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Baseball team's wacky traditions bringing in the fans

The Savannah Bananas are generating thousands of fans for their untraditional baseball games that combine sports and entertainment.
Baseball team's wacky traditions bringing in the fans
Posted at 8:00 PM, Apr 30, 2023

The Savannah Bananas are having a major impact on the game of baseball. 

"We're just trying to be the most fun team in baseball and try to create the greatest show in sports," said the team's founder Jesse Cole.

The exhibition team has made a name for itself by pairing sports with wacky traditions— from a "baby banana blessing" to a 65 and up dance team known as the "Banana Nanas."

"We’re young seniors and we range from Age 65 to 82," said Karen Olenick.

The players even get in on the fun— performing music for fans.

The goal is to keep the stands filled and the fans happy.

"It's not just people who are here to see baseball," said fan Patrice Suplicki. "It's people here to people to see a show."

The team has gained international fanfare due to their viral TikTok videos. Nearly every post has tens of millions of views.

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Cole said starting this team was a big risk.

"My wife and I had to sell our house, empty out our savings account," he said. "We were sleeping on an air bed just seven years ago, and then we were like, 'All right, we're just going to create a great experience,' and then just start capturing it and showing it to the people.

Cole said they didn't spend money on marketing, but they kept posting videos about the unique experience their team is offering. 

"It's one ticket price and it includes all your burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, soda, water, popcorn, dessert," Cole said. "That's here in Savannah for $25 total."

The idea has been a hit. The team sells out every single game. There's also a waitlist of 500,000 people hoping to get a ticket.

It's not just the fans who enjoy the atmosphere. Cole said players come from around the country for the chance to interact with fans like they never have before. 

"It's like nothing I've ever done before and get to be a part of it is such a blessing and just so grateful to be here every day," said Dalton Mauldin. 

The fans see the work the players invest in making them laugh, dance and smile— and say it's changing how they view baseball.

"I'm not your traditional baseball fan. And so if I know him going into the game, not going to see your granddad's old baseball, that's for me what brings me in," said Matt Manning, who drove from South Carolina to watch a game. 

The team hopes their emphasis on entertainment will bring more fans to the game.

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