The Savannah Bananas are to make their Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium debut in 2024 as they visit six of the league’s ballparks during their forthcoming tour.
The exhibition team will appear at an MLB venue for the first time when they play at Minute Maid Park in Houston in March. Their 2024 schedule also includes stops at Fenway Park in Boston, Nationals Park in Washington DC, Progressive Field in Cleveland, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, and LoanDepot Park in Miami.
In total, the Bananas are due to play in front of an unprecedented one million fans across 29 cities and 20 states in 2024. The tour will feature the Bananas, the Party Animals and a new team for 2024, the Firefighters. The teams play banana ball, which is a variation of baseball, with a focus on entertaining the crowd.
“We continue to think big with Banana Ball and are thrilled to announce our most ambitious schedule yet,” said Bananas owner Jesse Cole.
“From playing in front of 500,000 fans in 2023 to now entertaining more than one million in 2024, we’re fired up to take this to the MLB level and visit some of the most beautiful and iconic ballparks, as well as watch the Party Animals become the headliner in four different cities.
“The 2024 Banana Ball World Tour will take our young sport to a higher level than ever before.”
Speeding up play
The 2024 tour begins at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa Bay on February 8 and concludes at the Miami Marlins’ LoanDepot Park on October 12. Following that, 2,500 fans will join the first ever Bananas cruise – Bananaland at Sea – alongside their favourite Banana Ball characters, players, dancers, performers, and mascots.
Savannah Bananas play their home games at the 4,000-capacity Grayson Stadium in Savannah, Georgia. Bananas games at Grayson Stadium have been sold out for eight straight years.
Banana ball is baseball but with nine rule changes, all with the intent of speeding up play. The game is scored with teams tallying points for innings won instead of runs scored.
Other rules include prohibiting mound visits, as well as stepping out of the batter’s box between pitches and bunting.
Perhaps the most popular rule is one where a batter is out if they hit a foul ball and a fan catches it.
Aside from the game, banana ball also features a number of hijinks, including dancing base coaches and umpires and hitters wielding flaming bats.