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This Is Why Banana Ball Drew 31,000 for the Series in Fresno
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By Anthony Haddad
Published 3 weeks ago on
May 6, 2024
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The Savannah Bananas have become a sensation by blending entertainment and baseball, drawing massive crowds. (Composite/Savannah Bananas & Paul Marshall//Video/Savannah Bananas & Eric Martinez)

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If you’re unaware of the Savannah Banana phenomenon, you must be actively avoiding social media, as the team and their rivals, the Party Animals, captivate audiences with a blend of dancing, games, and baseball, drawing nearly 31,000 fans during their three-day series in Fresno.

The Bananas sold out their three games in Fresno at Chukchansi Park this last weekend and will be at six Major League parks during their current tour.

Fans gather around the Savannah Bananas in Mesa, Arizona. (Savannah Bananas)

The Art of Banana Ball

They play a unique game called “Banana Ball,” featuring 11 distinct rules that involve fans, such as allowing a fan to catch a foul ball resulting in the hitter being declared out.

“We’re here to make baseball fun…We bring this joy when this happens,” says Bananas President Jared Orton. “We’re bringing people together. I mean, there (are) many people traveling from all over the West Coast and sometimes all over the country to come see this game.”

Banana Ball is not just a game; it’s a two-hour immersive experience designed to ensure that fans are thoroughly entertained.

From the moment you step into the stadium until the final pitch is thrown, the Bananas are committed to creating excitement and engagement.

A Fresh Experience Every Game

The Bananas take pride in their ability to present a fresh show every game. Orton noted that the fans “should be prepared for something you’ve never seen before in your life.”

The team’s entertainment coordinator, Avery Hughes, oversaw the rehearsals before the games.

“They started off in baseball and then now we’re slowly teaching them dancing and they’ve gotten good at it,” Hughes said. “But I think for me it’s mostly about finding things that they love and that they’re interested in doing because you can guide a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. So it’s about finding those things that they’re inspired by.”

The Savannah Bananas rehearsing before their second game in Fresno, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (GV Wire)

Alongside the Bananas tour, their traveling foils, the Party Animals, are gearing up for their own tour. “They’re opening up in Savannah and then we will be heading to (Las) Vegas,” Hughes explained. The Party Animals are set to compete against a newly formed team called the Firefighters.

The Party Animals’ tour spans five weeks, with two weeks in Savannah, followed by a week in Las Vegas. Subsequently, they will play in Greenville, South Carolina, and Greensboro, North Carolina.

Bananas Go Viral: Unleashing the Power of Social Media

The Bananas’ social media presence has skyrocketed, expanding their audience and allowing fans to follow their activities while on tour.

This success has turned many players into online personalities, including infielder Jackson Olson, who has leveraged his online following to attract more fans to Banana games and engage with them in person.

Olson highlighted how this opportunity enables him to interact directly with his online followers: “I was able to see these followers in real life, and I was able to see them at my games. And we’re all able to see that, a lot of the guys are growing their followings, and they’re seeing the same thing of like, oh my gosh, I follow you on TikTok or I follow you on Instagram. It’s a cool thing because a lot of influencers aren’t able to do that.”

Orton commented on their social media content, saying “Whether it’s something that’s viral or a heartwarming story. … It’s like we’re trying to show people this is what baseball could be. This is making baseball fun.”

 

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Adding an Olympian to the Show

Jocelyn Alo is a professional softball player and Olympian who signed a one-month contract with the Bananas.

“I told my agent I was like, this is just too good of an opportunity to pass up. Like, I think we have to make this work with whatever schedule we can. And thankfully we did,” she said.

“I got here and I’ve just been welcomed with open arms and the guys have been nothing but great to me. And I’m just learning a lot every day, from them. And I’m just enjoying every step.”

During the opening night in Fresno, Alo recorded her first hit as a Banana. After the game, she was greeted by groups of fans holding her new Bananas jersey and taking photos with her.

She also had a message to her fans looking to follow her path.

“Always make sure that your grades are taken care of. You’re not going to get nowhere if you don’t have a good education,” she said. “The hard work you put in is going to benefit you in the long run. … Be grateful for the sacrifices your family’s had to make.”

Jocelyn Alo batting at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, Saturday, May 4, 2024. (Savannah Bananas)

Californians in the Banana Universe

Returning to their home state, players expressed their joy in reuniting with loved ones and recounted their journey of joining this franchise.

Bronson Balholm, a California native and the catcher for the Party Animals, started his journey young. He credited his mom for teaching him how to play baseball.

“She’s been my day one. I mean, from when I was, born. I say that she was putting a catcher glove on me and get me ready to receive some baseballs, because that was what it felt like. We would always go out back, and she’d always be throwing me the little tiny Wiffle balls, and she’d have me do baseballs with every one of my fingers.”

Several Californians are part of the Bananas organization, such as outfielder Reese Alexiades from Manhattan Beach and outfielder Robert Anthony Cruz from Fontana. Similarly, the Party Animals include pitcher Dylan Porter from Richmond, pitcher Dalton Ponce from Fontana, pitcher Riyan Rodriguez from Newhall, and Balholm from Los Angeles.

Looking for tickets? Check out their upcoming schedule!

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Anthony Haddad,
Multimedia Journalist
Anthony W. Haddad, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with his undergraduate degree and has an MBA at Fresno State, is the Swiss Army knife of GV Wire. He writes stories, manages social media, and represents the organization on the ground.

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