At Grayson Stadium, the Savannah Bananas baseball club plays its home debut game on Saturday, February 25. A second home game is set for March 2. The franchise has entered a new chapter with this season. The Bananas are now a full-time barnstorming club that plays “banana ball,” a novel style of baseball developed by team owner Jesse Cole that places a focus on entertainment and a brisk tempo of play. Its roster is made up entirely of professionals.
Like they did for the last six years, the Bananas will not have a collegiate summer squad in the Coastal Plain League.
Johnny Damon on the Savannah Bananas is a very 2023 headline pic.twitter.com/TdSLlonRKd
— DraftKings (@DraftKings) February 24, 2023
Where are the Bananas playing?
The Bananas, who refer to themselves as a “World Renowned Baseball Circus,” will play games in 33 places in 2023, including more than 30 at Grayson Stadium. On February 17, the team’s season got underway in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Cole anticipates performing in front of more than 500,000 spectators over the course of the next seven months, and because of the high demand for tickets, the Bananas have instituted a lottery system. Cole claims that a number of ballparks have asked for more games, some even for a weeklong series.
The most fun team in sports is ready to bring the greatest show in sports. Introducing your 2023 Savannah Bananas. pic.twitter.com/6pXrr5Eei1
— Savannah Bananas (@TheSavBananas) December 14, 2022
Many Bananas games will take place in minor league ballparks and spring training venues with 4,000 seats or more. At the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, where the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros hold their spring training games, the Bananas performed twice in front of 7,700 spectators. In 2024, Cole hopes to compete in Big League Baseball stadiums.
Where did ‘banana ball’ come from?
Cole first played “banana ball” in 2018 in Greenwood, South Carolina, a three-hour trip from Savannah, in covert exhibition games against the collegiate teams Lander and Wofford. The opening game was completed in 99 minutes.
The first open trial was held in Savannah the following year. Cole played a series in Mobile, Alabama in 2021, taking the game on the road for the first time. In nine places, including Savannah, the Bananas played “banana ball” matches the previous year.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
The Savannah Bananas are bringing their “World Famous Baseball Circus” to Excite Ballpark on July 25th, 2023! 🍌
— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) October 5, 2022
What is a ‘banana ball’?
Baseball is played in “banana ball” with nine rule modifications that all attempt to speed up the game. With an unusual scoring system, teams are awarded points for innings won rather than runs scored. Also, there is a two-hour time limit; no inning may begin after that point (1 hour, 50 minutes).
Banana ball regulations also forbid bunting, visiting the mound, and leaving the batter’s box in between pitches. A popular rule among fans entails declaring a hitter ineligible if a ball he fouls off into the audience gets grabbed by a spectator.
In addition to the regulations, “banana ball” includes a long list of antics, such as dancing base coaches and umpires, pitchers on stilts, and batters using fire bats.
Savannah Bananas Adding 11 Challenger Games to 2023 Schedule – Highlighted by a Three-Game Series vs the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association
— Savannah Bananas (@TheSavBananas) December 21, 2022
A Bananas’ visit is more an event than a game.
With before and postgame festivities that include a pep band, the “Man-Nanas” male cheerleading squad, and a “Nanas” dance team made up of senior-age women, Cole, his staff, and the players want to create a fan experience. The players regularly join in to shake hands and sign autographs under the direction of Cole, who is dressed in a yellow tuxedo.
Between innings, the Bananas put a lot of effort into keeping fans entertained with player dance routines, stunt shows, and the homage to the game’s “banana baby,” which features a newborn dressed in a banana costume.
The Savannah Bananas are bringing their “World Famous Baseball Circus” to Canal Park!
— Akron RubberDucks (@AkronRubberDuck) October 5, 2022
Who plays for the Bananas?
Six players, including 76-year-old pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee, who is a member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, were taken in the Major League Baseball draught earlier in their playing careers and are on the team’s opening-day roster.
Cole said that player remuneration is higher than $1 million.
Took a trip to Vegas and found our new besties.
Excited to announce https://t.co/w01Jt8ygGq as the official partner of the Savannah Bananas.
The 2023 Banana Ball World Tour – Loved by @Zappos
— Savannah Bananas (@TheSavBananas) February 14, 2023
This season, the Bananas’ guest players will include a number of notable former Major League great. Cole lists World Series champion Jonny Gomes and Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy as regulars. Josh Reddick, who is from Effingham County, as well as Jonathan Papelbon have both previously appeared in Banana.
Cole claimed that several Major League players who have retired “every week” inquire about signing with the Bananas. However, because it is against company policy to reveal appearances in advance, Cole says that “fans never know who will make an appearance.”
|1||Bill LeRoy||Dublin, GA||C/3B|
|⚡️||Malachi Mitchell||Gainesville, FL||PR/OF|
|3||Eric Jones Jr.||Charlotte, NC||C/INF|
|4||Mat Wolf||Joy, OK||RHP/INF|
|5||DR Meadows||Vidalia, GA||OF/INF|
|6||Ryan Cox||Aliquippa, PA||INF|
|7||Michael Deeb||Davie, FL||OF/1B|
|8||Jackson Olson||New Milford, CT||INF|
|9||Noah Bridges||Benson, NC||OF|
|10||Alex Ziegler||Butler, PA||EH|
|11||Matt Malatesta||Doylestown, PA||RHP|
|12||Kyle Luigs||Richmond Hill, GA||RHP|
|13||Dalton Mauldin||Lake City, FL||INF|
|14||Dakota Albritton||Ellaville, GA||RHP/UTIL|
|18||Danny Hosley||Vienna, VA||Everywhere|
|19||Dan Oberst||Long Island, NY||1B|
|21||Jared Donalson||Albany, GA||RHP|
|24||Dakota McFadden||Rocky Point, NC||UTIL/RHP|
|25||Christian Dearman||Pembroke Pines, FL||RHP|
|37||Bill Lee||Burbank, CA||LHP|
|41||Vincent DeRubeis||Trumbull, CT||UTIL|
|91||DJ “The Invader”||Jacksonville, FL||RHP|
In Daytona Beach to see The Savannah Bananas play two games at Jackie Robinson Ballpark (home of the Single-A Daytona Tortugas) as part of their 2023 World Tour! We’re ready! Play Banana Ball! pic.twitter.com/aXkvIbE3MH
— Bob Fregolle (@BFregolle) February 22, 2023
Savannah Bananas 2023 tour schedule
|March 2||Savannah, Georgia|
|March 4-5||Jacksonville, Florida|
|March 10-11||Savannah, Georgia|
|March 13||Savannah, Georgia|
|March 16-18||Sugar Land, Texas|
|March 24-25||Montgomery, Alabama|
|March 31||Scottsdale, Arizona|
|April 1||Peoria, Arizona|
|April 6-7||Savannah, Georgia|
|April 13||Savannah, Georgia|
|April 15||Savannah, Georgia|
|April 18||Savannah, Georgia|
|April 21-22||Charleston, West Virginia|
|April 26||Savannah, Georgia|
|April 28-29||Tampa Bay, Florida|
|May 4-6||Kansas City, Kansas|
|May 11||Savannah, Georgia|
|May 13||Savannah, Georgia|
|May 15||Savannah, Georgia|
|May 19-20||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|May 26-27||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|May 29||Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|June 2-3||Nashville, Tennessee|
|June 8-10||Savannah, Georgia|
|June 12||Savannah, Georgia|
|June 15||Savannah, Georgia|
|June 17||Savannah, Georgia|
|June 19||Savannah, Georgia|
|June 23-24||Birmingham, Alabama|
|June 29-30||Indianapolis, Indiana|
|July 2-3||Akron, Ohio|
|July 7-8||Savannah, Georgia|
|July 11-12||Kannapolis, North Carolina|
|July 14-15||Durham, North Carolina|
|July 17||Savannah, Georgia|
|July 21-23||Cucamonga, California|
|July 25||San Jose, California|
|July 27||Fresno, California|
|July 29||Sacramento, California|
|August 3||Savannah, Georgia|
|August 5||Savannah, Georgia|
|August 9||Trenton, New Jersey|
|August 11-12||Staten Island, New York|
|August 14||Hartford, Connecticut|
|August 16||Brockton, Massachusetts|
|August 18-19||Portland, Maine|
|August 25-26||Des Moines, Iowa|
|August 30||Savannah, Georgia|
|September 1-2||Savannah, Georgia|
|September 4||Savannah, Georgia|
|September 8-9||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|September 14||Syracuse, New York|
|September 16||Cooperstown, New York|
Having fun at the opening of Savannah Bananas Banana Ball Tour 2023 pic.twitter.com/hSyHTJXKyf
— Corey K (@CoreyNYC) February 18, 2023
Savannah Bananas tickets 2023
It’s difficult to find tickets to see the self-described “World Renowned Baseball Circus,” since the squad has sold out of all box office tickets. Tickets for the bananas are priced at their face value of $25, taxes and fees included. The team decided to introduce a lottery system in select cities because demand was so great there.
On the Bananas’ website, fans may sign up for the waitlist for more tickets or buy them through secondary marketplaces like TicketSmarter.
Fans are given to all-you-can-eat concession stalls, drinks with the banana logo, and an escape from the advertising world once they enter the stadium. In 2020, Grayson Stadium became the first baseball stadium without ads.
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