“How could you not believe in the banana?”
That’s the question Mississippi State University interim head coach Gary Henderson asked today after the Bulldogs beat North Carolina 12–2 to improve to 2–0 at the College World Series.
The banana became an unofficial mascot of the team when freshman Jordan Westburg got hungry during a game against Oklahoma on June 3 and grabbed a banana. Around the same time Westburg was pretending the fruit was a phone, the Bulldogs really started to play well, and they won 13–5. From there, the banana craze was born.
Henderson said the players need to be able to have fun in the dugout. “He’s got to make the phone call on the banana. Right?” Henderson said. “You gotta be able to do those things and become somebody different when you’re in the box.”
Some fans showed up to today’s game in banana outfits; others wore shirts urging people to “Rally Around the Banana.”
Westburg hit a home run with the bases loaded to give the Bulldogs the lead in the second inning. That grand slam was the 49th to ever occur at CWS and something that Westburg had always dreamed of. “It’s a moment that every ball player wants to go though,” he said, “and I was lucky enough to experience that.”
Westburg then hit a double with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to finish the game with seven RBIs.
Upon being asked about the banana during the Bulldogs’ press conference, Westburg said, “I think we had a good banana today.”
Mississippi State will play Friday against either Oregon State or North Carolina.
Top photograph by John Peterson/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images