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This story is part of Only A Game's Thanksgiving Leftovers Show. Find the full episode here.
Back in August, we told the origin story of baseball’s wackiest team: A collegiate summer league club called the Savannah Bananas. The owner, Jesse Cole, is one of our more … memorable recent guests.
"I’ve been wearing a yellow tuxedo every single day at the ballpark since 2011," Jesse says. "And I wear it every day now. Every single time I go to the airport, TSA does a double check on me. Because they think a crazy guy in a yellow tuxedo needs to be checked. And I agree with them."
One of Jesse’s most memorable moments with the Bananas came on his team’s opening night back in 2016.
In the seventh inning of the Savannah Bananas’ very first game, a woman came up to Jesse with a request.
" ‘Can you get me a signed baseball?’ She says, ‘You have no idea how much that would mean to me,’ " Jesse recalls.
Jesse’s business philosophy is “fans first”: start with the entertainment, and the baseball will follow. Hence … the yellow tuxedo, the break-dancing first base coach and the bunches and bunches of banana puns. He told her he’d do it.
"She goes, ‘I'm here with my fiancée’s whole family. He had come to every single opening night at this stadium since he was a kid. And he just tragically died two weeks ago. And we're here to pay tribute to him.’ And she said, ‘One more thing: his name was Drew Moody. And you have a player on your roster named Drew Moody.’ And I was blown away."
Bananas pitcher Drew Moody was still finishing his college baseball season and hadn’t yet arrived in Savannah for the summer. But his younger brother, Logan Moody, was already playing for the Bananas.
"So I went into the dugout, and I told Logan about it," Jesse says. "Logan rushed, got everyone's signature. And he said, ‘I'd like to deliver the baseball to her.’ "
The woman and her fiancée’s family were sitting in the 4,000-seat grandstand at Grayson Stadium.
"And I watched as Logan Moody, this 18 year old, walked all the way up and delivered her the baseball," Jesse says. "And he sat with her and the family for an entire half inning. And I watched as she gave him a huge hug with tears flowing. And I could see her say, ‘Thank you.’
"And he walked by me. And I said, ‘Logan, what was that?’ He goes, ‘It's fans first, right?’ This 18 year old knew what it was all about. And at that moment I realized — truly — we're on to something special. And it's about the memories we make and the moments we create."
Despite a long pregame rain delay and a sloppy on-field performance from the Bananas, the woman and her fiancée’s family stayed until the final out.
"And they all gave me a hug as they left the ballpark that night," Jesse says. "And that was Opening Night for us back in 2016."
Our original story on the origin of the Savannah Bananas aired on Aug. 11, 2018.
This segment aired on November 24, 2018.
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