SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah Bananas announced Wednesday that they intend to exclusively play their special brand of baseball, Banana Ball, starting with the 2023 season.
Up until this point, the Bananas had mixed their schedule between a spring exhibition season, where they largely played under their special Banana Ball rules, and a summer season in the Coastal Plain League that was mostly made up of conventional baseball games using college athletes.
Savannah will now leave the Coastal Plain League as part of the change to become a fully independent baseball team.
“The Coastal Plain League has been a great partner over the last seven years,” said Bananas owner Jesse Cole in a press release. “They’ve helped us develop great players and even better people who have made an impact in our community. We are truly grateful of their support with this next step for the Bananas and Banana Ball.”
Banana Ball describes a special set of rules under which the Savannah Bananas play their exhibition games. These rules include a prohibition on bunting, a two-hour time limit and the possibility for fans to catch foul balls for outs, among other things.
The change will allow Savannah to schedule more games both in the city and in other locations. Savannah will release its 2023 World Tour Schedule in October; the tour itself will start in February and run through October.
Savannah’s roster will now consist of professional players, including players formerly in the MLB, instead of college athletes. They will play games against the Party Animals as well as other independent teams around the country.
Bananas team president Jared Orton said that fan reaction to the new format necessitated the change.
“For the past seven seasons, even with sold out crowds and non-stop promotions and entertainment, we watched as fans still left our games early,” Orton said in a release. “With Banana Ball, we saw that 98 percent of the fans stayed until the end of the game. This was groundbreaking for the game of baseball.”
Savannah had been part of the Coastal Plain League since its inception in 2016. They won the league championship three times, with the most recent one coming just weeks ago.