Savannah Bananas – the Harlem Globetrotters of Baseball
The Savannah Bananas are an exhibition baseball team based in Savannah, Georgia. Until 2022, the Bananas competed in the Coastal Plain League’s (CPL) West division where they won three Petitt Cup championships (2016, 2021, and 2022).
Following the 2022 summer league season, the Bananas announced they were folding their collegiate amateur team and only playing “Banana Ball”. They now barnstorm across the country.
Banana Ball is the new version of baseball invented by Jesse Cole. He designed the game to be played faster – banging out 9 innings in just two hours – highlighting only the things fans love about baseball and cutting out the things they don’t. The game is filled with theatrics, unlike anything you’ve ever seen, similar to what the Harlem Globetrotters do for basketball.
Savanah Bananas RULES
Banana Ball differs from standard baseball and has 9 rules:
- Every inning counts – The team that gets the most runs in an inning gets a point. The first team to five points wins.
- Two hour time limit – If the game is tied at the end of two hours, the game will go into a showdown to determine a winner.
- No stepping out – If the batter steps out of the box, it’s a strike.
- No bunting – If a batter bunts, they will be thrown out of the game.
- Batters can steal first – If a passed ball or wild pitch happens during any pitch of an at-bat, the batter can take off to first.
- No walks allowed – If a pitcher throws a fourth ball, it becomes a sprint. The hitter will take off running while the catcher has to throw the ball around to every defensive player on the field before it becomes a live ball. The hitter can advance to as many bases as he can. The ball does not have to touch the catcher or the pitcher.
- No mound visits allowed – No mound visits from the coach, catcher, or any other players.
- If a fan catches a foul ball, it’s an out – Get your gloves ready. But whatever you do, don’t catch a Bananas foul ball.
- 1-on-1 showdown tiebreaker – Each team picks one pitcher and one hitter to face off. The defensive team only has the pitcher, catcher, and one fielder on the field. If a hitter puts the ball in play, he has to score and make it home to get a point. If the ball is put in play, the pitcher and fielder are allowed to chase the ball and throw it to the catcher for a play at the plate. If a pitcher strikes the hitter out or gets him out before scoring, he doesn’t get a point. If the batter walks, he takes second and the hitting team will bring in another hitter to the plate.
Party Animals Come to Play
Banana Ball games are typically played against the Party Animals, a team created and recruited by the Savannah Bananas. Players from one team have even switched to the other team from year to year. Players on both teams have had strong collegiate baseball careers.
Savanna Bananas Creator, Jesse Cole
Jesse Cole is the founder of Fans First Entertainment, who owns and operates the Savannah Bananas. The Bananas have welcomed more than one million fans to their ballpark and have been featured on MSNBC, CBS Sunday Morning, Access Hollywood, HBO Real Sports, CNN, and ESPN.
Cole is an in-demand speaker and author of Find Your Yellow Tux – How to Be Successful by Standing Out and Fans First, Change the Game, Break the Rules & Create an Unforgettable Experience. He even created Savannah Banana Ale which is served in the ballpark. Cole believes to be successful you need to stand out and be different.
Historic Grayson Stadium
William L. Grayson Stadium is a baseball stadium in Savannah, Georgia. It is the home field of the Savannah Bananas. It was the part-time home of the Savannah State University college baseball team from 2009 to 2011 and the Savannah Sand Gnats from 1984 to 2015 prior to the Bananas. Built in 1926, it holds 4,000 people.
Even when the Savanah Bananas are not in town, you can still visit the gift shop, and can usually walk around the stands. Many fans who visited were also told to feel free and walk around, where they can sign the outfield wall, take photos in the dugouts, and even visit the world’s smallest banana bookstore.
Bananaland on ESPN
Discover how Savannah Bananas baseball is combining new rules and entertainment to create the greatest show in sports. All episodes are available on ESPN+. Tune in to Bananaland on ESPN.
The Savannah Bananas Story
This is the journey of becoming the Bananas, the real story with never before seen footage. This is A Fans First Film produced by Ben Sheffield.
The Greatest Show in Sports
This is the Greatest Show in Sports. Better Than any sporting event you’ve ever been to. The Savannah Bananas are a baseball team with one goal… to make baseball FUN!