Top 8 Moments from a Magical Weekend of Banana Ball in Tampa

Written by Biko Skalla:


We had one of the greatest games in Banana Ball history on Friday night in George M Steinbrenner Field and followed it up with a wild rematch between the Bananas and Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association on Saturday. The Spring Training home of the New York Yankees turned out to be a miraculous arena for Banana Ball. With the exact dimensions of Yankee Stadium, the classic white façade wrapping nearly from foul pole to foul pole, and the enormous YANKEES signs at the top of each side of foul territory, the springtime home of the 27-time World Series Champions was alive with a special energy as soon as gates opened on Friday. And what better way to kickoff the weekend in the ballpark named after The Boss than by wearing insanely large hats and pulling off a brand new trick play…

Ryan Cox Starts the Weekend Off Right

I’m not sure there is a better possible way to begin a ballgame than this…

As amazing of a nickname as “The Glove Magician” is, clearly it does not fully encompass Ryan’s ability to use a variety of tools to create outs in the field.

Banana Ball at its Best

Cox had set the tone from the jump and his teammates and opponents alike were ready to rise to the occasion…

All-Time Great Bananas Rally

Down 4-1 going into the bottom of the 9th, Bill Lee told his teammates to take pitches until they got a strike. Bill LeRoy took the advice to heart and had a classic, energy packed, rally starting at-bat. The rest is, as the kids say, history…

What an epic way for the Nanners to win battle for Florida! And boy oh boy did those guys need the W. As you can see from the handiwork of our Director of Entertainment, Zack Frongillo…

Florida, Texas, Arizona, and West Virginia have all been decided. 16 states are still up for grabs! At this current juncture the Party Animals hold a 56 to 30 lead in Electoral College votes. Looks like we may need some Jake Skole and Bryson Bloomer election style shirts in the Banana Stand.

Now on to Saturday night…

Welcome to Banana Ball, Nick Swisher

A guy who was born to play our young sport got a hilarious introduction courtesy of our Twin Princes of Bananaland…

By the way, I meant to say league championships in that quote, the Yanks didn’t win a World Series in the 80’s either. Anyway, it’s only been seen over 2.2 million times on Twitter so it’s not like that many people have heard my mistake (insert facepalm emoji).

Swish would double and then score on a Michael Morse RBI single in what was a promising start for the former Major Leaguers!

But in the bottom of the inning Dan Oberst would steal first AND second, Michael Deeb would single him in and take second on the throw home, and then Dakota McFadden would drive in pinch runner Malachi Mitchell for an easy, breezy, beautiful first inning walk-off and that was emblematic for how the rest of the evening would go.

Even though the Nanners would walk-off each of the next seven innings to win 8-0, there was a whole lot of fun to be had along the way.

Lou Piniella Makes His Mark on Banana Ball

They call him “Sweet Lou” because of how beautiful his swing was to behold across his 18 years in Major League Baseball, the last eleven of which were playing for the Yankees. But the nickname still fits Piniella perfectly because he is as nice a guy as you’ll ever get to meet. He was more than happy to pop on a mic to chat with me on the broadcast, and although he didn’t fully understand the technology he was using, Lou gave a dynamite interview and the screenshots we have below from our chat might send more serotonin to my brain than anything I’ve ever seen before…

That’s a three-time World Series Champion and Manager of the Year right there! Lou is simply the best.

Mat Wolf in His Bag

Our Trick Pitching Extraordinaire had one of his best innings of the year retiring Matt Joyce, Nick Swisher, and George Kottaras in order. The frame started with this excellent play call from LeRoy that got a swinging strike on Joyce and baffled the former Ray so much he stepped out of the box and had strike two called on him just like that…

Eric Jones and Dan Oberst are Bananaland’s Bash Bros

Eric homered for the second time in as many MLBPAA games and Dan sent a ball on a one-way trip to the short porch in right to the delight of over 60 of his friends and family members in George M. Steinbrenner Field…

The Bananas Get Their 100th Trick Play in Game 28

If that sounds absurd, it’s because it is. There was ONE trick play in 14 games across the 2022 Banana Ball World Tour. The Nanners are averaging 3.6 trick plays per game on this time around…

It has been far too long since I sauced one of these weekend recaps together for you all, and for that I truly apologize. You deserve an explanation, so here are my excuses for failing you in chronological order:

Berry and Katy Aldridge’s wedding.

A day of hiking, brunch, goat yoga, and Top Golf in Phoenix.

Easter and Passover Weekend: AKA the only time on the 8-month tour I get to see my family in Upstate New York.

Supporting our Director of Creative Content, Ivan Traczuk, and our World Tour Coordinator, Lauren Henderson, as they ran a 10-mile race at Disneyworld. Sure, I slept through their race but I showed my support by sampling a beverage in every country Epcot has to offer. For a man who’s never left the United States, I feel like I’ve just about seen all the world can offer after that Sunday in Orlando.

And finally. my weakest excuse yet: needing a couple days of mental rest after the Bananas battled the Dirty Birds up in Charleston, West Virginia.

This tour is a marathon, not a 10-mile Disneyworld sprint, and I will be doing my best to both recap the amazing moments that happen the rest of the way, and keep my mind and body humming throughout this incredible 20-state, 33-city, 87-game experiment.

I appreciate your understanding, and if you don’t understand, I appreciate your massive desire for weekend recaps! In fact, I’m not sure which I appreciate more.

It only gets wilder from here, friends! Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night will all be battles between the Bananas and the Kansas City Monarchs of the American Association. This is a rematch of the first ever Challenger Series, which ended in a one-win apiece tie last May. I’m no expert mathematician, but the number skills I am equipped with allow me to tell you this: There can be no tie this time around.

Our pregame festivities will be live at 6:30 pm central time on Thursday and first pitch will be at 7:00pm CT sharp! I’m not sure words can quite explain my excitement for our return to Legends Field. The stakes are higher than ever, the Bananas are fired up after an amazing weekend for them in Tampa, and the Monarchs will be looking to make a statement. To quote Russell Crowe from the epic Academy Award Winner for Best Picture in 2000, Gladiator: Are you not entertained?!?

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