- Rockwood School District
Lafayette Grad Enjoys Unorthodox Summer Baseball Journey with Savannah Bananas
Gavin Oswald, a 2021 Lafayette High graduate, was on vacation in Panama City, Florida, when he got a text that would change the trajectory of his summer.
He had an opportunity to join the Savannah Bananas collegiate summer baseball team.
“I was on the beach and next thing I know, seven days later, I was dancing in front of 5,000 people,” Oswald said.
The Bananas are not your typical baseball team. While they have enjoyed success on the field – including three Coastal Plain League championships in the past six years – what really sets the Bananas apart is the show they put on during the games.
That includes everything from a ceremonial banana first pitch to babies dressed in banana costumes to players introducing themselves as they come up to bat.
And, of course, dancing players.
“For a 7 o’clock game, you walk in at 2 or 3, there’s a sheet and it’s almost like a cast list,” Oswald said. “You find out if you’re pitching that day and, if you’re not, you check the list and see what you’re doing. Then you go to our dancing coach – who has appeared on America’s Got Talent three times … you can’t really replace him – and he walks four extremely ungraceful people through the dancing we’d do that night.”
Oswald said that, two hours before home games, there would be a couple thousand people lined up outside the stadium waiting to get in and snag the best seats. The Bananas routinely sell out historic Grayson Stadium – and they have been featured on national outlets such as ESPN, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and CBS Sunday Morning.
“My dad, mom and brother were able to come down for about a week,” Oswald said. “The entire time they were there, I don’t think my dad stopped smiling. I think he still has a smile on his face. He thought it was the coolest thing in the entire world.”
And they win. Oswald pitched three times for the Bananas during his 16 days with the team, including a start in one of the team’s playoff games as they won the league title.
“I was under the impression that it was a bunch of guys who were decent at dancing and didn’t take baseball seriously,” Oswald said. “But then, when I got there, it was a bunch of guys who didn’t know how to dance but were really good at baseball. Everybody was skilled. You kind of just learn to dance on the fly.”
Oswald is entering his sophomore year playing baseball at Mineral Area College in Park Hills. His future could hold a scholarship to play at a four-year school or a shot at playing professionally.
If it also includes another stint or two with the Bananas, he wouldn’t mind that either. In any case, he has memories that will last a lifetime.
“I can confidently say it was the best experience of my life. I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Oswald said. “I pitched one of the best games of my life when I was with the Bananas because I was always having fun. I was pitching, singing Journey, keeping it laid back. My advice to kids playing would be ‘don’t take it too seriously.’”
Click here to see a KSDK Channel 5 feature on Oswald and his time with the Bananas.