What’s ‘Banana Ball’? 20 issues we noticed in the course of the Savannah Bananas’ cease in Brockton.

Sports activities Information

Dances, acrobatic catches within the outfield, and movie star appearances are common sights at Bananas video games.

MAY 11: Dakota "Stilts" Albritton #14 of the Savannah Bananas pitches against the Party Animals at Grayson Stadium on May 11, 2023 in Savannah, Georgia. Albritton plays Banana Ball on Stilts. He plays the field, bats, and he pitches all while wearing a pair of stilts while playing.
Gamers balancing ladders on their chin, enjoying on stilts and doing backflips at house plate are common sights throughout Bananas video games. (Photograph by Al Bello/Getty Photographs)

BROCKTON, Mass. — Campanelli Stadium performed host to essentially the most sought-after ticket in baseball on Wednesday night time.

No — not the Purple Sox, Yankees, or some other membership in MLB.

We’re speaking concerning the Savannah Bananas — the exhibition baseball squad that’s taking the game by storm, promoting out arenas throughout the U.S. and injecting new wrinkles right into a century-old sport.

The Bananas, who play their very own fan-focused, entertainment-heavy model of baseball known as “Banana Ball,” primarily play their video games at their discipline in Savannah, Grayson Stadium.

However all through this 12 months, the Bananas have launched into a 33-city, 22-state “world tour,” with the crew already utterly promoting out in any respect of their varied stops.

Their distinctive model of baseball has usually made them go viral on social media and has even raised questions on sides of the professional sport, particularly with reference to tempo of play.

So what precisely is a sport of “Banana Ball” like? We stopped by Campanelli Stadium to take a look at the Bananas’ lone sport in Massachusetts this 12 months, with the fan favorites taking up their associate touring crew, the Celebration Animals.

Listed below are 20 issues that stood out from a memorable night time on the ballpark.

1. A musical introduction

There was a big crowd outdoors the ballpark shut to 2 hours earlier than first pitch on Wednesday, because the Bananas bought the festivities began early with a pregame entrance that featured a lead-in from the crew’s pep band.

The Bananas gamers and proprietor Jesse Cole — carrying his trademark yellow tuxedo — high-fived their approach by means of the gang earlier than breaking out into the primary (of many) crew dances on the steps main up the principle gate at Campanelli Stadium.

With a burst of confetti, the gates lastly opened on the ballpark and followers rushed as much as seize their seats. The Bananas gamers greeted the shut to five,000 spectators as they made their approach up the steps, doling out loads of fist-bumps and selfies.

2. Conserving the occasion going

Followers who made it to the stadium early nonetheless discovered loads of leisure upon settling into their seats.

Whether or not it’s gamers balancing bats and ladders on their chin or followers catching bananas from the stands whereas carrying outsized pants, the pre-game itinerary mapped out by the Bananas is in depth.

When the time got here for each the Bananas and Celebration Animals to be launched, a burst from the smoke machines atop the house dugout marked the beginning of a frenzied sequence that noticed an impromptu dance occasion get away round a speaker set, a sequence of gravity-defying bat flips being showcased, and a formidable backflip carried out at house plate.

There’s … lots to soak up earlier than the primary pitch is even delivered.

3. The “Banana Child” 

One of many many pregame traditions for the Bananas main as much as first pitch options the “Banana Child” ceremony, when a younger Bananas fan from the gang is taken onto the sphere and celebrated by the gamers across the pitcher’s mound.

Cue The Lion King music.

4. Trick performs aplenty

Although the Bananas and Celebration Animals are exhibition baseball rosters, there’s nonetheless loads of spectacular expertise sprinkled throughout the diamond.

Whether or not it’s backflip catches in middle discipline, barehanded snags in proper or sit-down grabs on the sizzling nook, the gamers have a knack for making even routine outs thrilling throughout these video games.

5. Dances … loads of dances

With a soundtrack of pop hits and stadium anthems blasting all through the sport, it was all however inevitable that just a few dances have been going to interrupt out throughout Wednesday’s sport.

However nearly each inning? Such was the case for each the Bananas and the Celebration Animals.

Whether or not it’s team-wide dances in between innings, Irish step alongside the dugout, or celebrations at house plate after a run scores, each rosters managed to get loads of train in past what performs out on the plate, within the discipline, and alongside the bottom paths.

6. A frenzied “stroll”

One solution to ramp up the thrill of the sport lies within the augmentation of walks within the “Banana Ball” format.

When ball 4 is known as on the plate, the hitter doesn’t merely advance to first. It alerts the beginning of a mad dash, with the hitter solely compelled to cease after the ball is thrown to each fielder — together with the three outfielders.

It usually results in a frantic sequence the place outfielders rush into the infield so as to halt the hitter, with a rushed and panicked throw probably main the way in which for a once-harmless stroll to show into an inside-the-park house run.

7. An look from Johnny Damon

The Bananas have had no scarcity of former MLB stars making appearances throughout video games this season.

On Wednesday, former Purple Sox star and 2004 World Collection champion Johnny Damon emerged from the dugout as a pinch-hitter within the backside of the primary inning. He promptly laced an RBI single into proper discipline to open the scoring for the Bananas — setting off a celebration out alongside the first-base line.

8. A special scoring system 

Damon’s RBI single within the first held much more weight than only a easy run-scoring play, given “Banana Ball’s” distinctive scoring system.

Somewhat than accumulating runs all through a sport, Bananas video games are scored by factors.

Groups get some extent for scoring essentially the most runs in an inning. If the groups are scoreless or rating the identical quantity, that inning is even and also you go to the following one.

Damon’s RBI single within the backside of the primary represented the lone run of the body, thus giving the purpose to the Bananas.

9. Raining donuts 

Fan giveaways and different promotions are a tried-and-true solution to get followers at stadiums throughout all main sports activities.

However the Bananas go for some fairly straightforward avenues to present their followers some meals or gear — and normally ship them in a immediate method.

One promotion promised followers free donuts if arty Animals batter Garett Delano struck out. When he whiffed for his third strike, Bananas gamers instantly fired donut holes into the gang.

10. Fan problem

One new wrinkle added to “Banana Ball” this season falls within the fan problem rule. Not solely does every crew have an opportunity to problem one ruling (truthful/foul ball, power/tag play name, catches) in a sport, one fan can also be bestowed the consideration throughout a pregame ceremony to be the “decide” of a possible problem name.

If that fan sees a play they need to problem, they fireplace off a blast of confetti from their seat so as to name for a evaluate. Wednesday’s fan problem opted for a evaluate of an in depth name at first that resulted in an infield single for the Celebration Animals. Upon evaluate, the decision was upheld.

11. Dancing umpires

Each the Bananas and the Celebration Animals are removed from the one people out on the diamond who choose to chop a rug on the first alternative. All through Wednesday’s sport, the Bananas’ home-plate umpire danced with gamers on the plate, each catchers and … properly, nearly anybody who walked in his normal neighborhood.

As anticipated, his strike-three calls have been emphatic — normally highlighted by some twerking or spectacular throwback dances like The Worm.

Joe West can be appalled.

12. Distinctive fan competitions 

Whether or not it’s “Dad bod dance-offs,” racing fleet-footed Bananas gamers on the bottom paths, or the traditional “Father-Son catch” (the place dads must catch each of their sons as they run throughout the sphere), there is no such thing as a scarcity of entertaining fan competitions throughout what few lulls there are between innings.

13. Catching passes from Flutie 

The Bananas welcomed one other Boston sports activities legend throughout Wednesday’s sport, calling on former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Doug Flutie within the sixth inning. Earlier than taking the mound to shut out the body, he known as a soccer play together with his new teammates, finally lofting a pigskin over to outfielder Noah Bridges.

Flutie later took half in a fan competitors the place he tried to finish a go to followers that have been donning blindfolded helmets. Sadly, Flutie wasn’t in a position to hyperlink up on any of his go makes an attempt, putting one fan within the aspect of his helmet.

14. Head on a swivel for foul balls

Certainly one of “Banana Ball’s” most fan-focused guidelines helped Flutie escape a jam within the sixth inning.

Throughout Bananas video games, if a fan catches a foul ball within the stands, it counts as an out. A slick seize from one patron signaled the third out of the inning for the Celebration Animals, with the fan getting an ovation on the sphere for his efforts.

15. The tallest baseball participant ever?

The Bananas’ roster is chock filled with proficient athletes able to making circus-like catches within the outfield, stealing bases at will, and {golfing} balls into a budget seats.

However few can replicate what Dakota Albritton brings to the crew. The Ellaville, Georgia native is hard to overlook … contemplating he performs all the sport on stilts.

Whereas Albritton has made appearances on the mound for the Bananas (doing his greatest Randy Johnson impression), he stepped as much as the plate on Wednesday, prompting the home-plate umpire to prop himself up on a field to counter the peak drawback.

16. A fan-led mild present 

As Wednesday’s sport began to wind down within the later innings, the Bananas turned off the lights at Campanelli Stadium and inspired followers to activate the flashlights on their telephones to carry a couple of sudden mild present.

As every phone-powered beacon waved throughout the stadium as one, the Bananas performed Coldplay’s “Yellow” and inspired followers to sing alongside.

17. Dashing issues up

A majority of the “Banana Ball” guidelines concentrate on methods to hurry up the tempo of play throughout a sport.

A few of them embody:

No stepping out of the batter’s field. If a hitter does so, they’re assessed a strike.

No bunting. In any respect. If a hitter does lay down a bunt, they’re robotically ejected from the sport.

No mound visits are permitted as properly.

18. A time restrict? 

Even with these varied guidelines designed to restrict the useless time that may get followers to begin peering at their telephones, the Bananas have one other measure in place to make sure that their video games are brisk: a working clock.

Ranging from first pitch, a countdown usually ticks away. After 1:50 of motion, no new innings are performed. The Bananas and Celebration Animals didn’t run right into a time crunch in what was a low-scoring sport on Wednesday.

However in lopsided blowouts, a working clock stands as a solution to wrap issues up in a well timed vogue.

19. No-man’s land throughout further innings

You thought the “ghost runner” rule throughout further innings was excessive in MLB?

When a sport is tied after 9 innings (or the crew’s working two-hour time restrict ends), the Bananas go for a “Showdown Tiebreaker.”

Within the first spherical, the protection will get solely a pitcher, catcher, and one fielder. If the batter places the ball in play, he should attempt to around the bases and rating earlier than the ball is chased down and thrown house for an out.

Each groups get possibilities to attempt to match one another by scoring a run. Nonetheless, if both crew golf equipment a house run, the sport is robotically over.

20. A walk-off … and a loss for the Bananas? 

In the end, the latter situation performed out for the Celebration Animals, who drilled a pitch previous the fence in proper discipline for a walk-off house run and a 3-2 win in Brockton.

Regardless of the consequence and the entertainment-focused angle of those video games, the Bananas additionally satisfaction themselves on not internet hosting scripted occasions — and have misplaced a number of occasions this season to the Celebration Animals.

The Bananas have left their stamp on baseball because of their number of rule adjustments. However they aren’t messing with baseball’s trademark unpredictability — even when it doesn’t at all times pan out of their favor.