Savannah Bananas travel team to hit the road to five cities on ‘World Tour’ in 2022

Video savannah bananas schedule 2022

The Savannah Bananas’ brand of a baseball circus traveled so well in 2021 despite pandemic protocols, the team has expanded its reach for 2022.

The Bananas announced Tuesday the schedule for its professional travel team for six cities, including two games in Savannah, next March and April.

After consistently selling out home games at Grayson Stadium, the franchise had devised a “World Tour ” in 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic scaled back those grand plans. Instead, the 2021 One City World Tour went to Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. With seating limited to 3,500 for social distancing, the game was sold out and a second game was added, and then sold out, last March 26-27.

The 2022 Banana Ball World Tour received thousands of nominations from fans in over 400 cities and 18 countries, the team reported. Those nominations were narrowed down to Chicago; Kansas City; Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama; Columbus, Georgia; Daytona Beach and West Palm Beach, Florida; Durham, N.C.; and Charleston, S.C., as the top-10 front-runners.

The Savannah Bananas Premier Team celebrates a victory over the Party Animals during the "One City World Tour" on March 27, 2021 at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

Members of the front office — including owner Jesse Cole, team president Jared Orton, and video and marketing staffers — visited the stadiums and met with local officials in government, tourism and business.

“We were blown away by the number of Bananas fans who nominated their cities. We never imagined we’d have so much support to take the Bananas show all over the country,” Cole said in a press release. “After listening to the fans and visiting with our front-runners, we’re thrilled to be able to come to these amazing cities and ballparks.”

The 2022 tour opens in Savannah at Grayson Stadium on Friday and Saturday, March 11-12. The team will then travel to Daytona Beach, Montgomery, West Palm Beach, Columbus and Birmingham.

Orton felt an almost emotional connection to Birmingham’s Rickwood Field, built in 1910 and known as the oldest ballpark in America.

“You walked in there and you almost felt like the ghost of Babe Ruth was going to walk around the corner and shake your hand,” Orton said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “That’s going to be one we really look forward to. Of course, all of the stadiums have their perks and their quirks and their character. There was something about Birmingham that really stood out to us.”

More:Savannah Bananas pitcher Joe Miller honored

There were some logistical issues with flying teams to Chicago or Kansas City, as they have traveled by bus. Orton didn’t rule out amending the schedule with another city.

“There might be something in the works for an extra city in the next week or so,” Orton said. “We’ve actually heard from some people just in the past couple of days before we narrowed down the top few. We might have one more up our sleeve if we could get it nailed down.”

A look at the road schedule

Daytona Beach, March 18

Jackie Robinson Ballpark is home to the Daytona Tortugas, a minor-league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The ballpark was built in 1914 and is famous for its namesake, Jackie Robinson, who played at the stadium in 1946 after recently signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Montgomery, March 25

Riverwalk Stadium has consistently won awards for its unique design which connects the ballpark to a historic railroad depot built on the site of a Civil War prison in Montgomery. The stadium is home to the Montgomery Biscuits, Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Party Animals team enters the Grayson Stadium playing field in the back of a large pickup truck prior to a game last March against the Savannah Bananas Premier Team.

West Palm Beach, April 1

The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is a state-of-the-art spring training facility for the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

Columbus, April 14

Golden Park was refurbished to host softball for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. However, like the original Municipal Stadium in Savannah, Golden Park was originally constructed on the site in 1926 and has played host to greats throughout baseball history.

Birmingham, April 16

Rickwood Field, “The Oldest Ballpark in America,” was built in 1910 based off the design of Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Rickwood Field famously hosted the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues of Professional Baseball featuring legendary Satchel Paige and others. Of the 263 players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, over 140 played at Rickwood Field.

Get to know Banana Ball

In addition to the cast of characters, dancers, performers, mascots and musicians, the Bananas are bringing their own twist on the traditional baseball format to the world tour. Banana Ball has rules to increase the pace of the game and create more action and drama. Rules include no bunting, no walks, a two-hour time limit, fans catching foul balls for outs, batters stealing first base, and a one-on-one tiebreaker showdown at the end of the game.

The Bananas Premier Team will face off against its rival, the Party Animals — not unlike the Harlem Globetrotters and regular foil the Washington Generals, except with a level playing field on talent. The rosters for both teams — about 20 spots apiece — will be filled through tryouts by independent players including former Bananas and possibly former professional minor leagues.

More honors:Savannah Bananas coach Tyler Gillum is the Coastal Plain League Coach of the Year

The Bananas have already signed two all-time Bananas, catcher Bill LeRoy and pitcher Kyle Luigs (a Richmond Hill High School graduate), who each played four seasons for the summer collegiate league team in the Coastal Plain League.

They were standouts in the field, and stand out basically anywhere in their bright Banana-yellow uniforms.

“We were on the beach in West Palm Beach and we’re trying to film this quick promo,” Orton recalled, “and people are coming up to Bill and Kyle, trying to take pictures with them. Two players in yellow uniforms on the beach. It’s a different sight.”

When the Savannah Bananas are not on tour, their college counterparts have played home games in front of sold-out crowds of 4,000-plus at Grayson Stadium for five straight years.

More:City of Savannah COVID-19 restrictions lead Bananas to cancel two games

The baseball goes hand-in-hand with family friendly entertainment in and around the stadium before, during and after the games. The Bananas have played in kilts, their first base coach is a professional dancer, and there are skits and interactions with fans during and between innings.

To see the 2022 Banana Ball World Tour, go to and join the ticket priority list or to get information on outings for their group, organization or business.

Nathan Dominitz is the Sports Content Editor of the Savannah Morning News and Email him at Twitter: @NathanDominitz

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