Top Banana Making Baseball Fun
“How can we provide the best fan experience in the world?” If you’re Jesse Cole, the answer is, change every freakin’ rule of the game. The baseball team owner and entrepreneur in a yellow tux, along with his wife Emily and a team of dedicated disruptors, launched the now wildly popular Savannah Bananas in 2016 when the city’s longtime minor league club skipped town. From the team kilts (er, uniforms) to the Banana Nanas (um, granny dance team) and Man-Nanas (ahem, a dad bod cheerleading squad) to the all-you-can-eat concessions (yes, included in your $25 ticket), fans at the historic Grayson Stadium and on TikTok get an entirely different ballpark experience — and an ever-evolving uniquely new fandomification. A little bit Harlem Globetrotters with a dash of screwball comedy and a bunch of influencer prowess, the team has captured hearts and minds globally, and has since moved on from its three Coastal Plain League Petitt Cup championships to become an exhibition team playing (and dancing) literally by its own rules — “Banana Ball.”
The Bananas have everything you didn’t know you needed in a baseball game and more, including a breakdancing first base coach, an advertising-free ballpark, and a whole lotta organized shenanigans. The team, which now competes alongside its “rival” the Party Animals, both owned and operated by parent company Fans First Entertainment, launched its first “world tour” upon transitioning to exhibition play status and has expanded to an 80 game 2023 schedule. When Jesse isn’t emceeing in his signature head-to-toe yellow tux, he’s got the Banana Academy, offering kids ages 6-13 the opportunity to learn from team members at summer camps, and Bananas Foster, the org’s 501c(3) dedicated to nurturing the foster care community in full swing. With an original series streaming on ESPN+ (don’t miss Bananaland) to ubiquitous coverage across the airwaves and blowing up your feed, the team and everything it represents, are nothing if not, well, b-a-n-a-n-a-s.