STARKVILLE — It all started innocently enough, because Mississippi State designated hitter Jordan Westburg needed a snack between at-bats.
Westburg gobbled down a banana in the dugout during a Sunday doubleheader at the Tallahassee Regional on June 3. He went back for another but this time, Westburg decided to have a little fun with the fruit before having seconds.
Westburg began to use the banana as a pretend radar gun and captured the attention of ESPNU cameras.
Banana radar reads: 94 mph curveball
“ehhh… I could do better” (probably) pic.twitter.com/LQNWjrDcSL
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 4, 2018
Before long, he was being interviewed live during the game about his new creation.
The Bulldogs and their fan base have gone bananas over the fruit ever since and will be bringing it with them to the College World Series later this week.
— #OmaDawgs (@HailStateBB) June 12, 2018
Mississippi State opens play in Omaha, Nebraska, against Washington on Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
“I think it’s special,” said MSU pitcher Cole Gordon. “Every year has its thing — a quirk — something to get you going. What Jordan did and how he’s handled this is nothing but fun. It keeps us loose, gets us excited and gives us a reason to laugh in the dugout in times when it gets tense.”
Westburg and his teammate have gotten creative with the banana — wearing them like pistols in their belts, making mustaches, applying sunscreen and bug spray to them when necessary and even giving the banana a day off with a spa treatment.
The Fun Bunch
The Diamond Dogs even made out their lineup by writing their names on 10 bananas and hanging them inside the dugout.
“I’m glad that the kids are having a good time,” said MSU interim head coach Gary Henderson. “I want them to be loose, confident, play on the edge and like being in the dugout. All of those things come into play.”
— #OmaDawgs (@HailStateBB) June 13, 2018
Fans started showing up with bananas of their own — some real, some inflatable and some printed on T-shirts and Hawaiian style shirts. MSU’s marketing team even passed out plastic bananas adorned with the ‘M over S’ baseball logo during the Nashville Super Regional last weekend.
“The fans have really taken it to a new level and it’s really funny to watch,” Gordon said.
— Chiquita (@Chiquita) June 12, 2018
Henderson, who pitched at Linfield College and San Diego State, admitted to his share of dugout shenanigans during his playing days. Now, he simply wants his players to have fun playing a game that is filled with failure.
“You’ve got to be able to have a sense of humor if you play baseball and you’re in the dugout, you have to,” Henderson said. “While the banana may not directly impact humor, it speaks to the fact that you want your kids loose and enjoying the environment.”
This article is written by Logan Lowery from Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.