SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — More than 90 minutes before the first pitch, it’s already clear this isn’t just any ol’ baseball game.
The crowd queued up outside the main gate slowly begins to part, clearing the way for a pep band to guide the home team — adorned in bright yellow uniforms — through a rollicking, high-fiving gauntlet.
Once the players reach the concourse outside historic Grayson Stadium, they break into a hastily choreographed dance routine accompanied by the tune “Hey! Baby.”
Welcome to Banana Land, home to baseball’s most outrageous — and entertaining — team.
The Savannah Bananas.
When you’re done chuckling about that nickname, we’ll get to a more serious issue: This amateur team in the little-known Coastal Plain League could be at least part of the cure for what ails the national pastime.
“You guys ready to have some fun?” Bananas owner Jesse Cole, decked out in yellow from head to toe, asked a group of fans on their way into the ballpark for a recent game. “Enjoy the show.”
What a show it is!
There’s the Banana Baby, an infant who is presented to the crowd like Simba in the “The Lion King,” lifted toward the sky by a parent while the entire team kneels in reverence around home plate.
There’s the Banana ’Nanas, the senior citizen dance team.
There’s Maceo, a choreographer who doubles as the team’s breakdancing coach (his tortured convulsions in the first-base box to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” were a personal favorite).
There’s strutting, preening walks to the plate by the Savannah hitters, a breach of baseball etiquette that would draw an immediate beaning in the big leagues but is an accepted part of the show in Banana Land.
There’s the players strolling through the stands between almost every half-inning…