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'Greatest Show in Sports' slides into West Palm Beach

P.T. Barnum’s circus inspiration for Banana Ball
Posted at 7:54 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 20:21:54-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Fans refer to them as the Globetrotters of baseball but they call themselves the Savanah Bananas. The baseball team calls their performances shows, not games. They have two events this weekend at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

It’s a ”three-ring circus” that is selling out stadiums across the country.

When you hear there's a baseball team with the name Savanah Bananas, it's hard not to giggle just a little.

“We realize there's a big opportunity with baseball to make it fun,” said Savanah Bananas owner Jesse Cole.

It's a faster-paced, more entertaining game, “Baseball is still too long, too slow, too boring,” said Cole.

“[The games are] a circus with a baseball game in the background. You are never bored,” said Tim Leary, morning host on New Country 103.1.

“[There are] tons of performers, break dancing coaches, dancing umpires, a male cheerleading team a pep band. It's all part of the Savannah Bananas,” touted Cole.

Leary used to work on-air at a radio station in the team's hometown in Georgia. He said the Savanah Bananas was an instant hit.

“Actually, it actually caught wildfire. They took over this historic Stadium in Savannah. What was otherwise a dead ballpark all of a sudden became thriving with baseball fans who wanted to see this show on top of it,” said Leary.

Now on the air in West Palm at New Country 103.1 Leary is excited to see what's next in the batter's box as they play this weekend at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

This morning during a radio interview he asked Cole, “They say you're the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball. Now, having known you from the start, how do you feel about this analogy?”

“I take it as a compliment. The only big difference is, you know, our games are not rigged, they're not scripted. You never know who's gonna win,” said Cole.

Jesse Cole is the vividly yellow-dressed host of each show and is most certainly the ring leader.

“ I read every book on PT Barnum and said you know, we're going to put on a show every day and I might as well be dressed up as a showman,” said Cole

“ On his wall hangs a giant portrait of PT Barnum who is his hero,” recounts Leary.

Cole’s big takeaway from PT Barnum?

“ He said without promotion, something terrible happens nothing,” said Cole

Nothing is NOT how you'd describe the Savanah Bananas.

“He just kept adding on,” said Leary.

At each game, his traveling team of 110 adds five new things to the show.

“ Here in West Palm we're going to do five to 10 things I've never happened on a baseball field before,” said Cole

So what's attracting fans? A few modernized rules and a lot of random fun in a baseball game called banana ball.

“If fans catch a foul ball... It's an out. We're having batters steel first. We're doing two-hour time games. We're having players on stilts. We're having the dancing umpires. We're doing things that haven't been done before because I think baseball needs it,” said Cole.

So if Jesse can disrupt and revive baseball what about golf next?

“ Haha, we're gonna stay focused on baseball,” said Cole.

Friday’s game is sold out, but because of changes to the spring training schedule, the only show not sold out on their “world” tour is Saturday afternoon.