The Savannah Bananas brought their you’d-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it show back to their home state Saturday. They amazed and delighted fans at Coolray Field across a three-game series against the Party Animals this weekend.

Once just a summer collegiate team, the Bananas have transformed into what ESPN described as “the greatest show in sports.” It’s hard to argue against their case, as their trip back to their home state illustrated. Every Bananas event carries immense demand. The Bananas have a ticket wait list of over 2 million people, and owner Jesse Cole said there were “probably a couple hndred thousand looking for tickets for these games (in the Atlanta area).”

“This is probably one of our top-five cities,” Cole said. “The support has been unbelievable. This Atlanta market is one of our most popular markets by far. You can tell. Fans were lining up at 8 a.m. ready for the game. People were ready to rock.”

There’s a reason the Bananas are so popular. Their games are ever-changing experiences, constantly surprising with hilarious absurdities that make for evolutionary entertainment in the sports world.

“There’s nothing you can compare this to,” said Bananas infielder Gabe Howell, a Trion native whom the Braves drafted in 2016. “Banana Ball and baseball are two different animals. We just come out here, have a good time, entertain the crowd and see what Gwinnett’s all about.”

Savannah Bananas owner Jesse Cole and team members welcome a Banana Baby before the game. (Hyosub Shin /


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Where to even begin …

Less than an hour before first pitch, Princess Potassium serenaded the crowd from the infield, welcoming fans to the show. The Banana “Split” was all over the place, more of a showman than even the bolder mascots throughout sports.

Peek into the dugout, you’ll find more saxophones than scouting reports. Yes, the Bananas have a band that helps create the circus-esque atmosphere. The cheerleaders are a bit unconventional, too; the official “Man-Nana,” considered part of the “Dad Bod Cheerleading Squad,” is aptly named.

Players break out dancing at home plate between innings. They might piggy-back to home plate during them. Constant sing-a-longs keep fans cheerfully engaged. For example, the Burger King “Whopper” song played during an at-bat and the stadium felt more like a concert as fans joined in. Then you’ll see the umpire break dancing at home plate. Or a random “do-nut” chant unfolding during an inning while players hold up giant inflatable donuts. You’ll also see a player on stilts firing up the crowd (his name is Dakota Albritton, coined “the world’s tallest baseball player”).

The Bananas are known for their special local guests. Hitting seventh the first time through the order Saturday: Jeff Francoeur, former Braves player and current announcer. He reached on an infield error, but was thrown out trying to take second base.

As the Bananas remind fans before the game: “This is not baseball. This is not your grandad’s pastime. … This is the greatest show in sports. This is Banana Ball.”

Party Animals and Savannah Bananas players have a dance battle before the game. (Hyosub Shin /


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Banana Ball plays by a much different set of rules, centered on entertainment rather than competition. For instance, among the guidelines, as the team so eloquently put it: “There is no bunting because bunting sucks.”

Yes, technically, it’s sort of baseball, but this is more about grand performance. It’s the ultimate fan-centric show that caters to kids and adults. The Bananas will even lose, as they did Saturday afternoon; not that the result alters the experience. The charm is in the unexpected, Cole notes.

“(Saturday night) we’ll do 15 different things we didn’t do in the (day game),” said Cole, who’s known as the “man in the yellow tux” on game days. “Every night is different. Dramatically different from the (Harlem) Globetrotters. So when people make that comparison, I say, ‘Nah, it’s different. It’s dramatically different.’ And the Bananas lost the first game. How often do the Globetrotters lose? That’s all I think about (is fun).”

The Bananas have become a legitimate sensation. One somewhat crazy idea has become a resounding success.

The club began as a summer collegiate team in the Coastal Plain League in 2016. In 2022, the Bananas branch out into their own world with Banana Ball. What a decision: The Bananas went viral and became a traveling phenomenon, extending well beyond their original Savannah base.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Bananas sold out Minute Maid Park in Houston – the very venue in which the Braves won the World Series three years ago – and that was their first time filling a major-league park. The Bananas will visit five other MLB stadiums this year and also have a cruise, titled “Bananaland at Sea,” in October.

“My wife and I were sleeping on an air bed eight years ago,” Cole said. “We had to sell our house. We only sold a handful of tickets. We were down to our last dollar. So to see what’s happened, selling out major-league stadiums, playing in front of a million fans, which is more than an NFL team, it’s crazy. We’re just having fun.”

This spectacle will only continue expanding.

“Jesse has had a vision from the get-go,” said Bananas closer Austin Krzeminski, who grew up in Roswell. “Everything he’s said, everything has come true. To see it day in and day out is amazing. It’s just the beginning.”

The Bananas were rained out Friday night, so they hosted a day-night doubleheader that began at noon Saturday. Despite a smaller crowd for the rescheduled early game, one Bananas staffer remarked, “This place is so loud” during the pregame festivities. The noise never subsided as the goofiness persisted. Players, many of whom are from Georgia, were impressed by the enthusiasm.

Savannah Bananas players entertain fans. (Hyosub Shin /


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These athletes each have unique stories as to how they landed here. They’re appreciative of the opportunity to continue playing baseball – again, some form of it – and provide such joy for others in doing so. Krzeminski, for example, was part of the Cubs’ minor-league system as recently as 2022. Howell, who also played at Georgia Gwinnett College, was part of the Bananas before they took this route and has seen the transformation firsthand.

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had,” Howell said. “It’s the most fun I’ve had playing the game. Before this, the second-best time I had was in 2019-20, when I was a Savannah Banana then in the collegiate summer league.

“Some of the stuff we do, some of the stuff I see on a daily basis, it’s unreal, man. You really can’t take your eyes off the field because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The Bananas’ emphasis is fans first. The fans reflect that, too, in how much they cherish the interactive experience. Behind all the silliness, the Bananas are doing a lot of good for people.

Extra Special People, a Georgia organization that produces “transformative experiences for people with disabilities and their families,” was well-represented Saturday in the crowd. One Athens staffer, Ayden Engberg, dressed in a Banana costume. Her co-workers were draped in Bananas merch and had signs supporting their organization and the team. One staffer, decked out in Bananas, even threw out the first pitch.

“The Savannah Bananas and ESP have a similar culture,” CEO Laura Hope-Whitaker said. “We have a Miracle League program, we have a parking-lot parade every day when our participants arrive with crazy costumes and pom-poms. This is a way for us to honor our staff while celebrating our mission and what we do.”

“We believe in community. We believe in celebration. That’s really what the Savannah Bananas believe in, too, so it works together. … This is us every day. We’re able to provide services for people with disabilities because of this enthusiasm, so we thought it’d be fun to provide a transformative experience for our staff in the way we provide those experiences for our participants.”

The Bananas finish their Gwinnett visit Sunday afternoon. They’ll return to Savannah for a five-game homestand at the end of March.

Savannah Bananas fans cheer before the game. (Hyosub Shin /


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