The Savannah Bananas: Not Your Average Baseball Team

By Brody Beaupre

Even though baseball is a sport that dates back more than one hundred years, a small farm league in Savannah, Ga. has changed the game forever. The Savannah Bananas have remastered baseball to a fully immersive fan experience. “Banana Ball” has a completely different set of rules designed to make sure there is never a dull moment during the game. I recently had the privilege to see a Banana Ball game, and it was an experience that I will never forget. 

A Little History

The Bananas call Grayson Stadium home. “Historic Grayson Stadium” as it is known to some, was built in 1926. This smaller stadium only holds 4,000 people, but the stands are always packed full of adoring fans. This stadium has been the home field for many teams such as the minor league Savannah Indians, the Savannah Sand Gnats, and many summer league teams throughout its many years of operation. Owner Jesse Cole bought the team and saw that ticket sales were down. In 2016 he turned some rundown team and stadium into the major attraction it is today. The Bananas have already gone on tour once and are doing it again, playing against their rivals the Party Animals (which is the equivalent of the Bananas).

Banana’s catcher Bill LaRoy (L) is a fan favorite among the banana faithful

The Big Draw

During my experience there were so many memorable moments, but of course none of that would have happened if there wasn’t a massive draw in the first place. The main thing that sets Banana Ball apart from regular baseball is the extremely different rulebook. Some drastically different rules are the foul ball rule, no walks rule, and the no balks rule. If a fan catches a foul ball in the stands, it is ruled an out, which has only happened twice in Banana Ball history. In regular baseball, when the pitcher throws four balls (pitches not in the strike zone), the batter may “walk” to first base without the opposing team having the opportunity to get them out. But in Banana Ball, every player must touch the ball before it is live. This could result in a walk being a homerun. The third rule is the “no balks” rule. There are many different ways a pitcher can have a balk[1] in regular baseball, but not in Banana Ball! Pitchers can do whatever they feel like doing on the pitcher’s mound, and batters cannot step out of the batter’s box. These are just some of the crazy rules that make Banana Ball the special experience it is. The Bananas are an ever-changing organization. They believe in “fans first” in every aspect of the game. If a fan makes a suggestion or request that is just spectacular, the Bananas will give it a try. This allows for them to always make it a pleasurable and unique experience every single game.

A breakdown of Banana Ball

My Experience

When I went to watch the Bananas play, it was a truly spectacular experience. There wasn’t a dull moment. From the Banana-nanas (yes, it is a group of grandmother-cheerleaders) to the Man-anas (a group of “dad bod” cheerleaders), and the mid-game shenanigans, I was completely immersed in the game the whole time. The athleticism of the players is also crazy to watch. These players made spectacular plays that regular baseball players wouldn’t dare to attempt in a game. If anyone has the opportunity to go to a Bananas game, I strongly recommend it. 

[1] When a pitcher makes an illegal move on the mound. This causes the batter to get a ball and the baserunners to freely advance one base.