Since its inception in 2016, the Savannah Bananas have taken the world by storm, attracting the attention of national media and accumulating millions of followers across social media platforms.
The team consistently breaks collegiate summer baseball attendance records, selling out every game since their second season.
According to the Bananas' owner Jesse Cole, the concept of the team began as just a fun off-the-cusp idea while brainstorming ways to make baseball more fun.
“It’s crazy cause it was just this 'what if' idea... We always said we were gonna change the game of baseball but we never thought we were going to actually change the game and the rules.” Cole says on their official website.
“It started as a conversation, where if we tweaked some rules, how can the game be better, how can it be faster and how can it be more entertaining. That was kind of our north star for creating this game,” Bananas' coach Tyler Gillum adds to the blog post.
"Banana ball" contains a vastly different set of rules compared to traditional baseball. There is a two-hour time limit, bunting and mound visits are outlawed and every inning is considered a "match" with the winner scoring one point per inning.
Entertainment and showmanship are focal points for the team. Stilts, kilts, splits, TikTok dances and stunts are all common occurrences at Bananas' games.
From the perspective of an audience member, winning is less of a priority than inspiring a lighthearted sense of chaos.
As read on the Bananas' website, Stan Grossfield, of The Boston Globe, said this about his experience attending a game:
"The time limit is great, and the no walks is great, that’s really fun. A lot of the rules are just fun and the entertainment is amazing. A lot of it is scripted but you can’t script some of the things I saw like the guy who proposed to his girlfriend in the stands. You know they do that in Fenway Park but then they don’t send the players up to serenade her, you know. I mean this woman’s face, I mean she was flipping out. I think the game is still a work in progress but if Major League Baseball was smart they’d take the best of it."
The Savannah Bananas have been dubbed "TikTok's favorite baseball team," a title they earned from viral clips of them goofing around on and off the field. Their official TikTok account has amassed nearly 3 million followers.
A video of the team dancing to Lizzo's "About Damn Time" on the field accumulated more than 20 million views earlier this season.
How’d we do? @lizzo #savannahbananas #baseball #mlb #dance #aboutdamntime #viral #fypシ #baseballboys
Cole believes that channelling social media platforms like TikTok is the secret to making IRL games more interesting.
"Baseball games are getting longer and slower, but our attention spans are shorter. We live in a TikTok world. People can get unbelievable entertainment with a flick of their finger. How do you create something that matches that?" Cole told CNN earlier this summer.
Securing tickets to a Savannah Banana's game is no easy feat. The team has sold out every game since their second season. To land a spot in the stadium, their website suggests you can join their priority wait list which will alert you of tickets available for pre-sale.
As of now, their entire 2022 season is officially sold out.