Written by Biko Skalla:
The Savannah Bananas have announced their roster for the 2024 Banana Ball World Tour. It is highlighted by 20 returning players from the 2023 tour, with captains Bill LeRoy and Kyle Luigs signing on for their seventh years as Bananas. The Nanners infield remains very much intact as they are bringing back “Bananaland’s Greatest Showman”, Jackson Olson, “The Glove Magician”, Ryan Cox, and “The Songbird of Our Generation”, Dalton Mauldin. That will be excellent news for the over two-million people between Tik Tok and Instagram who follow Jackson and for the over 750,000 fans who follow Ryan and Dalton on the two platforms.
At first base the Bananas bring back their two best hitters from the 2023 tour. Dan Oberst returns for his sixth season in Savannah. The 2022 World Tour batting average leader hit .364 this past year, the top mark on the team and second-best in all of Bananaland. Eric Jones Jr. will suit up for his third tour with the Bananas after blasting a season-best 12 home runs this past year.
There will be more competition in the infield than ever before, as former Washington Nationals minor leaguer Robert Anthony Cruz, better known as “Coach Rac” to his over 800,000 followers between Tik Tok and Instagram, has signed on. As has 2019 and 2020 collegiate Banana Gabe Howell, who holds the Nanners collegiate single-season home run record for the nine he blasted in 2019. Howell is coming off his third season in professional baseball where he swatted 17 dingers, stole 30 bases, and scored 100 runs across his 94 games played for the Glacier Range Riders in the Pioneer League.
There will be three familiar faces in the outfield with the return of “The Doctor”, DR Meadows and his patented backflip catches, Michael “Vitamin” Deeb and his bold barehanded fly ball snags, and “The Weigh-In Warrior”, Noah Bridges and his miraculous superman diving plays. They will be joined in the outfield by newcomers Reese Alexiades and Brandon Crosby. Reese was the MVP of the Pioneer League in 2023 as he paced all hitters with his 29 homers, 64 extra-base-hits, and 73 walks in 94 games played for the Ogden Raptors. Brandon also had a terrific season in the Pioneer League as he stole 29 bases, hit .308 and reached base at a .422 clip, doing most of his damage while playing for the Rocky Mountain Vibes.
There are plenty of powerful pitchers returning too, with lefties Ryan Kellogg and Zack Phillips, as well as right-handers Jared Donalson, DJ “The Invader”, Christian “Mr. Electriꓘ” Dearman, and two-way superstar Danny “Do-It-All” Hosley all signing on for the 2024 tour. They will be joined by four new hurlers to bolster the pitching staff. Noah Niznik is a crafty lefty coming off of a terrific final season at Southeast Missouri State last spring. Ethan Skujia is a flamethrowing righthander who baffled the Bananas last July in Rancho Cucamonga in a relief appearance for the Party Animals. “Skuj” (pronounced SKOOJ), finished last summer with the Staten Island FerryHawks in the Atlantic League. Andy Archer is another big righty who spent four years at Georgia Tech before finishing at the University of Hawaii in 2022. And Austin Krzminski is yet another hard throwing righty who spent the summer of 2017 as a Savannah Banana. Since his maiden voyage in Bananaland he has spent four years in Minor League Baseball playing in the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs organizations.
The roster is rounded out with four legendary Bananas entertainers. Dakota “Stilts” Albritton will be back for his fourth world tour, as will the fastest man in Bananaland, Malachi “FlashThaKid” Mitchell. “Bananaland’s Resident Rodeo Clown”, Mat Wolf will be bringing new trick pitches, trick plays, and entertaining at-bats along for his third tour and Alex “Ziggy” Ziegler will be bringing his mind boggling bat tricks and over 780,000 followers between Tik Tok and Instagram back for his third campaign as a Nanner as well.
Tyler Gillum and Adam Virant will return as the team’s fearless leaders, looking to avenge the 2023 tour defeat at the hands of the Party Animals.
“Our roster is packed with the most talented and entertaining Banana Ball players that fans have ever seen,” Gillum said. “First and foremost, the fans will be excited to see an amazing group of returners that have laid the foundation for this great sport. These guys have taken Banana Ball to the next level and have been training all winter to bring more entertainment and tricks than ever before. Next, we recruited all all over the country to find the next wave of phenomenal Banana Ballers. We had over 1,000 submissions from prospective players and invited 117 of them to four private workouts in either Daytona, Dallas, Phoenix, or Los Angeles. The new players you see added to our roster are the best of the very best. We have guys who throw 95-plus on the mound, have hit 25-plus home runs in indy ball, and have pulled off new trick plays that we had never seen before. We can’t wait to get the tour started and watch our returners and new players combine talents to create the greatest show in sports.”
The 2024 Banana Ball World Tour will have guest appearances and some crazy surprises in store. The Ticket Lottery is now closed but you can join the 2024 Ticket Wait List by heading to: https://bananaball.com/ticketwaitlist/