There was lots of dancing and singing in downtown Fresno on Thursday night.
That’s because the entertainment-oriented Savannah Bananas baseball team entertained a full house of 12,000 fans at Chukchansi Park.
A pre-game contest saw fans toss bananas from the upper deck onto the field, where two men tried to catch them in oversized pants. There were sing-offs, dance-offs, and even a weigh-in.
Now Fresno knows why the Bananas bill themselves as a “World Famous Baseball Circus.”
While it is easy to compare the Bananas to the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, several players said the game played between the lines is legitimate. The rosters of the Bananas and their tour opponent consist of players who made it to the college level, and some beyond into pro ball.
There is plenty of silliness. Everything is celebrated — hits, runs, strikeouts — with a dance routine. Uniform accessories — such as one player wearing overalls — are encouraged.
The Players Play, and Dance
Dakota Albritton of the Bananas plays on stilts, making his height 10’9″. Even with that expanded strike zone, he drew a walk.
Former MLB pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee is on the roster, but he didn’t pitch in Fresno. At 76, the three-time 17-game winner with the Boston Red Sox brags how he can still get hitters out.
Eric Byrnes, the eccentric former 11-year MLB vet who once stole 50 bases in a season, took an at-bat — a break from his broadcast duties. He got on base with a hit, while wearing shorts and a sports coat. He was also wearing a live microphone at the time.
Umpire Vincent Chapman is featured in several viral videos, showing his dance moves after strikeouts — Enrico Pallazzo is an inspiration. He umpired at first base in Fresno, dancing between pitches. The Texarkana, Texas native has umpired for 25 years.
The game may not be for the baseball purist, but the fans in Fresno certainly enjoyed it.