Savannah, GA – The Savannah Bananas are thrilled to announce that Tyler Gillum, five-year head coach of the Bananas collegiate team, two-time Petitt Cup Champion and two-time CPL Coach of the Year, has signed on to stay in Savannah as the year-round head coach of the Banana Ball World Tour team. Gillum will share head coaching duties with Eric Byrnes and Adam Virant.
“Tyler is a special person,” said Bananas owner Jesse Cole. “There are only a handful of coaches in the world like him that can connect with players and help them be at their best, both on the field and off the field. He knows how to recruit at a high level and build a winning organization. But most importantly, he truly understands how to build a team that puts the fans first with everything they do.”
Gillum will join the Bananas full time in January and help lead the recruiting efforts as well as the development of the players for Banana Ball. Eric Byrnes will remain a huge part of the organization and continue to coach with the Bananas. Based on his travel schedule and with his wife and three kids, he cannot commit to every weekend on the tour. But he will be heavily involved and play a huge role on Banana Ball game days.
“Byrnesy may be the most electric coach in the world and brings a level of energy that’s second to none,” Jesse said. “He helped take our pro team to the next level this past spring and made a huge impact on the Bananas. Our goal is that he can be with the team as much as possible on the tour and we will look to him to lead with every opportunity he is available.”
The dynamic duo becomes a terrific trio when you add in Adam “Viro” Virant who has been on both sides of the Banana Ball matchup. In 2021 he was the assistant coach for the Bananas on the One City World Tour and this past spring Viro was at the helm of the Party Animals for the Banana Ball World Tour. This past weekend Adam once again led the Party Animals against the Byrnes and Gillum led Bananas, but with Eric and Tyler having to return home to handle work outside of Bananaland for the next two weekends, Adam will once again suit up as the Nanners skipper, with Mike Vavasis taking over managing duties for the Party Animals.
Viro will take care of logistics and aid Bananas Coordinator of Baseball Operations, Berry Aldridge, on all things baseball ops. Adam deserves a good deal of credit for many of the dazzling trick plays that were seen this past weekend, as he pushed the guys over the past two weeks to get out of their comfort zone and figure out how they can gain the confidence needed to execute such incredible plays when it matters most: in front of sold out crowds and our ESPN audiences.
Virant and Gillum will continue to help the players hone their baseball and entertainment skills, while Byrnes will bring the nonstop energy, big league experience, and the party to every stop of the World Tour he can make it to.
For Gillum, this is the natural next step of his incredible Bananas journey.
“In 2017, I set a goal to have a positive impact on 1,000,000 people through baseball, education and exercise,” Tyler said. “In 2018, I became the head coach of the Savannah Bananas. These last 5 years have been amazing from sell-out crowds to back-to-back championships. But we are just getting started. Banana Ball is the next challenge. We will bring our crazy show and talented players around the country bringing fun and joy to everyone. This will be the most unique sporting event around the world. I am excited to join forces with Eric Byrnes and Adam Virant as we bring Banana Ball from coast to coast. I like to call us the three headed monster. Our main goal is to create ‘Never Forget Moments’ for Banana Nation. In 2023, we will build the most exciting, entertaining and talented roster of baseball players to travel the country to play Banana Ball. The future will be cruise ships, MLB stadiums and different countries. If you are a baseball player you won’t want to miss this opportunity of a lifetime. This will be a can’t miss event!”
Byrnes is beyond fired up to have Gillum and Virant bolstering the Bananas coaching staff.
“I look forward to continuing to help the Savannah Bananas put smiles on peoples faces while positively affecting the entire baseball world,” Eric said. “Our job as coaches is to ensure we are developing top level baseball players while keeping the entertainment element of the game at the forefront of everything the Bananas and Party Animals do on and off the field. Gillum and Viro are two quality baseball dudes that understand the complexity of Banana Ball and I am stoked to be working with them. And at the end of the game, when the tide rolls out, we will all figure out who’s been skinny dipping.”
Virant had been with the Bulldog Ball Club, New York City’s premier youth sports program, for eleven years before signing on to join the Bananas family full time.
“Nothing fires me up more than being able to contribute in bringing Banana Ball to the world,” Adam said. “I get to work everyday with driven, supportive and forward thinkers which gives me energy. The baseball is real and our players are unbelievably competitive and amazing people with a common goal to play the most dynamic and entertaining baseball ever seen. This allows me to flex my (proverbial) baseball muscles while injecting a heavy dose of comedy and creativity to the mix. Most important of all though is being able to contribute in bringing joy and smiles to our fans. I am all-in on showing the world a whole new baseball experience.”
Jesse is certain he has the best three guys he could ever find to lead the team going forward.
“We couldn’t be more proud to have these three coaches leading the Bananas,” Jesse said. “I’m confident that they will develop the best Banana Ball players in the world, who are also fans first with everything they do. With Gillum and Byrnes bringing top level development and energy and Viro being the glue to keep it all together, Bananas nation is in store for something truly special in the years to come.”
The 2023 Banana Ball World Tour schedule will be announced the first week of October. The Bananas will visit over 20 cities and the tour will run from February to September.