By: Alfonse Dello Russo
A team out of Savannah, Ga. has been gaining traction for its interesting way of playing baseball. After many seasons with very few people in attendance the Savannah Bananas, a minor league baseball team, has been consistently selling out stadiums ever since the team changed owners in 2016.
Fans now come to watch the collegiate level baseball players who are there to play baseball. The team has been very good in the past years, winning the CPL (Coastal Plain League) championship in 2016.
The main problem people have when watching baseball is that the game is boring and slow; also, since most stadiums are outdoors, weather can make watching less than optimal.
But the Bananas have capitalized on making the game entertaining for all ages.
“We want to do the opposite of what is normal,” said owner Jesse Cole in an interview posted on Baseball America. “We are looking to create an event that has people electrified in their seats waiting for the next performance.”
The coaches and cheerleaders entertain the audience with their mid-inning performances and constant engagement with the fans. The first base coach is known for his break dance with the dance team who are all senior women. The third base coach even wears cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.
But is this the right way to play? The team has got a few complaints from other teams in the league saying,“This isn’t real baseball,” and,“You’re only doing this for the money.”
However, baseball should be much bigger than money, and more about building an inclusive culture. According to the article, the Bananas used to bring in 300 fans per game and now they’re averaging around 4,000, with 10,000 usually on a waiting list, eagerly waiting for the next game.
This fan-forward culture has really changed the way all (fans or otherwise) see baseball. In Savannah, fans, who come dressed up and ready to support the Bananas, will often bring non-fans to games who leave realizing that baseball is fun and that a 3-hour game can absolutely be an enjoyable experience.
In today’s world, people are so divided and it sounds so silly that a simple circus baseball team could bring people together. The Savannah Bananas do that and have created an engaging and inclusive culture that more and more people want to be, and should be, a part of everyday.