The Savannah Bananas: the greatest show in baseball

Jacob Toran
Staff Writer

Baseball is known as America’s favorite pastime. However, many Americans would disagree. With attention spans decreasing every day, and the lengthiness of the game, the sport could use a little more entertainment factor. Enter “Banana Ball.”

Banana Ball is a new type of baseball being played by the Savannah Bananas, a fairly new club out of Georgia that began as a collegiate summer baseball team. This team is not part of the MLB, or any league for that matter; think of them more as an exhibition team, providing a fast-paced, entertaining game for anyone who would like to watch.

Recently, the Bananas have taken the country by storm, selling out every stadium they visit, small and large. To understand why this is happening, we must first understand what Banana Ball actually is. 

Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas, is the mastermind behind the show. He wanted a baseball game that would hold fans’ attention while entertaining them as well.

“Why don’t we have dancing players, a banana band, a break-dancing coach, a senior citizen dance team, the Banana Nanas,” says Cole. “Think about all the things that are long and slow with baseball and try to make it entertaining.”

Cole decided to combine one of the most popular sports in the United States with his own entertaining twist. He created a show based on the style of some of his favorite entertainers.

“I’ve taken tons of inspiration from Walt Disney and P.T. Barnum, Cirque du Soleil, and ‘Saturday Night Live,’” says Cole. “What the greatest entertainers do is they put themselves in their fans’ shoes.”

Banana Ball’s main focus is on entertaining its fan base. At first glance, when tuning into one of their games, it may look like a regular baseball game. That is, until the players start dancing on the field.

“Whenever we score a run or somebody hits a double or somebody hits a home run, we’re ready to roll those [dances] out,” says Kyle Luigs, a pitcher for the Bananas. “We work very closely with our entertainment team as well as our creative team.”

The hard work that everybody on the team does to both play an actual baseball game and coordinate the dances really pays off. 

“Practice-wise, about half our practice looks the same as a normal baseball practice and then the other half is wildly different,” says the head coach of the Bananas, Tyler Gillum. “We got guys on stilts, we are practicing balancing bats, we’re juggling. We have a trampoline that stays on the field. Our guys are always working on acrobatics.”

Entertainment like this has never been seen before in baseball, and because of that and their outreach to social media, the Savannah Bananas have gotten tremendous attention. With their TikTok account racking up millions of views and news stations across the country reporting on them, almost everyone has heard of this team.

“Right now, we have two million people on our waitlist to get tickets, but we only have one million tickets available,” says Gillum.

With reaching more and more people by the minute, the players are excited to make an impact on as many fans as possible.

“My favorite part about [Banana Ball] is that it has an impact on the next generation of baseball players,” says Luigs. “I enjoy continuing to push that boundary of what can you do in front of a live audience that they’ve never seen before and that’s gonna be all the rave they wanna talk about long after the game’s played.”

With the addition of games at six major league ballparks this season, along with a Banana Ball cruise, Bananaland at Sea, in October, and the hopes of eventually taking the game overseas, Cole hopes to continue entertaining fans for years to come.

Millersville student fields the perfect internship

Taylor Campagna prepares for a busy night as a Phillies ball girl. PHOTO COURTESY OF TAYLOR CAMPAGNA

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

As a college student, it can be hard to find a job or internship that works with your school and extracurricular schedule. Luckily, Millersville student Taylor Campagna, found just what she was looking for as a Philadelphia Phillies ball girl. 

Although ball girls are typically seen as someone who sits on the side of the field and collects foul balls, Campagna explains that they are also very active members of the community. 

“A ball girl participates in over 100 community events, both at the ballpark and throughout the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware area,” says Campagna. “They also act as role models for younger softball players by hosting camps and clinics and teaching them about playing the sport of softball.”

Campagna got involved with the Phillies after attending a college night hosted by the team, an event she was encouraged to attend by Dr. Daniel Keefer, the chair of the Wellness and Sport Sciences department at Millersville.

“I’ve played sports my entire life,” says Campagna. “I’ve played softball since I was five, when it was considered t-ball. I’ve also been a Philadelphia sports fan since I was four. So, when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in sports, I felt that this was a great opportunity to kind of get my foot in the door and to get to know some of the individuals within the organization.”

What really sealed the deal for Campagna was the ability to use this opportunity as her internship for school.

“Once I found out it could be my internship, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m all for this.’ I think that’s what really drew me in, is it connected my love for sports and my love for Philadelphia sports with this new passion that I found in sports business and sports journalism,” shared Campagna. 

Campagna is a dual major in both sports business and sports journalism, a member of Millersville’s softball team, on the executive board for the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and an assistant to Ethan Halsey, the head of athletic communications at Millersville. 

“In the fall, I made a deal to myself that everything that I had work-wise with the Phillies and with Ethan was going to be a big priority for me because I knew that that is what’s going to help me get to the next step in my career,” Campagna explained. 

In order to balance all of her responsibilities, Campagna shared that using her planner to stay on top of everything has been a big key to her success, as well as prioritizing what is most important to her. 

“I would definitely say it’s a time commitment for sure. There’s over 80 games that happen at home. Not that I can work all of them, obviously, because I’m also a student, but there’s definitely been days where I’ve not felt my best or I had a rough day at work before or a rough week at school,” confessed Campagna. “The summer days are hot. They are long. They are sweaty. So it’s definitely understandable that this is an opportunity that not many people get. I really do try my hardest not to complain. But there’s definitely really hot nights or days or really cold nights during the postseason that get to you.”

Despite the challenges that come with battling the grueling temperatures of the summer or balancing a very full schedule, Campagna speaks fondly of her experiences as a ball girl, especially her experiences seeing the children at games.

“I would say my favorite part is seeing the kids’ reactions to when I meet them, when I give them a ball, when I’m teaching them at a clinic. Seeing the smile and excitement that they have in that moment, it’s, I can’t even describe it,” Campagna recalled fondly. “It just makes me so happy because I know I just made their entire day with that small little action of just saying hi or handing them a ball card or even getting to give them a ball. It makes their whole day, their week, their month. I understand as a kid how much that little moment could mean because it meant so much to me when it happened to me. So now that I can do that for someone else, it’s pretty full circle.”

Campagna noted that those moments, as well as the opportunity to have an internship in a field that she loves, make her excited to go to work every day. 

“I think that’s also just really cool because a lot of people come back from their internships and they’re like, ‘it was just like an internship’ where I’m like, ‘I want to go back. I can’t wait to be back,’” Campaga shared. “I love every second of it.”