Written by Biko Skalla:
Two weeks ago there had never been a Banana Ball game played in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, or Maine. It is mind boggling how much the world can change in a mere fortnight. It is my honor to be charged with the task of compiling the greatest moments from this momentous chapter of Banana Ball history and putting them all in this one place for your viewing pleasure. We’ve got A LOT to get to so enough rambling from the author already, let’s see what happened when the young sport I love so dearly finally made its way up towards my neck of the woods.
Trenton Thunder Ballpark in Trenton, New Jersey: 2 Hours & 35 Minutes from Saugerties, New York
So close yet so far away from home. Well actually Trenton Thunder Ballpark is about an hour from my Jersey City apartment so I did sleep in my own bed but making it up to the farm wasn’t in the cards here.
When it came to the game against the Thunder who play in the MLB Draft League, it was the challenger who struck first as the Thunder won the first inning. The Nanners would take the second and third to grab a one-point lead that quickly evaporated with the Thunder jumping back out in front by winning the fifth and sixth innings. The Bananas evened it back up with a seventh-inning victory and after a scoreless eighth we went to the ninth locked at three points apiece. Zack Phillips only needed nine pitches to toss a 1-2-3 top of the inning with the help of the fans who tied a Banana Ball record by catching their third foul ball of the night (all three went against their hometown Thunder). Ryan Cox led off the bottom of the inning with a single and then Bill LeRoy had one of the most intricate treks to home plate ever…
The Bill LeRoy Cometh
Bill then worked a 2-1 advantage in his count and called game…
One more fun note on this: It was nearly a carbon copy of Bill’s walk-off on July 25th in San Jose, California, when he also brought home Coxy from first on a game-winning double.
SIUH Community Park in Staten Island, New York: 2 Hours & 19 Minutes from Saugerties, New York
Funny how you can drive over an hour northeast from Trenton seemingly straight towards Saugerties but only actually get 16 minutes closer to my hometown. That’s the confounding mystique of Staten Island for ya.
The first ever Banana Ball battle in the Empire State would be against the Staten Island Ferry Hawks of the Atlantic League. After two scoreless frames the Ferry Hawks would plate the first run of the game on the most bizarre home run you’ll probably ever see…
The Most Insane At-Bat in Banana Ball History?!
Who had Mikey Edelman as the hitter who would have the craziest at-bat of the season on their 2023 Banana Ball World Tour Loved by Zappos Bingo Card? Yeah, me neither. First, please feast your eyes on the second pitch of the at-bat…
Awesome 3-2-2 that Kyle Luigs wields to get strike one. He used a crisp slider out of the zone that Edelman chased for strike two. Then the six-year Banana walked back to second base to attempt a 120-foot strikeout. That’s not what happened…
I mean come on now! That’s the first time we’ve even seen a player get a hit on a Cowboy Kyle 120-foot pitch!! The Ferry Hawks would rally for two more runs in the top of the third and held the Nanners to just two in the bottom half to claim the first point of the night.
An inning later the Bananas used to double-steal from LeRoy who grabbed second and Cox who swiped home to even the game up.
In the top of the fifth Kyle realized he needed to turn to another one of his legendary tricks if he wanted to get revenge on Edelman. So with the Statue of Liberty looking on from the New York Harbor, Kyle did his best Lady Liberty impersonation…
Fireball Round 2: Electric Boogaloo
What an eventful Banana Ball debut for Mikey Edelman!
In the next frame Danny Hosley tallied his tour-leading 25th walk-off with a single that plated Dan Oberst to end the sixth and put the Bananas ahead for the first time in the game.
Connor Higgins, Nolan Daniel, Dakota “Stilts” Albritton, and Zack Phillips combined talents to toss four scoreless innings of relief as the Nanners edged out the Ferry Hawks 2-1.
The Party Animals joined in on the northeast fun for game 2 in Staten Island and they wasted no time getting to work with a Reece Hampton leadoff double and then a Jake Skole sac fly plating a run in their first inning back in action. But a Dakota McFadden RBI single in the bottom of the first prevented the Bad Boys of Bananaland from earning a point. Ryan Kellogg was locked in and tapped in from that point on, keeping the Animals off the board across his next (and last) four innings pitched in which the Nanners used walk-offs from Dalton Mauldin, Eric Jones Jr. and Noah Bridges to mount a 3-0 lead. That was all the offense they’d need, as the Party Animals would earn points against Mat Wolf & DJ the Invader but Matt Malatesta and Danny Hosley would shut the door on a 4-2 Nanners victory, putting them a win in Syracuse or Cooperstown away from winning New York…
The Twin Horses of the Bananapoclypse
I’m a mega-baseball nerd so it may just be me, but there is something so gosh darn satisfying about a dominant bullpen.
Dunkin’ Park in Hartford, Connecticut: 2 Hours & 6 Minutes from Saugerties, New York
Funny enough, this ballgame in Hartford will be the closest Banana Ball makes it to the town I grew up in until we finish the tour at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, (which is an easy trip to make in under two hours from Saugerties).
The first ever Banana Ball game broadcast on NESN was basically two games that you could split right down the middle. The Animals were unstoppable through the first four innings, winning them 1-0, 1-0, 2-0, and 1-0. Garett Delano was at the peak of his powers mowing down Bananas left and right and it looked like the bad boys would waltz to a blowout win.
In the middle of the Animals dominance was DR Meadows upping the ante on the stakes of his backflip catches…
The Doctor is Flipping with Runners in Scoring Position Now
The onions it takes to send the back-flip with a runner on third is really something. But then our good pal David Ray took it to a whole nother’ level in Maine. We can’t get ahead of ourselves here though.
The Party Animals put up two more runs in the top of the fifth and with the game seemingly in-hand Jake Skole tried to pull-off a trick play to start the bottom of the inning. The ball barely slipped out of his glove allowing Hosley to reach and then it was a Cox sprint, LeRoy single, Jackson Olson single (playing Banana Ball in his home state for the first time), and a DR Meadows double to walk-off the inning. Just like that the Nanners were on the board. But quite possibly the most important part of the fifth inning rally was Cowboy Kyle making his first pinch running appearance in his six years as a Banana…
RUN KYLE, RUN!
OHHHH YEAHHHH! That’s another serious dose of Bananaland magic right there! This place never ceases to amaze me. By the way, the only other time Kyle had run the bases in his Bananas career was earlier in this game over three years ago…
You just cannot make this stuff up.
Okay, back to the ballgame that the Party Animals now lead 4-1. You can tell where it’s headed and I threw all the action from this point on into video form for you…
Bananas Shock the Party Animals in Hartford
That’s a textbook comeback victory right there.
Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, Massachusetts: 3 Hours & 11 Minutes from Saugerties, New York
We start to venture further from the Catskill Mountains but closer to the oldest ballpark in MLB history 😉 So obviously we needed to have a reunion with one of our most legendary Bananas…
Johnny Damon Plays Banana Ball Round 3: The Crew Walks Off the First
- I hope there’s an Always Sunny fan or two out there who enjoys what’s happening here.
- ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! It felt like they probably heard the roar from Campanelli Stadium 24 miles down the road in Fenway Park. The great folks in Brockton just absolutely lost their collective minds.
After the first inning fireworks it was pitching duel time between Jared Donalson and Bret Helton. Donnie struck out a tour-high eight Animals and allowed two of his three hits as well as his lone run in the sixth on a Reece Lightning RBI single that followed a Dustin Baber double. Then with two outs in the inning the Nanners went to the pen…
Doug Flutie Makes His Banana Ball Debut
After giving up a sprint to Tanner Thomas that Flutie was furious about, he threw a knuckleball that went about 380 feet to left that was barely foul off the bat of Bryson Bloomer. Flutie’s next offering knuckled just enough to be popped foul…
As Josh said, you simply cannot script this stuff. The beauty of Banana Ball is astounding.
A Jason Swan RBI sprint would be all the offense the boys in black and pink needed to win the seventh and take their first lead in points of the night but then a Jackson Olson walk-off single to win the eighth for the Nanners would send us to the ninth tied 2-2.
Hosley struck out the side in the top of the inning and Drew Gillespie responded with a 1-2-3 ninth of his own to send us to Showdowns for the second straight game. Then the best hitter on the tour added more Banana Ball history to his resume…
Reece Hampton Says “See You Laterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”
What a way to end an eight-game losing streak outside of Historic Grayson Stadium for the Party Animals! Truly heroic stuff from an all-time Banana Baller to paint Jesse Cole’s home state pink and black.
Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine: 4 Hours & 22 Minutes from Saugerties, New York
This was the farthest we were from Saugerties in our northeast journey but it would have been the closest ever Banana Ball game to my hometown two weeks ago.
Cowboy Kyle was trying to strand Dalton Cornett on first in the first when he had to face his good buddy Bryson Bloomer…
Don’t Fool Me Once Don’t Fool Me Again
Kyle would catch Bloomer looking the next at-bat for a smidge of revenge. It’s just always a delight to see the fellas who won the Petitt Cup together in 2021 do battle.
The Nanners would actually respond with single, single, error, double, single to walk-off the first 3-2 without committing an out.
But in the second the Animals were once again ready to do some serious damage with two outs..
Reece Hampton Blast His Second Homer Across His Last Three At-Bats
I’d been holding that one for the perfect moment. Reece seemed like just the right fella for it.
The dinger would be the difference in the inning as the bad boys tied the game at a point each.
Kyle righted the ship after this though as he kept the Party Animals off the board in the third, fourth, and fifth and then was replaced by Stilts with two outs and nobody on in the sixth. He also added this doozy to his enormous 2023 highlight tape…
Cowboy Kyle Nabs His Third 120 Footer of the Tour
What a beautiful thing to watch sail in there. The movement is preposterous.
Somehow the way the the top of the fifth ended was even wilder…
The Doctor Goes Full Flippo Mode with the Bases Loaded!
And this is how the bottom of that inning ended…
Mr. Olson Once Again Proves He Can Absolutely Punish Baseballs
Shoutout to that heckler in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in the spring of 2021 for gifting Jackson and the Bananas the perfect line to kickoff a Tik Tok. It is not the first time it’s been used and I doubt it will be the last. By the way, Jackson did literally hit a home run on the pitch thrown as the fan was yelling this.
Remember how Kyle left with the bases empty and two outs in the sixth? Well the Animals actually snuck an unearned run across on Stilts and won the inning to pull within a point.
Then they unloaded six runs on Nolan Daniel (who had been superb across his first seven outings on the tour) in the top of the seventh. During the offensive barrage a fan snagged a foul ball which was the 50th caught for an out on the season!
Because Bananaland was on an all-time heater in Portland, obviously in the bottom of the inning Alex Ziegler did this…
Ziggy Turns the Lights Out and the Heat Up
It just gets better and better!
The Party Animals took the lead again in the ninth with a “Tinder” Thomas lead-off triple (which made him the first player in Banana Ball history to triple twice in one game) and a Skole RBI sprint.
But there was more Bananas magic in the northeast air…
The Nanners Rally as the Clock Runs Out
So. Many. Bananas. Rallies!!!
On night two the fans in Portland caught a foul ball for each team in the first inning! After the roaring start a Danny Hosley double for his tour-leading 26th walk-off won the Bananas the second inning.
Then our resident Canadian, Ryan Kellogg, broke out the hockey stick and showed off his multi-sport skills…
The Pride of the Great White North Gets Tricky!
I’m honestly at a loss for words at this point with the amount of absurd things that I’ve now highlighted in this article. I still stand by my words when the play happened live. Truly sensational stuff.
The Animals would use a four-run sixth and the fans catching their third foul ball of the game tying the Banana Ball record, to tie the game at two points apiece and that was the score as we entered the ninth inning. Hosley tossed a 1-2-3 top of the inning with a pair of K’s (what’s new) and the Party Animals turned to Drew Gillespie to try to hold serve.
Deeb worked a leadoff sprint, Oberst tapped an infield single, and EJ reached on a swinging bunt that Gillespie mishandled to load the bases with nobody out. Drew then picked up a huge strikeout of D-Mac with a 91 mph fastball on the outside corner which brought Bill LeRoy to the dish…
How about that! Our journey through the northeast is bookended by a pair of walk-offs from the King of Dublin (Georgia). Although it wasn’t a double like his last two game-winners, this was much more of a textbook LeRoy walk-off. Get the ball in play and force the defense to get you out. Tale as old as time for the six-year Nanner.
So once again Bill’s Bananas thrived outside of the Peach State. They went 6-1 on the road trip, taking Connecticut and Maine from the Party Animals and New Jersey from the Trenton Thunder. The Animals escaped the trip with Massachusetts in hand but they went 1-4 in the northeast and ship out to Des Moines, Iowa (a 17 hour and 14 minute drive to Saugerties for everyone wondering), a tour-worst seven games behind the Nanners. As the schedule currently stands they’d need to win-out just to tie the season series against their arch-rivals.
We’ll see if the Party Animals can spark some late season magic in the capital of the Hawkeye State or if the Bananas can keep it rolling on the road! We’ll be live with the pregame show on the Bananas YouTube channel at 7:30 pm eastern on Friday night.
Thank you to all the brave souls who made it this far! As the Hardest Working Man in Sports, Reginald Horton, would tell you, this was the most juiceful write up of the tour so far. I’m sure we’ll make many more ludicrous memories on stop number 30 this coming weekend!