3 Brilliant Lessons About Entrepreneurship I Learned by Attending a Savannah Bananas Baseball Game

The viral TikTok sensation took the field in my hometown, and I was there to see one of sports’ most innovative entrepreneurs in action.

Aaron Dinin, PhD

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The author, Aaron Dinin, snaps a selfie with Savanah Bananas owner Jesse Cole.

If you’ve spent even a few hours on social media in the past couple of years, you’ve surely encountered the Savannah Bananas. They’re the minor league baseball team that wears blindingly yellow uniforms and does coordinated TikTok dances during games. While I’m sure the ghost of Abner Doubleday is rolling over in his imaginary Cooperstown grave, I’d argue the Bananas have infused baseball with some much-needed levity.

In case you haven’t heard the Bananas’ origin story, it’s worth a Google. Owner/operator Jesse Cole and his wife, Emily, foolishly decided that buying a minor league baseball team in Savannah, Georgia was going to be their ticket to wealth and happiness. To be fair, I suppose it ultimately was their ticket to wealth and happiness, but only after mortgaging their house, going into debt for a million dollars, and having to sleep on air mattresses.

Despite those struggles, the Coles eventually realized that success as a minor league baseball franchise didn’t have to mean desperately suckling at the parsimonious teet of a major league team. Instead, they could play baseball their own (fun) way and share it with the world using social media.

The result has been extraordinary. As of this writing, the Savannah Bananas have 7.1 million followers on TikTok. For comparison, the Yankees have 1.2 million. Who knew so many people would prefer neon yellow to classic pinstripes?

The Bananas have been so successful that, when I heard they were bringing their social media shenanigans to my hometown of Durham, North Carolina via a summer world tour, I made sure to have tickets.

Yes, I live in Durham, North Carolina, which, you might know, also has a special place in minor league baseball lore. It’s the namesake of Bull Durham, the 80s Kevin Costner movie that’s achieved cult-like TV rerun status. In other words, my hometown has seen a crowded stadium or two in its day. However, despite the success of my local…

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Aaron Dinin, PhD

I teach entrepreneurship at Duke. Software Engineer. PhD in English. I write about the mistakes entrepreneurs make since I’ve made plenty. More @ aarondinin.com