The Savannah Bananas, who have become a national sensation with their irreverent style of baseball, are leaving the Coastal Plain League to focus their full attention on the professional barnstorming team.
Owner Jesse Cole announced in a YouTube video, “We’ll be able to bring Savannah bananas to more people in Savannah and around the world.”
Banana joined the Collegiate Summer League in 2016, playing at the historic Grayson Stadium after the city’s longtime minor league team left.
The amateur team was an instant sensation, both on and off the field. with Alien that caught your eye From the national media and a team that has won three Champions League titles, including the last two, Bananas have sold every home game since its inception.
Cole built on this success by releasing a professional team that plays a version of the game known as “Banana Ball,” which includes a two-hour time limit, no restrictions on ball festivities (from wearing skirts to a player using stilts), and anomaly rules like no Walking, not counting bunting and bunting when the fan catches a ball in the stands.
The response prompted Cole to get on board with a team that could play more games in Savannah — where the owner says his team has a waiting list for tickets that has increased to 80,000 — and on the road.
The CPL team played 24 home games per season, a number that will grow into the 30s next year. Also, Bananas plans to play in about 25 cities in 2023.
Cole said leaving CPL was a bittersweet but necessary decision.
“The Coastal Plain League gave us a chance,” he said. “It was a great ride and a lot of fun. But as we continue to watch our fans, listen to our fans, and see the incredible response to the Banana Ball, it’s a no-brainer.”
The professional Banana team played a One City World Tour in 2021, added half a dozen sold-out stops to their itinerary in 2022, and recently launched a summer series at Grayson Stadium that included the game’s live broadcast on ESPN2 and the premiere of a five-part series. Bananaland.
Bananas’ eclectic roster includes 75-year-old Bill Lee, a former Major League player known as “Spaceman,” who is best known for entering the games with a heavy beer sip.
During last week’s televised match, There was a scary moment when Li collapsed While warming up in bulls. He stopped breathing before he could be resuscitated by emergency workers and taken to hospital with what was described as a “heart attack”.
Cole said Lee has been discharged from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. In fact, He plans to play again for bananas.
“It’s going to be a huge part of our 2023 tour,” Cole said. “He’s really excited to be back there.”
Cole said he has been contacted by five major league teams to discuss holding matches at their stadiums. It won’t happen next year, but it could be available in 2024.
Bananas will continue to play the bulk of their games against Party Animals, their version of the Harlem Globetrotters’ perennial opponent, the Washington Generals.
But Savannah is also planning matches against other professional teams, most likely from independent minor leagues.
During this year’s tour, Bananas made a two-game split against the MLB’s Kansas City Monarchs, which league became an MLB partner under the minor league reorganization.
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