like most mornings, Blaine McIntosh's phone rang.

Like most mornings, his mother, Amy McIntosh, called to see how her only son was doing.

But the morning of December 6, 2022 was Nothing like most mornings.

Blaine said his mother sounded “desperate.”

“I didn’t expect the news I heard,” he said.

Blaine McIntosh's best friend, the friend who had practically lived with the McIntoshes when they both attended Sycamore High School, the friend who was there to make TikToks or play catch, the ride or die guy who was always there for a laugh or a cry, was gone.

Twenty-one days before his 21st birthday, Ethan “E” Biggs had died of a drug overdose, as Blaine learned from his mother that morning.

See the lights one last time

Blaine and Ethan had seen the Christmas lights at Opryland together the day before, a rare opportunity for the two to spend time together, just like old times. Since Blaine graduated from high school in 2019 and was selected by the New York Mets in the 13th round of the MLB draft that summer, they have been separated for the past two years, largely because of Blaine's professional baseball career.

“She didn't want to tell me,” Blaine said. “She knew how much 'E' meant to me and that I wanted him to get better.”

“It was like being stuck in a corner. A million things were going through your head, like, 'How could I have helped? How could I have done this and that?'”

Eighteen months later, Blaine McIntosh is embarking on a new baseball adventure. The former Vanderbilt baseball recruit is a member of the Firefighters, a new team under the Savannah Bananas umbrella that begins play this season.

This time “E” is with him.

Another panicked call

Not long after Biggs' death, Amy McIntosh called again in despair. This time it was her daughter Tristan McIntosh, a 2016 American Idol finalist and one of her brother's closest confidants.

She was looking for Blaine.

“I said, 'Where's your brother?'” Amy recalled.

Blaine had gone to a nearby park.

“He just sat there, praying and crying,” Amy continued. “He didn't want anyone to see him in a weak moment.”

A little more than six months later, after McIntosh had spent parts of four seasons in the Mets' minor league system, another of those important calls came.

Only this time it was Blaine who did it.

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Savannah Bananas pitcher Bill Lee talks about being a Banana

Former MLB pitcher Bill Lee talks about how he became a Savannah Banana before a game in Nashville, TN, on June 3, 2023

Paul Skrbina, Nashville Tennessean

From the New York Mets to the firefighter

McIntosh was on his way home from Port St. Lucie, Florida, in late June last year when he called his mother.

The Mets had released him.

Amy, a retired Army major who negotiated Blaine's first professional contract for Tristan to sing the national anthem before a Mets game at Citi Field, was unprepared for how well her son, an outfielder, was prepared for the moment.

“I'm kind of his hype man,” Amy said. “He said matter-of-factly, 'Mom, I'm just driving home. Let's go through our top five suggestions for the next one.'”

Plans B, C, D, E and F involved trying to find another team and playing Independent Ball and Banana Ball.

McIntosh also had the $400,000 the Mets had set aside for him to go to college, and he spent some of that on studying at Austin Peay. He is on track to graduate in December with a degree in sports media and communications.

Blaine's last option was to join the military like his mother, a retired U.S. Army major.

But then a call came from the fire department, Blaine did a trial training in Daytona Beach, Florida, and it became Bananaball.

The Firefighters will face the Bananas from June 13-15 at First Horizon Park in Nashville.

TikTok, it doesn't stop

McIntosh's connection to the Firefighters goes far beyond the baseball field and extends into the realm of social media.

McIntosh, who has more than 364,000 followers on TikTok and another 23,000 on Instagram, is considered a social media “influencer,” which fits with the Savannah Bananas brand's approach. The players regularly practice and record TikToks on game days, in addition to playing Harlem Globetrotters-style baseball.

“I want to play through the season and see where it takes me,” Blaine said. “See how they interact with the fans, with the communities they play in.”

McIntosh first became interested in social media during the COVID pandemic. For him, it was an “escape from reality.”

Of course, Blaine would like to play professional baseball again. But for now, he's a firefighter.

Like father, like son

Fittingly, Blaine's father, Freddy, was there for his son's last baseball outing.

Literally.

Freddy drove to Savannah, Georgia, in the family's 35-foot Jayco RV, the same one the McIntoshes had driven to so many of Tristan's singing events and so many of Blaine's baseball events. He wanted Blaine to have a familiar face around him and a place to sleep during training camp.

Just like all the years Freddy spent driving a school bus so he could spend a little more time with his kids.

“Those bus rides are etched in my memory,” Blaine said. “Just the nostalgia of him being there every day.”

Blaine proudly carries some of his father’s genes.

Freddy was a three-sport athlete in high school and played basketball at Alabama Christian College. His mother, Betty, was a successful gospel singer.

It's no coincidence that Tristan still sings. She plans to release her latest single, “Champagne Rampage,” this summer and regularly plays music on Broadway.

SOON: The Savannah Bananas are coming back to Nashville in 2024. Here's how to get tickets.

Who is Houstest Jay Magnothius?

For Blaine McIntosh, the task of housetesting Jay Magnothius was an easy one.

Wait, Home test Jay Magnothius?

Magnothius is a contract assassin who killed a baseball player named Jackson Luffy in a family movie the McIntoshes made many moons ago. This character returned last Christmas, in House Strikes Back 3, a sequel that Blaine and Tristan made as a gift for their parents.

The 12-minute video was shot in one day at Centennial Park and Tristan's Nashville apartment. Blaine not only played the role of Magnothius, but also edited the production.

“It's almost impressively good,” said Tristan. “And it was really funny.”

Paul Skrbina is a sports reporter covering the Predators, Titans, Nashville SC, local colleges and local sports for The Tennessean. You can reach him at [email protected] and on the X Platform (formerly known as Twitter). @paulskrbina. Follow his work here.