Savannah Bananas

The Savannah Bananas are a baseball team in the Coastal Plain League that began play in 2016. The Bananas play their home games at Grayson Stadium.

Savannah Bananas
SavannahBananas.png
Information
LeagueCoastal Plain League (West)
LocationSavannah, Georgia
BallparkGrayson Stadium
Year founded2016
League championships(2) 2016, 2021
ColorsBlue, Green, Yellow
MascotSplit
OwnershipFans First Entertainment (Jesse & Emily Cole)
CoachTyler Gillum
Websitethesavannahbananas.com

HistoryEdit

Following the departure of the South Atlantic League's Savannah Sand Gnats for Columbia, South Carolina, on September 22, 2015, the Coastal Plain League announced Savannah as its newest team to begin play for 2016. On February 25, following a name-the-team contest, the Bananas name, logo and colors were officially revealed by the team.[2][3]

The Bananas have gained local and national recognition for ticket sales and marketing. The team has sold out every single game played at Grayson Stadium since the 2016 season. Their innovative marketing includes the use of videos including "Bananas are Back," "Tytanic," and "Dancing with Darius."[1]

The 2016 Bananas ended their inaugural season as the 1st seed in the CPL West Division, earning home-field advantage for the first two games of the playoffs. In game one, the Bananas beat the Asheboro Copperheads 3-2 with the first walk-off in franchise history. The Bananas then defeated the Forest City Owls 2-0 to win the CPL West Division championship and advance to the Petitt Cup Championship. Game one of the championship was played at Grayson Stadium, where the Bananas defeated the Peninsula Pilots 8–4. The team traveled to Hampton, Virginia where the Pilots' 4–3 win in game two forced an all-or-nothing game three. The Bananas took home the Petitt Cup after a 9–7 win in game three.[2]

The Bananas continued to generate national attention during their 2017 season with record breaking attendance, breaking their own CPL single season attendance record after only 22 regular season games.[3] In addition, in game entertainment provided by dancer-turned coach Darius Johnson and other promotions were also subject to national coverage.[4]

The Bananas continued their success on the field and at the gates in 2018, finishing with the best regular season record in the CPL at 37–13 and selling out every home game with over a month to go in the regular season.

2019 continued the fun with one of the most popular music video parody's to "Old Town Road". The Bananas sold out the regular season and finished with a 35-15 record.

The Bananas were the first team to announce that they would be playing with fans in the stadium in 2020. With a capacity of 30%, the Bananas continued to make headlines for their popular promotions and videos.

As the 2021 season continues, the Bananas have already made history. The team had the best start in Bananas history by going 11-0 at the beginning of the summer. After winning the first and second half of the West Division, the Bananas advanced to the CPL Petitt Cup Playoffs. In the first best of three series, the Bananas beat the High Point Thomasville HiToms to advance to the Championship. The first game of the Championship series took place in Morehead City, NC against the Morehead City Marlins. The Bananas won 5-4 to secure game one. Game two brought it back home to Grayson Stadium. After a tough battle, the Bananas fell 5-3. This meant the team was going to Game Three. The Bananas offense was hot from the jump when Drew Yniesta hit a three-run homerun. This was followed by another blast from Bryson Bloomer in the bottom of the fourth. The Bananas won by a dime in a 13-3 victory to become the 2021 CPL Champions.

AttendanceEdit

The Bananas recorded over 91,000 total fans at 25 home games in 2016. They broke the CPL's single season attendance record, previously held by the Peninsula Pilots, after only 22 regular season games.

Out of 24 regular season home games, there were 17 sellouts and 2 rain outs. One of three playoff games also sold out.

The team also ranked second in average attendance (3,659 fans per game) among 160 collegiate summer teams across the country.[5]

In 2017, they welcomed 108,498 fans, once again breaking the league's attendance record. They also sold out all regular season games, with an average of 4,173 fans each night.

2018 continued the streak of sold out games, with the entire season being sold out with over a month remaining in the regular season. They brought a total of 118,262 fans to Grayson Stadium, shattering their own previously set league records as well as ranking 2nd in the country in attendance for summer collegiate teams.

In 2019, the team had a total of 117,729 fans. For the fourth year in a row, they led the Coastal Plain League in attendance.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the team reduced capacity to 30% to ensure safe distances between fans. Each game continued to sell out at the new capacity as the Bananas created a safe outdoor space for fans to enjoy the entertainment and game.

The Bananas sold out the 2021 season in July. This is the first season back to full capacity since the pandemic restrictions were lifted.

Banana BallEdit

In 2020, the Bananas debuted a new version of baseball that was designed to make the game faster and more exciting to watch. Banana Ball features nine new rules.[6]

Banana Ball was first tested in 2018 with Wofford College and Lander University players. It was then tested in front of fans at Grayson Stadium in 2019 with an intrasquad scrimmage before its official debut on June 26, 2020. The Bananas added a Banana Ball series in the Spring of 2021.

The Spring Series gained national media attention when MLB players Dallas Braden and Josh Reddick donated hotel rooms for those coming to tryouts to stay in. The Spring Series teams were paid for their play and became the first Professional Bananas Team. The team played two games in Savannah, GA and took the show on the road for the first time to Mobile, AL on the One City World Tour.[7] Jake Peavy dressed in the Bananas uniform and threw out the first pitch at the Opening Night game in Mobile, AL.

In September of 2020, New York State Baseball Hall of Fame writer Kevin Kernan covered the Savannah Bananas for popular baseball history website BallNine.com. At the time, the Bananas were one of the first teams playing baseball with fans after much of the country had been shut down due to Covid.[8]

Popular baseball personality, Jomboy, and his crew came down to cover a game of Banana Ball in Savannah. The YouTube personality's breakdown of the game[9] attracted a lot of attention across all social media platforms.

National media & social mediaEdit

Sports Illustrated stated the Bananas are known for “creating an atmosphere that would make most MLB teams jealous.”[10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Bananas Videos". YouTube. The Savannah Bananas. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  2. ^ "Bananas Win CPL Championship". The Savannah Bananas. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  3. ^ Deen, Nathan (August 2, 2017). "Savannah Bananas break own league attendance record in split with Blowfish". Savannah Morning News. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  4. ^ Dennis, Zach (June 6, 2017). "VIDEO: Savannah Bananas' first base coach's dance moves land him on ESPN, CNN". Savannah Morning News. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  5. ^ Reichard, Kevin (August 15, 2016). "2016 Summer Collegiate Attendance by Average". Ballpark Digest. August Publications. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "Changing the Game of Baseball". The Savannah Bananas. June 25, 2020. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  7. ^ "Thank You Mobile!". YouTube. The Savannah Bananas. March 27, 2021. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  8. ^ https://ballnine.com/2020/09/06/a-banana-bonanza/
  9. ^ "There's a New Version of Baseball in Savannah". YouTube. The Savannah Bananas. March 24, 2021. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  10. ^ Gartland, Dan. "Ballpark proposal involves touching strangers' butts". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 26, 2021.

External linksEdit