SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah Bananas held tryouts today to add to the bunch. For the first time they’re fielding a team of professional — not collegiate players — to play four games this spring.
More than 70 baseball players from across the country made their way to Grayson Stadium, taking a swing at making the Bananas 34-man Premier Team roster.
All of them were skilled when it comes to the game, and some seemed very suited for the Bananas unique brand of baseball.
The tryout was fun, but it’s deeper than that. Because of the pandemic, hundreds of minor leaguers and lower-level pro baseball players were cut this past season.
“I’ve seen it firsthand, multiple of my friends just because of the pandemic, they lost opportunities and for some of them, that ended their career,” said Bill Pearson, one of the players trying out for the Bananas Premier Team.
Making this team would allow these players to get back out on the field, get in front of scouts and be compensated, even if only for four games.
“Hopefully make this team and, you know, just keep moving forward, and just keeping the dream alive,” said Dakota McFadden, another player at today’s tryouts.
They may be professional athletes by trade, but outside of the MLB, lower-level baseball is not glamorous and the pay is notoriously not great. Twenty players, including the two I talked with, were helped out by a local major league star.
“Josh Reddick helped pay for my hotel room coming down here, which really helped out a lot coming from Chicago, because obviously with the plane flight down here, so the hotel getting taken care of was really, really nice for Josh to do,” said Pearson.
They hope the next time they travel to Savannah, it’s because they’re part of the Banana bunch.
The Premier Team will be finalized in the coming days and play four games — the St. Patrick’s Day game, plus another home game, and the One City World Tour in Mobile, Ala.