This month’s Member Spotlight is beaming down on an MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove winner, 3x professional league champion, and 2-year Party Animal with the Savannah Bananas, who has now arrived in the Czech Republic for his first season overseas.  We present the Stylin’ Hawaiian, Breland Almadova

The Savannah Bananas grew from a collegiate summer team into a full-blown professional exhibition team, with 2023 being the first year that they shifted gears and focused solely on the Banana Ball World Tour.  What was it like to be part of this inaugural year in Bananaland?  While in the middle of it, did you realize how much you were impacting the global growth of baseball?

BrelandWell, technically the first Banana Ball was in Mobile, a 1-city World Tour, playing 1 game.  Then in 2022 there was the 7-city World Tour, which I joined after an intense tryout of 100 players and only 40 were kept.  That first year was insane.  I had no idea what to expect but it was the most fun.  I kept pushing boundaries and trying new things to see what I could get away with on the field and what I couldn’t.  Yes, it’s meant to be a show, but the competition is real and nothing is scripted.  Things do get HEATED.  But no matter win or lose, we are out there on that field making someone smile and have the time of their life.  When I’m out on the field, I go into a whole other world and it’s an escape for me, total freedom, almost like I’m in a trance.  It’s the best time I’ve ever had, mixing baseball and entertainment at the same time.  

I knew I was making an impact in a new world of baseball but not on this grand of a scale.   I was very fortunate to be part of something special from almost the beginning of it, and at least the beginning of the blow-up of Banana Ball on social media.  I only realized it was going to be something special when I started seeing videos go viral on social media and a couple of videos I was in.  Life in BananaLand is truly a blur.”

Photos: Breland played his final two college seasons with the University of Hawaii where he was the starting center fielder and a 2011 WAC Conference champion. 

Playing with the Party Animals must have been rewarding, bringing new eyes to baseball, being a star to young kids, etc.  Is there anything from a competition standpoint that you struggled with?  Or was it refreshing after a lengthy pro career to do something different and fun?  

Breland: “At first, I was on a seesaw, kinda finding the balance between being competitive and becoming a showman.  I really didn’t care about winning because I was told, ‘it’s mainly about entertaining and creating the greatest show in sports.’  So my first World Tour, I was focused on entertaining and testing the boundaries of what was acceptable.  I would push boundaries on how far I could go.  Yea, guys would get upset, but to me, it was something new and honestly, we weren’t playing baseball… it was Banana Ball; ‘Fans First, Entertain Always.’ With that in mind, I used my athleticism and creativity to entertain fans, put on a show and try new things.  I was getting out of my comfort zone.

Then the more I experimented, the more I balanced entertaining and playing ball to win at the same time.  It’s all a matter of feel and timing, and getting experience in the game to know when it’s appropriate.  It was a refreshing start to my career of having fun and nothing holding me back.  I could literally be me, playing a game and having fun like it’s meant to be played.  The show created a platform to express myself and do whacky, weird, crazy things that I could never do in the structured minor leagues or independent leagues.  I found myself being more successful because I was focused on others rather than myself.  If what I did brought fun and excitement to others, then I was fulfilled.”

Breland brought fun, excitement, and pizza to the people.  Grab your slice here:

You played NCAA D1, then made it to High A with the Diamondbacks, before playing in some of the highest independent leagues in the US: the Atlantic, American and Frontier leagues.  Then you played as a Party Animal.  You’ve been in a lot of new environments & challenges over the years.  How has your career to-date shaped you to be a good fit for overseas, and led you to start this new journey? 

Breland: “My career has honestly been a rollercoaster of emotions.  I have been part of winning championships and personal awards, to losing heartbreaking playoff games and sometimes not even sniffing playing time.  The highs and lows of minor league ball and indy ball are real and frequent.  The grind is something no one outside of baseball will understand.  It’s been a tough 13-year career so far but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  The long, late night bus rides, the crappy pay and hotel stays, and usually playing in front of 50 fans in the stands, are all something I never expected but I surely embraced it all and enjoyed every moment.   What I realized is that the grind is hard, but it’s about being with a team, being with the boys, knowing that we’re playing for the same reason; we love the game and we love to compete, with the possibility of making it to the big leagues.

However, there comes a point in the career where we either accept the fact we won’t make it to the MLB and just keep playing because it’s fun and we can make money in other leagues, or we retire because other priorities pop up in our minds, such as money, a family, and more stability/security in life.  My last 3 seasons in indy ball have been the most rigorous.  Covid year (2020), I had to go out to Sugarland for a tryout I saw online, for a 4 team covid league that the former Sugarland Skeeters of the Atlantic league were holding.  So I flew to Arizona from Hawaii to get my car and drive to Sugarland, a 16 hour drive, just for a one-day tryout.  Thank God, Pete Incaviglia recognized me from the previous season playing for the High Point Rockers and always doing well against the Skeeters, so he signed me right away.  Then in 2021, I had a hard time finding a team.  Signed to the Gateway Grizzlies, only to be released at the end of a 2-week spring training.  Then meeting up with the Houston Apollos, the travel team of the American Association, and playing with them for a month.  Then the Long Island Ducks signed me and I played well for them but only for a short stint, as they released me after about 5 weeks.  Lucky me, I found another job with the Lexington Legends just a couple days later.  I had a rough time there with playing time but it was worth it cause we won the Atlantic League championship.

2022 comes, and I try out for the Bananas who were going to have a 7-City World Tour.  Out of 100 guys, they kept 40 and split us up between the Bananas and the Party Animals.  I joined the Party Animals and killed it as a baseball player but also a showman.  I used this 2-month tour as a spring training leading into an indy ball season, but I struggled finding a team.  I joined the Lexington Genomes for a week, then the Gateway Grizzlies for about 3 weeks, then the Washington Wild Things for a week.  I struggled to stick with a team that year.  It didn’t make any sense to me, being a guy that still has a lot of skill and talent and is healthy.  So I went back to the Bananas as they held a Breakfast Bowl Series in August, 3 weeks, 6 games.  I was once again a Party Animal and that’s all she wrote, as I was signed to the Party Animals in 2023 for their epic 33-city World Tour.  That was an incredible journey.

So, my career now has led me to finding a baseball job overseas.  I will say though, I have been trying to find a winter ball job overseas since 2015 while I was still with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  I was trying Australia, Europe, Japan, South America.  I was reaching out to every coach, contact, baseball person I knew just trying to find an in.  Unfortunately, nothing ever worked out.  My goal once realizing the big leagues were getting out of reach was to play overseas, anywhere, before even thinking about retiring from this game which has been my life since I was 4 years old.

Professionally, baseball has been the only job I’ve held ideally.  Sure, I’ve worked some part-time off-season jobs to cover the bills, but I truly hated working in the corporate world.  Those jobs wouldn’t last too long.  My main focus has been baseball, and to use this gift I have to travel and create new experiences every year.

Now, I finally have a chance to play in Europe where I can adventure into a new country and possibly multiple countries.  My goal for playing overseas is to use my knowledge and 13-year professional experience to help develop the game and the young generation coming up all while experiencing new cultures, food, and people.  My playing career has built me to be in the position I’m in right now, because I have dealt with a lot of adversity which has shaped my mentality into accepting new roles in baseball and just keep moving forward, finding a way to continue to play.

This new journey, I have been preparing for since the start of my career without even knowing it. Everything that happened in my career happened for a reason, and that reason right now is to play ball overseas in Europe for the first time in 2024 and experience a whole new world.  I couldn’t have asked for anything more at this moment because I am the best fit for baseball overseas.  I come with high energy, experience, knowledge, and an open mind!”

Open-minded, level-headed, and willing to see things from a new perspective.  The characteristics that will do him well overseas and also went into this headstand stunt that… let’s just say, took a lot of trust in his catcher.

Need more Almadova trick plays? Check out this compilation video. 

You’ve played high-level baseball for almost 15 years, starting in 2010 with college ball.  But this will be your first season playing overseas and competing for a national championship.  This deep in your playing career, what has motivated you to give European ball a go?

Breland: I have always tried throughout my career to play overseas, at least a season of winter ball somewhere.   And at year 13, it’s finally happening when it’s supposed to happen.  Because European teams are getting more and more recognition every year in the World Baseball Classic, like why not go and play in Europe and see what all the hype is about?  The culture, new style of baseball, and new people, are what motivate me to travel across the world to continue my career.  New experiences and memories, over money.”

You were speaking with several teams this off-season, so how did you decide on the Třebíč Nuclears?  What was your overseas recruitment process like?

Breland: Ultimately, deciding on the Trebic Nuclears was a tough process.  I had two other teams reach out that were interested in me; one in Poland and one in Belgium.  I took into consideration everything they offered and what the country offered.  But, I also did my homework and reached out to at least 20 other teams all throughout Europe, from Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and other cities in Czech.  Finding a team was a difficult and long process because my name was so new to baseball in Europe and the import rule is hard to break through no matter what kind of career resume you have.  There are limited spots on each team, 2-3 imports only, and that took a lot of patience.  Without BBJO, I honestly believe I wouldn’t have found the opportunity to play somewhere. 

My decision for choosing Trebic came down to these factors: level of competition, support of the coaching staff, how involved I will be with the team to help develop younger and upcoming players, the city and attractions, surrounding countries, and team amenities included.  Honestly though, I wish I could play for all the teams and experience multiple cities and countries at once.”

Well-known in the baseball world, you were celebritized by your memorable personality and entertaining stunts while playing with the Party Animals.  How do you think your fans will react to seeing you play in Europe this summer?  What do you have in store for your followers?

Breland: I can’t speak for my fans, but I believe they will be excited that they can continue to watch me play and further my career in a new chapter of baseball.  It will be a new adventure to be a part of for my fans, family, and friends as I embark on year 13 of my professional career.  I think what’s the coolest is that now, I can take what I learned in BananaLand back into real baseball to continue the fun and share the knowledge and experiences with others.   I will be able to mix and match showmanship into regular baseball and have new teammates see me as a leader, someone who revolutionized the game and brought fun back into it.

It’ll be an epic summer in Europe.  New team, new country, new people, new food, new experiences, and I’ll be documenting everything and posting it on social media for all to see and for those to live vicariously through me.”

We’re sure that Breland’s fans and friends remember this video, a tiny tidbit of Breland’s career which lies in the record books, although he might wish it was forgotten — he was on the receiving end of the world’s fastest strikeout. 

But to be fair, he’s better known for the long ball.  Check out one of his lofty homers and in-your-face celebrations, here.

As a veteran on the field and in the clubhouse, yet someone who is still trying something new, what philosophy are you bringing to this season?

Breland: “The only philosophy I have coming into this season is to be a good teammate, have fun, and be open-minded to new experiences and cultures.  I believe that I am the Rookie, and my new teammates are the Veterans because they all are either from Czech or played ball in Europe before.  So I am eager to learn and bring some American baseball knowledge and expertise to the team.  It’s my first time, so it’s time to take risks, and take the leap.  Let the fun begin!”

In the words of Natasha Bedingfield, the rest is still unwritten… but in the meantime, here are some more whacky highlights from Breland’s Bananaland shenanigans:


Not ready to hang them up?  Seeking a new career path?

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