Goin’ Bananas: How a Minor League Team Got More Followers Than the Yankees

About twenty uniformed Savannah Bananas players line up side-by-side on the field doing a kick-line dance.

Image credit: Christian Science Moniter

To hear some people tell it, the Savannah Bananas, a professional baseball team based in Savannah Georgia, are making baseball fun again (Gasp!!). They play by modified rules (“Banana Ball”), their games consistently sell out, and according to this July 2022 report by Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor staff writer, they have more social media followers than the New York Yankees. What’s up with that?

Read it here.


1. Jonsson and the CSMonitor state explicitly in a big yellow box that their purpose in publishing this report is to promote the joy that the Bananas generate. Do you think they achieved their purpose? Why or why not? Explain your reasoning. Newspapers don’t ordinarily state the purpose of an article so overtly. Do you think it was proper for them to do so? Why or why not? Would you like to see news outlets state their explicit purpose more often? Why or why not? 

2. For his report, Jonsson incorporates quotations from many sources, including, of course, the team owner and a few fans. In addition, however, he interviews several sports historians and a policy think tank fellow. How did the sports historians’ views contribute to Jonsson’s article as a whole? Why might Jonsson have included the ideas and statements of three historians and a policy professional, given that they all said pretty much the same things? Might his report have been stronger if he had focused on fewer historians? More? Should he have interviewed others, such as the city’s mayor, Bananas players, or managers of other teams? Explain your reasoning. 

3. LET’S TALK Given the growing fame and popularity of the Bananas, it seems likely that their techniques and flair for putting on an enjoyable show might spread to other cities. Would you like to see something like the Bananas in your town? Might you want to go to a game? Would you like to join the team, the band, or dance squad? What would such a team need to do in order to be an asset to the community at large? Would there be any drawbacks or downsides to having such a team in your town? What might they be? Talk with a few classmates and imagine what a Bananas-style team could do for your local community. Consider the drawbacks as well as the benefits. If you live in and around Savannah, you might want to discuss the pros and cons of the actual Savannah Bananas; in what ways do they make a positive contribution to the city? In what ways might they be disappointing? After your conversation, reflect on what you’ve heard and said. Do you have any new ideas or insights? 

4. AND NOW WRITE There’s no doubt that much (maybe all) of the Bananas’ success is because they create and celebrate silliness. And we humans do need some silliness in our lives; it provides relief from stress (don’t we all have plenty of that!), and it gives people an opportunity to connect with one another and with our shared humanness. Jonsson mentions several times that Bananas baseball echoes the game’s early years, and he quotes sports historian Rob Ruck asserting that what the Bananas do is “kind of a return to the past, which sounds like it would be a healthy antidote to what’s going on in the present.” What do you think about this framing? Are the solutions to our present (and future) to be found in the past? Were the early days of baseball really a better era for people in the United States? Which people? Is Jonsson looking in the wrong place to explain the wonderfulness of the Bananas? Write an essay addressing one or more of these questions; argue your position with evidence drawn from your own experience, observations, and anything else you think is relevant.

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