clearn.png
Monday October 3rd, 2022 7:32AM

Savannah Bananas leaving college league for full-time antics

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

The Savannah Bananas, who became a national sensation with their irreverent style of baseball, are leaving the Coastal Plain League to focus full attention on their professional barnstorming team.

Owner Jesse Cole made the announcement in a YouTube video, saying “we'll be able to bring the Savannah Bananas to more people in Savannah and around the world.”

The Bananas joined the summer league for college players in 2016, playing in historic Grayson Stadium after the departure of the city's longtime minor league team.

The amateur team was an immediate sensation, on and off the field. With antics that drew attention from national media and a team that won three CPL titles, including the last two, the Bananas have sold out every home game since their founding.

Cole built on that success by launching a pro team that plays a version of the game known as “Banana Ball,” which includes a 2-hour time limit, no restrictions to the on-field revelry (from wearing kilts to a player who uses stilts), and offbeat rules such as no walks, no bunting and outs being counted when a fan catches a ball in the stands.

The response prompted Cole to go all-in on a team that can play more games in Savannah — where the owner says his team has a waiting list for tickets that has grown to 80,000 — and on the road.

The CPL team played 24 home games a season, a number that will grow into the 30s next year. Also, the barnstorming Bananas plan to play in some 25 cities in 2023.

Cole said leaving the CPL was a bittersweet but necessary decision.

“The Coastal Plain League gave us an opportunity,” he said. “It's been a great journey and a ton of fun. But as we continued to watch our fans and listen to our fans and saw the amazing response to Banana Ball, it became a no-brainer.”

The pro Bananas played a one-city “world tour” in 2021, added a half-dozen sold-out stops to their itinerary in 2022, and recently launched a summer series at Grayson Stadium that included the live telecast of a game on ESPN2 and the premier of a five-part series “Bananaland.”

The Bananas' eclectic roster includes Bill Lee, the 75-year-old former major league pitcher known as “Spaceman," who has been known to enter games guzzling a beer.

During last week's televised game, there was a scary moment when Lee collapsed while warming up in the bullpen. He has stopped breathing before being resuscitated by emergency workers and taken to a hospital with what was described as a “cardiac episode.”

Cole said Lee has been released from the hospital and expects to make a full recovery. In fact, he plans to pitch again for the Bananas.

“He's going to be a big part of our 2023 tour,” Cole said. “He's really excited to get back out there.”

Cole said he's been contacted by five major league teams to discuss holding games in their ballparks. It won't happen next year, but could be on tap for 2024.

The Bananas will continue to play the bulk of their games against the Party Animals, their version of the Harlem Globetrotters' perennial opponent, the Washington Generals.

But Savannah also plans games against other professional teams, most likely from independent minor leagues.

During this year's tour, the Bananas split two games against the Kansas City Monarchs of the American Association, which became an MLB partner league under minor league realignment.

___

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Baseball , AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - Major League Baseball, AP Sports - Minor League Baseball
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Paul Newman's daughters sue late actor's charity foundation
A new lawsuit has exposed a rift between two of Paul Newman’s daughters and the late actor’s charitable foundation funded by profits from the Newman's Own line of food and drink products
5:06PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Columbus teachers strike on first day back to school
A strike by teachers in Ohio's largest school district is continuing for a third day on the first day of school for its 47,000 students
5:04PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Woods, McIlroy behind tech-infused golf league in TV venture
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are bringing their own version of team golf to the PGA Tour
4:49PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Braves drill slumping Pirates 14-2, complete 3-game sweep
Kyle Wright allowed two hits over seven efficient innings and the Atlanta Braves drilled the sloppy Pittsburgh Pirates 14-2 to complete a three-game sweep
4:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons hope they're a good match
Marcus Mariota and the Atlanta Falcons hope they are a good match
3:21PM ( 1 hour ago )
Rebuilding Falcons face low expectations in 2022
Expectations are low for the Atlanta Falcons, who are taking a huge salary cap hit after dealing longtime quarterback Matt Ryan to the Colts
2:30PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Judge 48th HR, Yanks beat Mets 4-2 to sweep Subway Series
Aaron Judge hit a 453-foot drive halfway up the bleachers for his 48th home run and added an RBI single during a seventh-inning rally, boosting the Yankees past the Mets 4-2 for a two-game sweep in a Subway Series both teams hope was a World Series prelude
1:39AM ( 15 hours ago )
Verlander 6 no-hit innings, 16th W; Astros top Correa, Twins
Justin Verlander was pulled after pitching six no-hit innings in his major league-leading 16th win and the Astros beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 in Carlos Correa’s return to Houston
1:36AM ( 15 hours ago )
Parents of Astros' Alvarez come from Cuba to see 1st game
Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez had three extra special guests at Minute Maid on Park on Tuesday night
1:32AM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Baseball
Witness: Desperate R. Kelly offered $1M for return of video
A former merchandizing agent for R. Kelly has testified that the singer offered him $1 million for the return of a VHS tape featuring Kelly
4:17PM ( 57 minutes ago )
Phillies' Harper homers in 1st at-bat in Triple-A rehab game
Phillies slugger Bryce Harper has hit a home run in his first at-bat for Philadelphia’s Triple-A team as part of his rehabilitation assignment from a broken left thumb
8:40PM ( 20 hours ago )
Justin Lower lost PGA Tour card, LIV might help get it back
Justin Lower lost his PGA Tour card in brutal fashion when he three-putted from 60 feet on the final hole of the regular season
5:09PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Assad, 4 relievers help Cubs stop Cards' 8-game streak, 2-0
Javier Assad pitched four scoreless innings in his major league debut and combined with four relievers on a five-hitter as the Chicago Cubs cooled off the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 in the first game of a doubleheader
7:00PM ( 22 hours ago )
Yanks' Cashman backs Boone to turn `slings' into 'bouquets'
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman responded to his team's funk with some flowery language and belief in manager Aaron Boone, the coaches and players
12:15AM ( 1 day ago )
Odorizzi Ks 7, Harris homers; Braves top Pirates 2-1
Jake Odorizzi struck out seven and Michael Harris II homered for each of Atlanta’s two runs, helping the Braves gain in the NL East with a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night
11:43PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - Major League Baseball
Harris, Contreras lead Braves' rally for sweep of Marlins
Rookie Michael Harris II hit a tying homer in the ninth, William Contreras hit a go-ahead single and the Atlanta Braves rallied to beat the Miami Marlins 3-1 for a sweep of their four-game series
6:33PM ( 1 week ago )
Longtime minor leaguer Bernard helps Rockies beat Arizona
Longtime minor leaguer Wynton Bernard singled, stole a base and scored in his major league debut, helping the Colorado Rockies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3
12:40AM ( 1 week ago )
Braves call up top prospect Grissom, bring back RHP Yates
The Atlanta Braves have made a couple of big moves
5:07PM ( 2 weeks ago )
AP Sports - Minor League Baseball
Paul Newman's daughters sue late actor's charity foundation
A new lawsuit has exposed a rift between two of Paul Newman’s daughters and the late actor’s charitable foundation funded by profits from the Newman's Own line of food and drink products
5:06PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Columbus teachers strike on first day back to school
A strike by teachers in Ohio's largest school district is continuing for a third day on the first day of school for its 47,000 students
5:04PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Woods, McIlroy behind tech-infused golf league in TV venture
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are bringing their own version of team golf to the PGA Tour
4:49PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Utah sues Biden over move to restore 2 national monuments
Utah state and county officials have sued the Biden administration over the president’s decision last year to restore two sprawling national monuments on rugged lands sacred to Native Americans that President Donald Trump had downsized
4:48PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Stocks edge higher as Wall Street waits for Fed speech
Stocks ticked higher as traders avoided big moves ahead of a highly anticipated speech about interest rates later this week
4:43PM ( 31 minutes ago )