Late Bloomer: Bryson’s Under-the-Radar Journey to Becoming the Bananas 2021 Home Run King

Written by Biko Skalla:


Nobody throughout the Bananas 2021 CPL Championship run was ever hotter than Bryson Bloomer. On the field, the infielder turned utility man by necessity would come to be known for his towering blasts, which he often launched into the night when his team needed it most. Online, he would be known for goofy postgame interviews and incredibly successful videos recorded while walking up to the plate for Tik Tok, from which he amassed more than 3 million views on two separate occasions. While the viral love was an unexpected bonus of playing in Savannah, the dominance in between the lines was a product nearly two decades of fierce dedication to his craft.


Bryson grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, playing baseball from a young age. His father Todd had played four years of college football at East Tennessee State University, and had aspirations of Bryson following the same path.

“I had a friend who was a quarterback in college running Bryson through all kinds of drills so he would be good at it,” Todd told me.

When he was nine, Bryson started playing flag football. As you could expect, he was quite good. Probably a little more surprising when you look at the 6’1″, 220 pound, incredibly fit ballplayer he is today, is that he was really undersized and pretty round around the edges back then.

“I was always one of the smallest guys on any team I played on until like 10th, 11th grade,” Bryson said.

“Yeah, he was a little pudgy kid,” his dad said, laughing. “When he was ten he was going down on a kickoff and a kid circled back around and blindsided him and knocked him like five yards. I ran over to him and he was balling and I was like, ‘You alright?’ And he shook it off and said he was okay but that changed my mind about football being his future. From that point on we were focusing on baseball.”

The big hit on Bryson made Todd reflect on the beating that his own body took throughout his career.

“I love football better than life,” Todd told me. “I just couldn’t make him go through what I went through. Ya know, getting your head banged around, my knees and shoulders and everything that goes along with it. And he just never grew.”

Baseball was Bryson’s true love, and he was more than happy to put all his effort into America’s Pastime. Todd had been an assistant coach on all of Bryson’s teams growing up, and even though football wasn’t going to be in the cards, the football mentality would always be there.

“In football we did two-a-days so from the time Bryson started playing baseball, when he was about four or five years old, we were doing two-a-days in the summer: batting practice in the morning and evening. I’ve probably thrown more than a million pitches to him,” Todd said, chuckling. “So once football was done, we were playing year round baseball. If we weren’t hunting or fishing, which we did plenty of, we were playing baseball.”

Never the most gifted athlete on teams growing up, Bryson made his mark on the diamond with consistency.

“He played the game right,” Todd told me. “He didn’t light it up statistically, but he was a great situational hitter, made all the plays he needed to in the field, and was always at least a top one, two, three, or four player on every team because of that.”

The big growth spirt finally came between 10th and 11th grade, when he shot up over half a foot. By the time he was a senior his body had taken a 180 from what he had looked like for the first 15 or so years of life.

“Being a small, chubby kid, baseball had always drawn me in because anybody could thrive playing it. Once I was a normal sized person I wished could try a couple other sports too but it was too late for that,” Bryson said, laughing.

Even though his body had finally caught up to the talent when he was a senior, there was still radio silence from the college baseball world.

“It was disheartening because he had put in so much work for so many years and finally he had the look of a ballplayer to go along with the skill,” Todd told me. “We got down to the bitter end there and there were just no offers.”

That is until July of 2017, over a month after graduating high school, when he played a travel game in front of some Lincoln Trail College coaches. His play earned him and his best friend a visit to the campus in Robinson, Illinois.

“I was just excited because someone was interested in him,” Todd said. “Obviously as his dad and lifelong batting practice pitcher I saw great potential in him and was disappointed others didn’t too.”

Although he hadn’t thrown over a million pitches to Bryson, Lincoln Trail head coach Kevin Bowers certainly saw potential in him too.

“He was one of those kids who didn’t start growing facial hair until he was a sophomore in college,” Bowers said with a chuckle. “He was skinny as heck but he had great skills and you could tell he was a grinder.”

Before he knew it, Bryson was in bustling Robinson, Illinois, “The town that never sleeps,” as they call it.

“It’s a one stoplight town with a college, a prison, and an oil plant,” Bryson said. “When the wind blew down from the prison we could hear the voices from the yard.”

Okay, so it turns out they do sleep in Robinson. But Bryson didn’t go there for the nightlife. He went to play baseball, and he proved he could more than hang at the next level. He hit .355 with 24 RBI and 22 runs scored in 33 games as a freshman, all to the absolute delight of his father.

“That was so gratifying for me as a dad to see all his hard work paying off,” Todd told me. “I was pretty hard on Bryson about getting his work in and making it work. I always said to him you can’t go back. Whatever you do, you gotta do it now, cause you can’t get to my age and say you wish I would have done this or that.” 

Unfortunately for Bryson, even with his sterling numbers, once again recruitment to the next level wasn’t at the height those around him thought it should be. His head coach called up an old friend, Dan Skirka, who was taking over the Murray State baseball program.

“At the time I think they really needed shortstop, and I told him Bryson could play there but he’s really more of a true third baseman,” Bowers remembered. “But I also told him he couldn’t miss out on Bryson because of a position thing. The kid, the work ethic, and the bat is really special and it’s the exact person you want on your team.”

It was enough to get Skirka in the stands, but unfortunately Bryson had a slow fall and then scuffled out of the gate in his second spring too. He would turn it around a few weeks into the season, and with a full endorsement of everything Bryson was off the field, Skirka had finally seen the can’t miss player on the field too.

“He wasn’t very good the first couple times I saw him,” Skirka told me, chuckling. “But I could tell something was there, and we had talked  plenty so I knew everything was a fit off the field. When we saw him again spring of 2019 we liked him a lot more, gave him the offer, and we got him which was exciting of course.”

At this point, Bryson was much more of the man you saw playing for the Bananas than ever before in his life. Over the summer after his freshman season he had packed on about 20 pounds of muscle. Once his future was sealed, he would put together another terrific season at the plate for the Statesman, hitting .331 with 43 RBI and 44 runs scored, as well as hitting his first 5 collegiate home runs over 48 games played.

“That little wry smile of his, I saw that for two damn years,” Bowers said. “It was two great years. He worked his butt off like none other. He fit exactly what we wanted to do as a program. He showed up every day with the lunch pale and was ready to go to work. He was just about as consistent as they come, and he never let a mistake on one side of the ball affect him on the other. Just never got too high or too low. The harder you threw it, I think his mindset was the farther the ball was gonna go. And he brought a quiet confidence, and swagger to our group.”

Bryson shipped about four hours west to the other side of Kentucky to play for the Paducah Chiefs in the Ohio Valley League for the next summer. Wielding a wood bat in games for the first time in his collegiate career didn’t slow him down at all, as he hit .368 with a .456 OBP, 17 RBI’s, and 23 runs scored in just 17 games played. Another league conquered, but now he was leveling up again to the Ohio Valley Conference.

His first 14 at-bats in the following spring at Murray State did not go as planned. But in at-bat number 15 he got his first hit, which heated him up at the plate just in time for him to get a pretty serious thumb injury. It was enough to keep him out of all batting practice, but it wasn’t enough to keep him out of the games.

“I was just trying to do what I could do to help us win,” Bryson told me. “I didn’t have all my power so I was throwing the barrel at the ball and hoping for clean contact.”

The necessary adjustment just to be able to play produced 12 straight hits. Even with the banged up thumb there was a home run and a double mixed in, along with 10 singles. Little did he know, he was two hits away from the NCAA record.

“Nobody told me or else I would have been looking for a little dinky hit,” Bryson said laughing. “I was trying to drive the ball and got fooled on an outside changeup and popped up. I got into the dugout and everyone was like, ‘Oh man just a couple hits shy,’ and I was like ‘Well somebody could have told me!'”

Although the history books didn’t feel his wrath, he continued to torture opponents until the season was suddenly cancelled 17 games in due to COVID-19. He ended his first spring at Murray State on a 12-game hitting streak and had put up video game numbers over his 16 game season. He hit .429 with a .468 OBP, while driving in 10 and scoring 13 runs.

“The sad, sad, sad thing about that is he was on track for a possibly legendary season and then COVID comes and ends it,” Todd said. “Who knows what would have happened if he got to finish that season. But there was also nothing you could do about it, so he just had to get back to work.”

With summer leagues shutting down left and right, Bryson made the safe decision to workout at home over the extended break. He made a home gym and got after it, packing on more muscle before returning to Murray.

His second season for the Racers wasn’t as historic as the shortened season before it, but he still put up great numbers. For the first time in his college career he hit under .300, although just barely, registering a .297 batting average. He blasted a career high 10 long balls, and drove in 46 while scoring 49 runs in 56 games played. There was a little chatter about possibly playing in the Cape, but nothing was set in stone and there was another offer that was both firm and quite tempting.

Racers’ pitching coach Tanner Gordon had told Bananas pitching coach Corey Pye that he had a phenomenal player available.

“Tanner really liked him,” Bananas head coach Tyler Gillum told me. “Plus he had the 12 consecutive hits in 12 at-bats. The second thing is he’s a junior college guy and they’re tough. He hit in the middle of the order with power and Tanner said he’s their hardest working kid. That basically meant he fit everything we look for when it comes to Bananas players.”

It turned out Bryson had been hearing about the Bananas since his freshman year at Lincoln Trail. After having a teammate back then who was dying to dawn the yellow and white, Bryson had kept track of the Nanners on social media, and had grown more and more interested the more he saw. When his coaches approached him about possibly playing in Savannah, he was all in.

Bryson couldn’t get to Southeast Georgia for the start of the summer, as Murray State had a valiant run in the OVC Conference Tournament. After three straight one-run games, (two wins, one loss), to start the tournament, they needed to take down Southeast Missouri twice in the championship to win it all. They took the first game 10-1 and then dropped the next by the same score, falling one win away from moving on.

After the tough defeat, the journey to Savannah took Bryson about 11 hours because of traffic. After a full day of driving he was excited to meet his new teammates and experience the show in Grayson Stadium for the first time.

“I’ll never forget it because I get there at like 5:00 o’clock, and before I can meet everyone and get my stuff together, I hear Bill yell, ‘Everybody get dressed in 20 minutes.’ I come to find out I’m doing the Hey Baby within a half hour of being there. I’m like, ‘holy cow what did I get myself into?’ I’m not the kind of person that just jumps into stuff like that, doing some dance I don’t know at all in front of like a thousand people, an hour and a half before my first game.”

But he did do it, and he bought in and threw himself into the shenanigans from the jump. It also helped that he was joining a team off to the best start in franchise history.

“I couldn’t believe how good and how loose the team was playing when I got there,” Bryson recollected. “I saw the seventh straight win that first night. I was coming in just hoping to help this team win, but also I was like, ‘Man do they even need me?’ It was really fun though. Once I got there I got the feeling of why yawl were undefeated. Electric pitching, really good hitting, making the plays in the field, and having a blast playing the game. I was all in.”

Bryson was a huge addition to the team from the jump. He was lining doubles all over the field and although he started at third base, he would make his way around to every spot in the infield rather quickly.

“I played third every game at Murray State and all of my freshman year of JUCO,” Bryson said. “I told Gillum I can play 3rd but I wouldn’t mind to play everywhere in the infield, and I would really love to play some short, which I had done a little my sophomore year. I wanted a break from 3rd. I had some issues there towards the end of my spring season. I was taking ground balls one day, took 4 or 5 at short and the next night I was playing there.”

While Bryson was playing multiple positions and hitting quite well, he was also producing off the field. His play earned him multiple postgame interviews, which he then knocked out of the park even though doing one while on a moving pedicab and the next whispering on second base…

If Bryson and I could have it our way, everyone in the world would get to see the hilarity that was Alex Marinelli using every tool he had except his voice to try and stop the kid from drumming. But he was our cameraman, so that’s just life.

Anyhow, although our ASMR interview was a cult favorite among the many Ripe Rundowns from the summer, Bryson was achieving mainstream success on Tik Tok. He was the star of back-to-back Toks that each compiled over 3 million views a pop. Letting folks choose his walkup song and then talking to them about their choice as he strolled up to the dish captivated Bananas fans all over the world…


Reply to @bean.god y’all heard him…drop your hypest song picks for Bryson’s next walk up selection #savannahbananas #baseballboys #fypシ #youchoose



Reply to @owen.woulf WE 👏 HEARD 👏 Y’ALL 👏 #diamondintherough #baseballboys #WelcomeBack #savannahbananas #fypシ #bananas #youchoose


“I was just trynna find what I could do for the team. I’m not a Nick Clarno who’s gonna create content just by being a maniac, and I mean that as the highest compliment,” Bryson said, laughing. “Alex came to me with the walkup Tik Tok idea though and I have no problem talking in front of a camera. Those kind of blew up and I was amazed by it, I mean it was so simple. But I really enjoyed doing the fake press conference with Gillum and everything even more, because that was just us messing with each other really.”

Although it didn’t rake in the millions of eyeballs like his Tik Toks, here’s a press conference for the people where Bryson’s acting ability really shines…

The funny thing is, just two days before his first megahit of a Tik Tok went out to the world, Bryson entered a zone on the field that few have experienced in life. All summer he had been toying with his swing, trying to find the perfect combination to harness the power that his dad has seen in him for years. And he most definitely found it, on July 22nd against the Spartanburgers. If you did your homework, you watched his whispering Ripe Rundown above, which detailed the monstrous game he had. 4-5, with two home runs and a double, all while driving in 5 and scoring 3 times himself. Here are both his blasts from the night…

Pretty darn good night. He even ended it with the run-rule, walk-off single. The Bananas then took to the road to take on the Blowfish the next night, and by golly if Bryson didn’t do it again…

I apologize for having to just watch me jerk around in excitement instead of being able to see the shot. That’s life on the road baby.

Fast forward to the top of the 9th inning now. The Bananas are losng 7-6 and down to their final out, with Danny Oberst, the tying run on first base. Que me losing my mind…

This was where the man became the legend. His fourth home run in two days, to give the guys the lead when one more out meant the ballgame. Here’s how it all happened, from the horse’s mouth.

“The night before I truly felt like amazing at the plate. It was Macon and their pitching wasn’t as good at the end of the year and we were just kind of beating the crap out of them at that point. The next night was more of what I like looking back on. My first at-bat I K’d and I was like, ‘Okay, gotta go back to what was working.’ I was just looking for a good at-bat after that and got a hanging curve and hit it out. But then I struck out my next two at-bats and I remember feeling like I was going back to what I had been doing wrong previously. I really wasn’t having a great day, we were under the lights, and their last dude had a good fastball and slider. Dan was on first and I remember thinking, ‘If I try to do too much he’s gonna get me with his slider and if I miss the fastball I’m gonna be in a hole.’ I wasn’t thinking about their short fence in right, but I was looking for an outside fastball and and was trying to put it in a gap. He threw the fastball but up in the zone and when I hit it I was like, ‘Damn that’s probably got a chance.’ That felt so good cause it was exactly what I wanted to do, and I got a better result than I expected. That kind of validated the changes I had made in my swing and I felt like I had really found what was right for me.”

He stayed red hot over the last six games of the regular season, coming up with another signature moment of the season in the Nanners’ final home game. Once again finding himself at the plate with the guys’ down to their final out, Bryson did the darn thing again…

Cracked what would be a team-high sixth home run on the summer.

Saved NIL night.

Set up the franchise player for a walk-off in his final regular season home game.

All in a day’s work.

The Bananas would storm into the playoffs with the best record in the Coastal Plain League and home field advantage for both rounds. Even though Bryson had spent most of the regular season at any of the four infield spots, Gillum trusted him to be able to hold down the fort anywhere in the outfield during the playoffs.

“He’s an athletic kid and a competitor so I knew he was never scared to hop into a new position,” Gillum said. “It just so happened that to put our best lineup together meant him playing the outfield so we could have our hottest hitters one through nine.”

“I fell in love with that postseason roll,” Bryson told me. “That was some of the most fun I had, knowing I just had to hit when I came to the field and I may be out in the outfield or I may just be DH-ing, but I was there to hit either way.”

Unfortunately, the best offense in the league was blanked at home 4-0 to start the playoffs. But Bryson helped the Bananas stave off elimination in Game 2 with a huge 2-out RBI single in the 7th inning that set up Eduardo Malinowski’s dagger of a 3-run shot which made it 7-0 Savannah at the time.

He was right in the middle of the 10-0 drubbing the next night in Game 3 as well, earning the Bananas a battle with the two-time defending champion Morehead City Marlins for the championship.

Game 1 was on the road, and would pose the toughest test of the Nanners all season long. The Marlins faithful were by far the fiercest group of fans the Bananas encountered throughout the summer, and they were invigorated by a 4-0 Morehead City lead going into the 6th inning.

A Ty Jackson single and Livan Reinoso triple got the Bananas their first hit, and then their first run of the championship. Bryson nearly blasted the ball out of Big Rock Stadium, but had to settle for a towering sac fly to bring in Livan. In the 7th, Livan doubled home Bill LeRoy and Jesse Sherill to tie the game, and once again Bryson sent a ball deep enough for a sac fly, as Ty scampered home and all of a sudden the Bananas had their first lead.

They would hold on for the come-from-behind, 5-4 victory, and headed back to Savannah with two shots at the Petitt Cup. This time the Nanners were the one to blow a late lead. The Marlins used a 2-run game tying homer in the 6th, and then another 2-run shot and a solo bomb in the 7th to cement a 5-3 win for the visitors.

“I’ll never forget the speech from Gillum after the loss at home, which was at the end of an emotional day, you know with losing at home, Paula Deen being there, benches clearing, everyone was kind of losing their minds for the first time I had seen,” Bryson said. “We were really a collected team, we did our chirping for sure, but they had gotten to us like no team had. That speech for me, that was exactly what needed to be said. That was the reason we won it all. People were crying and stuff in the locker room, it was crazy.”

Every player on the team that I’ve talked to immediately recalls the postgame speech that Gillum gave them. That was one of three immense impacts that the coaches had on that final championship game. The other two: allowing Joe Miller to unfortunately throw one too many pitches in Game 2 of the Divisional Championship to be able to pitch in the finale, and giving Drew Yniesta his first start of the postseason.

Drew was in his second summer with the Nanners and had just gone through the first subpar baseball season of his life. Two of his brightest moments though had been shared with Bryson. Both of Drew’s home runs had come in games where Bryson had already homered.

“Drew and I always hit together, were going to the gym together, we were locker buddies,” Bryson said. “I hung out with him more than anyone else on the team. I kept telling him to stay ready. We had the thing when I hit one and then he would hit one. He would look at me and say, ‘If you go I go,’ and we would laugh.”

The story has been told many times now, but Drew’s first swing of the playoffs gave the Bananas an incredibly important Game 3 lead…

“I was on 3rd when he hit his homer,” Bryson remembered. “I had a great view of it, went back go tag, and then said, ‘Holy s**t!’ I couldn’t contain my excitement. I think he said something after to me in the dugout like, ‘I went first this time, now you go.'”

Bryson was more than up to task…

The swing that secured the championship. One last towering blast from the Bananas home run king.

“I’ve always been a fastball hitter but this summer more than any time in my career I hit hanging breaking balls,” Bryson said. “I wasn’t looking curve but I remember telling myself, ‘We have a lead , two outs, runners on, we don’t need a homer.’ I was hunting fastball, but I just saw the spin and I think it just pays to be hot cause I couldn’t believe how good I hit the ball.”

Powered by Drew and Bryson’s three-run shots, the Bananas drubbed the Marlins 13-3 to win their first CPL Championship since the inaugural season in 2016.

“It was an amazing moment,” Bryson told me, “just to be surrounded by the older guys who it was their last collegiate level game, Bill, Kyle, Dan, and Dearman, that was special. And to get to win it at home in front of our unbelievable fans. That was some of the most joy I’ve felt in my life. 50 games was a long ride, and we had literally built up to that moment and nobody would have been satisfied with any other outcome. I remember striking out on three pitches in the bottom of the 8th and I was so pumped to get back in the dugout cause we were just one step closer to winning it all.”

It was the first championship in Tyler Gillum’s four-year tenure managing the Bananas, and he more than recognized the role Bryson played in securing the Petitt Cup.

“He was huge for us, arguably our best offensive player and he played like 7 different positions,” Gillum said. “He’s a worker, always lifting before he came to the field and was always doing his early work once he got there. His process was really good, and I think that allowed him to be so successful on the field. Because he works so diligently he has the ability to slow the game down in the biggest moments. All of those results come from his work ethic and being confident in-game because 0f everything he’s done to prepare for it. I never saw him get sped up, and I think that’s one of the most important things about him.”

Bryson would make 1st-Team All-CPL with a .333 AVG, .438 OBP, 32 RBI’s, 28 runs scored, as well as 10 doubles and 6 home runs which were both regular season team highs. His 6 RBI’s in the playoffs were tied with Eduardo Malinowski for second most in the playoffs overall.

The incredible personal success for his son combined with winning the CPL Championship with his team was quite a nice combination for Todd.

It was an indescribable feeling getting to see him and his teammates do that,” Todd told me. “It was just an amazing experience seeing him come in and bond with these guys like he did. He loved all those guys, he told me that during the season. The team melded so well. Being with a group like the Bananas that care so much about baseball and wanna take care of the kids was awesome. All of it came together down there for him and it was very satisfying and gratifying to watch him have so much success with them.”

His former coach at Lincoln Trail and his head coach at Murray State both loved what they saw from Bryson’s summer in Savannah too.

“Yawl are bringing him out of his shell,” Bowers said, chuckling. “He was having fun with stuff and it was cool getting to see a goofier side of him come out in Savannah. He’s definitely one of the guys who’s left a real lasting impression on me, just the way he carried himself every day. He’s a grab a hunk of ham and try to help the club win however you can kind of kid. He’s not afraid of any moments, and we’d seen some big home runs from him at Lincoln too. He kind of set a tone with our guys with some homers against the best team in the league like, excuse my language, but he brings a, ‘F**k these guys we can play with them,’ type attitude that is really contagious.” 

“We weren’t surprised at all,” Skirka said. “He’s had a lot of big moments for us and we expect him to do that when he’s in a big spot. But we were so happy for him that he got to win a championship and kind of be that guy down the stretch for the Bananas. Those are experiences he’ll have for the rest of his life, but we’re thrilled to have him back in Murray where he’s one of our captain’s for the second straight year.”

Back to business as usual. Bryson has this one last year of eligibility before he moves on and tries to play the game professionally. He’s excited for the opportunity to go after the dream he’s been working for his whole life, but he also sees one more pitstop beforehand.

“I already told Gillum I’m coming back,” Bryson said with a grin.

Get Up To Date Game Info

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact