KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When the Savannah Bananas came through Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas in 2022, it was one of the first times they had taken their brand of entertainment and baseball on the road at all.
A year later, they’ve drastically increased the number of teams they visit, reaching from Trenton and Staten Island to the east all the way to Kansas City and Milwaukee.
If you haven’t heard of them before, the Bananas are the Harlem Globetrotters of Baseball, putting on a show while they play teams from all over the county.
The major difference is that they became massively popular, mostly through social media videos of their on-field antics, right at the same time as Major League Baseball was trying to make its game more fun for fans.
The Bananas play what they call Banana Ball with nine rules that speed up the game and make it more fun.
That’s been Banans’ Owner Jesse Cole’s idea from when he first bought the team in the mid-2010’s and launched the traveling show that has come through Kansas City, Kansas twice.
“To see baseball played like this with all the crazy rules, it’s so much fun,” said Kansas City Monarchs CEO and Partner Mark McKee.
He says it’s hard to imagine that the new rules in Major League Baseball this year weren’t inspired on some level by the fun being had at Bananas’ games.
“I think they’ve paid attention to things like this,” McKee said. “They may not adopt all of the rules, a foul ball caught by a fan is probably not going to fly at the major league level but it flies here.”
Bananaland comes to KC! pic.twitter.com/qfzcI3ePvj— Kevin Barry (@KevinBarryTV) May 5, 2023
“This is about having fun,” said Jason Jenkins who was with his son Aiden. “If you’re not having fun, you should be doing something else and so these guys are the absolute epitome of having fun.”
Jenkins points out that the XFL is making the NFL rethink some of its long-time rules so if a similar process can make baseball better, he’s here for it.
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“Let it play out,” Jenkins said. “Let’s see what happens. I don’t see anyone getting on stilts anytime soon, but let’s see what happens.”
The Monarch’s season starts next week with their first home game the week after that.