The Savannah Bananas are in a league of their own, literally: The team announced this week that it is leaving the Coastal Plain League in order to play nothing but “Banana Ball” — their wildly popular, no-holds-barred brand of baseball — both at home and on the road.

In a popular tradition before each home game, the Savannah Bananas designate one lucky infant as that day’s “Banana Baby” in a ceremony to the tune of “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King.” (Credit: Savannah Bananas)

“The Coastal Plain League has been a great partner over the last seven years,” team owner Jesse Cole said in announcing his decision to peel the Bananas away from the 14-team collegiate league. “They’ve helped us develop great players and even better people who have made an impact in our community. We are truly grateful of their support with this next step for the Bananas and Banana Ball.”

Up to this point, the Bananas were a mixed bunch, as they divided their time between two types of baseball: on one hand, traditional nine-inning games in the Coastal Plain League (where they have won the championship three times, including this year), and on the other hand, their wildly popular Banana Ball exhibition matchups, which feature odd rules and even odder on-field (and off-field) antics.

The Bananas will be in season next year from February through September. Some of those games will be right at home in the Hostess City of the South, but for others, the Bananas will split to more than 20 different cities.

They club hasn’t yet said what those cities are. However, earlier this year Cole told GPB News that he had big-league dreams for his team: “I see us playing all over the world. And I see us selling out major-league stadiums and going to different islands and playing places you never played before.”

The Bananas plan to release the schedule for their 2023 “World Tour” during the first week of October. This year’s tour saw the Bananas travel to five cities in the Southeast, as well as Kansas City.

The team’s massive online following — which, on TikTok, is larger than every MLB franchise’s — has helped catapult the club to a world renown usually reserved for World Series champions. At a Banana Ball home game earlier this year, Cole proudly proclaimed on the Grayson Stadium speakers that that night’s attendance included fans from more than 30 states and as far away as the Philippines.

“Walt Disney said, ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,’” Cole told GPB News. “And I think that’s what we’re trying to do right now.”

This story comes to Reporter Newspapers / Atlanta Intown through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Benjamin Payne | GPB

Benjamin Payne is the Savannah-based reporter for GPB, where he covers Coastal Georgia.