Having heard about the Savanna Bananas but knowing much about the, I was eager to read this book when I became aware of it. It was just as good as I had hoped. Here is my review of the book by Bananas co-owner Jesse Cole.
“Banana Ball: The Unbelievably True Story of the Savanna Bananas ” by Jesse Cole
5 of 5 stars (excellent)
One of the biggest criticisms of baseball today is that it is no longer fun, either for the players or the fans. Enter the Savanna Bananas, a touring team that tours various ballparks with its opponents, the Party Animals. The Bananas are the result of much creativity and hard work by Jesse Cole and his wife Emily. How they got to this point, where the Bananas are a big hit both in person and on TikTok, is captured in this terrific book written by Jesse.
When Jesse realized that his dream career of playing baseball was not going to happen, he also saw how the fun was being sucked out of the game for both players and fans. Wanting to still have a career in the game, he took an unpaid internship for an independent team in North Carolina. Taking the lessons from that team’s owner and adding in his creativity, he and a woman with a similar job (who would marry Jesse) and drive came together to create the Bananas.
It should be noted that as soon as Jesse and Emily obtained the team and the historic stadium in which it would play, the Bananas were not touring but were in a summer league for teams of collegiate players. Jesse’s writing about his time in North Carolina, his relationship with Emily, and their shared vision of creating a team that would put the fun back in baseball is terrific. This is especially clear when describing some of crazy ideas and stunts of the team. Jesse also makes it clear that not everything must come from him or Emily - the player’s input is important as well. A great story about this is a player who suggested setting his bat on fire for a plate appearance. It became one of the most popular Bananas video on social media.
The book does not have much on-field action but it doesn’t need it - the stories about the struggles and then the huge victories for the Coles are riveting on their own. One more note about the games the Bananas currently play on their tour with the Party Animals - they are very competitive. The Party Animals are not the perpetual losers to the Bananas like the Washington Generals are for the Harlem Globetrotters- like the Bananas they are good baseball players as well as entertainers.
This review cannot properly describe the Coles, the teams or the entertainment they provide. Just pick up the book and the reader will see for themselves how good the story of the Savanna Bananas is.
I wish to thank Penguin Group Dutton for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.