Credit: Benjamin Payne / GPB News
Savannah Bananas embark on cross-country tour of no-holds-barred baseball, beginning in Florida
LISTEN: The Savannah Bananas will travel to 33 cities in the U.S. this year, starting Friday in West Palm Beach, Florida. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.
Banana Ball is back — and in more places than ever before.
It all starts Friday night, when the Savannah Bananas take the field in West Palm Beach, Fla., to open their 33-city tour across the country.
This is the first year in which the team will play nothing but Banana Ball — their signature, no-holds-barred brand of baseball featuring highly unorthodox rules.
“There's going to be a huge addition of trick plays and more entertainment, more excitement and a faster game,” Bananas owner Jesse Cole said. “Our players are training to be able to even strike out guys in less than 15 seconds. And then to see the demand: now there's over 500,000 people on a waitlist just to get tickets.”
To help meet the sky-high demand, Cole said that he plans to announce more games later in the year.
“We have an obligation to bring this show to more people,” Cole said. “We're focused on the future generations. Little League participation has declined. Major League attendance has dropped over 13 million over the last 15 years. We feel we have a responsibility to help bring the joy and the fun back to the game, and that's what we're trying to do.”
General admission tickets sold through the team have held steady at $25, while some tickets sold on the secondary market through websites such as Stubhub have gone for hundreds of dollars.
Most games will see the Bananas square off against the Party Animals — a squad fielded by the same organization — but some games will instead see the Bananas compete against minor-league teams such as the Florence Y'alls and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
In addition, the Bananas will host a team of collegiate and professional players from Australia for four games in June, as well as play three games against squads of retired MLB players, beginning on March 11 in Savannah.
Their home opener is set for Feb. 25, which will mark seven years to the day that the franchise unveiled their zany name.
Cole said that he is already well into booking venues for 2024, which will feature “some of the biggest announcements people have ever seen.”