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Nashville Goes Nuts For the Savannah Bananas

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Savannah Bananas baseball team were a hit even before they stepped onto the field at First Horizon Park in Nashville, Tennessee. Both of their games in Music City that took place on June 02 and June 03, 2023 were sold-out and packed with capacity standing-room crowds filled with enthusiastic fans of all ages.

Banana Ball comes to Nashville.

The Savannah Bananas are an exhibition baseball squad from Savannah, Georgia. They can be compared to the Harlem Globetrotters for their unique spin on a sport that is rich in tradition. The franchise team was founded in 2016 and has played at Grayson Stadium since its inaugural season. Until 2022, the Bananas competed in the Coastal Plain League's (CPL) West division - where they won three Petitt Cup championships (2016, 2021, and 2022). However, due to the popularity of their "Banana Ball" brand and fun format they now play showcase games against their touring team the Party Animals along with other professional clubs.

Billed as "The Greatest Show in Sports" the Banana Ball is scheduled to hit 33 cities in 22 states along with plenty of dates at their home field during 2023. Their competitions follow the basics of baseball but they have their own rules, for instance: although they play 9 innings, each game is limited to 2 hours so in the last inning every run counts. If the score is the same at the end, a Showdown Tiebreaker with its own set of decrees unfolds. Other unique regulations are: if a fan catches a foul ball, it is an out so, please don't catch a Banana foul. Also, no bunting, because it "sucks" and that hitter will be ejected from the contest. There are even more layers to peel back as the match evolves.

A one-handed grab stopped the Party Animals in their tracks.

On the 2nd, a sizable turnout was lined up well before the gates were opened at First Horizon Park. Plenty of people were wearing banana themed clothes and some were dressed up as the fruit itself. Banana Ball is family friendly with quite a few kids armed with baseball gloves. As fans were finding their seats, stars from both the Bananas and the Party Animals clad in black and fluorescents were by the stands to say hi and sign autographs. There is a reason why folks arrive early as the merriment starts while the players warm up. There was chats with the crowds, games of skill such as "banana in the pants", a dance off with the "Dad Bod Cheer Squad" and more.

In lieu of play by play action, music is piped in which works well as the athletes present choreographed dances at each game plus songs give fans opportunities to sing along to classics such as "YMCA". They also will parody well-known tunes; most people will recognize what "we will peal you" is. There was yoga along with more contests for the kids such as a pillow fight that took place during the inning change overs. Their hitter's walk-ups are also a spectacle. Bananas may be escorted to the plate by the Banana Pep Band, prance down the yellow carpet wearing the finest Dolce and Banana, or they may even introduce themselves.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee and a guy on stilts were all part of the spectacle.

The Bananas don't take themselves too seriously but this league does like to pay tribute to the majors. Friday, two former pros took the field. Both Zack Duke and Bill "Spaceman" Lee threw a pitch but they were bested when the World's Tallest Hitter & Pitcher - Dakota "Stilts" Albritton who stands at 10 feet tall appeared and took the mound.

Shenanigans are a big part of a Banana Bowl, as the song "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" (Kenny Chesney) echoed through the venue a Banana member drove out in you guessed it a tractor, parking it right behind the pitcher's mound, so everyone had to work around it until it was moved and then it was back to baseball - sort of - as the time kept ticking down.

Uh, who put a tractor on the field?

Banana Ball is where the circus meets sports! A family friendly night filled with fly balls and fun. From the moment the gates opened to the last score that found the Bananas victors both teams delivered an engaging evening of entertainment in a format that seems to be highly appealing with fans from around the country.

The Banana Ball hosts - First Horizon Park - is home to the Nashville Sounds a Minor League Baseball team. This venue which can accommodated other events features a 360-degree game viewing experience; spacious concourses all within view of the on-field action; unique group outing spaces; an expansive club level and games such as ping-pong. Their signature guitar scoreboard measures 4,200 square feet keeps attendees informed of the score and can be used for videos.

Unlike the Washington Generals the Party Animals often win their games - just not on Saturday in Music City.

Related Links: For more information on THE SAVANNAH BANANAS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - The Savannah Bananas | First Horizon Park


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