Written by: Biko Skalla
I’ll be honest right off the bat here. Expectations were pretty low for Oklahoma. I mean this is a tour where we’re going to more traditionally powerful states like California, New York, Texas, and Arizona and we had literally just come from the magnificent city of Las Vegas. We’re beyond fired up for all 33 of our stops, don’t get me wrong here, but it would be silly to not admit there are levels to these things. Yet when all was said and done I bet if you polled the 120+ folks who made the journey to the Sooner State as a part of Fan’s First Entertainment the majority of them would tell you Oklahoma was their favorite stop thus far. So I tip my cap to all the Boomers, Sooners, and everyone in between that make the 46th state to join the union such an amazing place to visit. From the wonderful Bricktown district that surrounds Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, to the motorized scooters that make any journey through OKC or Tulsa an exhilarating midwestern adventure, The Chicken Shack on Route 66 that welcomed us with open arms, the staff with the Oklahoma City Dodgers and Tulsa Drillers who were a delight to work with and made us feel at home in their stadiums, and all of the fine establishments that put up with our rowdy bunch of characters, Oklahoma blew us away. What a grand tootin’ time it was out there.
Before we get to the action, here’s what happened Friday morning in The Big Friendly.
Bethany Children’s Health Center Becomes Bananaland
Players from the Bananas and Party Animals visited Bethany Children’s Health Center to put on an impromptu Banana Ball game for the patients and staff and the video from the event will make you think someone’s cutting onions in your general vicinity…
This is what it’s all about right here.
The Bananas Start Red Hot in OKC
Are you not entertained?!
A Trio of Walk-Off Two Baggers
The Nanners finished even better than they started as the offense came alive late on Friday night turning a tied game into a blowout by Banana Ball standards…
Man it’s fun to see the boys catching some barrels.
Revenge of the Party Animals
After a Dakota McFadden 4th inning walk-off homer on Saturday night (more on that in a bit), the Bananas had a 3-1 lead and looked poised to sweep OKC and take the great state of Oklahoma with it. Then the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings happened and that no longer seemed to be the case…
The Home Run Queen of College Softball Makes Her Bananas Debut
Jocelyn Alo is the Babe Ruth of college softball. She obliterated the previous home run record of 95 by blasting 122 dingers in her time at Oklahoma University. Oh yeah and she also racked up back-to-back player of the year awards and NCAA Championships, was a four-time All-American, the number one overall pick last year in the Woman’s Professional Fastpitch draft and she hit .373 in her first season as a pro…
She would strikeout on a nasty 3-2 sinker from Tucker Perry but it was a magical moment and I do not think it’s the last time we’ll see Jocelyn in Bananaland.
The First Ever Foul Ball Caught by a Centerfielder?!
You have to see it to believe it…
Safe to say this was a MUCH better result than the first time we tried this, which resulted in the Dustin Baber steal of first base on Saturday night.
It was a 3-2 Party Animals lead as we headed to the 8th inning in Tulsa when Dan Oberst sent a bomb over the rightfield wall to tie the game in one fell swoop (more on that in a bit). Matt Malatesta and Bret Helton put zeros up in the top and bottom halves of the 9th which sent us to Showdowns. Before I show the video of what happened next I would like to offer all the context I can provide.
Showdowns Provide an Exciting End to Oklahoma
Reece Hampton stroked a hard groundball to right field and easily raced around the bases to make it 4-3 Party Animals. Eric Jones bashed a frozen rope off the leftfield wall (shades of Kansas City) and the ensuing play at the plate was very close with Vincent Chapman calling EJ out. Jones spiked his helmet and while getting to his feet was yelling at Vincent who returned the favor by quickly closing the ground between him and Eric. From what I see on the video and from speaking to many of the parties involved here’s what happened next: EJ placed his hands on Vincent’s chest to stop Chapman’s forward progress, then turned around and tried to leave the situation. Vincent took offense to Eric placing his hands on him and he returned the favor by shoving Jones in the back. It’s a combination of things that shouldn’t ever happen escalating into a nearly unfathomable moment.
This is not an event that occurred just because of what happened Monday night but one that we’ve been building up to over the 39 games of this tour. Vincent has the toughest job in the organization and he’s putting on an incredible show with his seemingly endless energy and mesmerizing dance moves but the nature of his entertaining can detract from his umpiring abilities sometimes. These are insanely competitive professional athletes who have played baseball for most of their lives and believe they know every inch of the strike zone and have certainly been seen sharing a plethora pieces of their mind with Vince during games. He has been behind the plate for all 9,714 pitches of this tour (thank you Josh Talevski for keeping track of pitch counts and a seemingly infinite amount of other stats throughout the season). 9,714 pitches, just incase you didn’t fully let that soak in the first time you read it. And there have been a couple instances recently where we saw Vincent returning fire towards the players, seemingly more than ever throughout the three games last weekend. It all reached a boiling point and then a perfect storm hit of an emotional finish to the battle for Oklahoma that sent things truly off the rails. Here’s how it all went down…
Vincent was suspended two games for his actions. He will serve the first on night one in Nashville and the second on the following Thursday when the Aussie Drop Bears start their four game series (three against the Bananas, one against the Party Animals). EJ was suspended one game.
The ending certainly wasn’t ideal but it was an otherwise magical homecoming for Tyler Gillum, Mat Wolf, and Joe Lytle. Gillum said he probably knew close to 7,000 of the folks who came to OKC and cried happy tears at least 15 times. Wolf got to pitch, hit, and play a dazzling second base in the city in which he’s still a fulltime firefighter and EMT. And back in the city Lytle grew up and went to college in he went 5-9, with a double, a ball-four-sprint, 4 RBI, 2 runs scored, and stole a base. It doesn’t get much batter than that!
Now lets watch some majestic home runs to cleanse the pallet before we saw our goodbyes today.
Who doesn’t love seeing some dingers amrite! All four of these were pretty special. Breland’s first ever Banana Ball bomb was a massive shot, Tanner’s oppo taco was insanely impressive, and of course D-Mac and Dan blasted thrilling inning enders.
After a couple days of rest and repair back in Savannah we all head to Nashville on Thursday for games Friday and Saturday night in Music City! We’ll be live with the pregame show on our YouTube page at 6:30 pm CT both nights as Tennessee is up for grabs if either team can secure a series sweep. The Bananas have Florida and the Party Animals have Texas and now Oklahoma while Arizona, West Virginia and Nevada will end tied and 14 states are still up for grabs!