I f you like baseball and use social media, you’ve likely already encountered the Savannah Bananas. The team is something of a social-media darling, especially on TikTok – the Bananas’ more than 6m million followers on the app significantly outnumber those of every franchise in Major League Baseball (as well as every team in the NFL, NBA and NHL).
The factors driving the Bananas’ online success are obvious. In-game clips of players swinging flaming baseball bats, pitching from atop stilts, and performing choreographed dance routines are tailor-made for social media.
To reduce the team’s popularity solely to its viral antics, however, is dishonest. Even to this initially skeptical observer, the fun-loving atmosphere surrounding a Bananas game is inarguably infectious. “For the first time ever, I saw [no] fans on their phones during the game,” says pitcher Connor Higgins. “[Joining the Bananas] was a no-brainer.” When Higgins spoke to the Guardian, he had only been with the team for eight days. “I’ve never had so much love from fans. … I love how open people are, telling you their stories about how much the Bananas have meant to them.” This year, the Bananas are leaning into their unique interpretation of America’s pastime more than ever before, making it increasingly difficult to describe the team’s identity within professional baseball in just a single word or phrase.
For example, the Bananas are not a minor league team, and they never have been. From the franchise’s formation in 2016 until last year, the Bananas competed in the Coastal Plains League (CPL), a competitive collegiate summer league operating throughout Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.Read more on theguardian.com