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MiLB Promo Seminar Notebook
10/02/2006 9:02 AM ET
CHARLOTTE -- Here's a little Minor League trivia: What city has the world's largest iron figure, the country's oldest ballpark and is also the site of the 2007 Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar?

The answer is Birmingham, Ala., home to a 56-foot cast iron statue of the Roman god of fire Vulcan, as well as Rickwood Field, built for the Barons in 1910. Minor League Baseball will host next year's Promo Seminar in this Southern League city, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

"A lot of people have preconceived notions of Alabama," said Jonathan Nelson, general manager of the Barons, "but [Birmingham] is really a beautiful town."

Nelson, a native of Fairhope, Ala., who has been involved with professional baseball for the past 14 seasons, gave a presentation at the 2006 Promo Seminar on maximizing stadium revenues through events such as the AVP national volleyball tour, the SEC baseball tournament and Hoover High football (currently the nation's top prep team).

"I definitely want to invite everyone down to Birmingham next year," Nelson said. "Obviously we're very convenient to Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville. We've got great barbecue and we're home to Rickwood Field."

National Awards: Reading collected two of three new awards given out at the MiLB Promo Seminar last week.

Scott Hunsicker was presented with The MVP Award (Most Valuable Professional) given to the top assistant GM in the Minors. Hunsicker was recently promoted to GM of the R-Phils.

The Phils were also honored with the Extra Innings Award for excellence in community service, particularly for the opening of Gordon Hoodak Stadium in Lauer's Park.

The Closer Award, presented to the Minor Leagues' top salesperson, went to Pete Laven of the Arkansas Travelers.

7th Inning "Stretch": Daniel Browning Smith, aka "Rubberboy," claims to be the most flexible man in the world. And he may be coming to a ballpark near you.

Rubberboy, who amazed a crowd of front-office execs at the Promo Seminar by fitting into a box the size of a small TV, is the holder of six Guinness Book of World Records, including world's most flexible man. "It's like the best record you can have," said Smith.

He performed at roughly 20 Minor League parks this season, including Louisville (twice), Lakewood, Lake Elsinore, Trenton and West Michigan.

Rubberboy -- who can squeeze through an unstrung tennis racket faster than any other human and can pull his leg behind his back when he throws out the first pitch -- has made appearances in the NHL, NBA and Arena Football League. But he considers Minor League Baseball his favorite venue.

"I get so much interaction with the crowd in the Minor Leagues," he said. "It's family-oriented, and it seems there are more kids in the crowd in baseball than at other any other sports."

Like a Rolling Stone: On Aug. 23, Bob Dylan performed at First Energy Stadium in Reading, Pa.

Unbeknownst to the rock legend, though, Reading GM Scott Hunsicker had a surprise up his sleeve. Following the show, he waited what he thought was an appropriate amount of time -- about four minutes, he said -- to introduce the R-Phils' Mascot Band.

"It was great," Hunsicker said, "we still had 7,000 fans still in park, and we sold 2,000 more beers." That is, it was great until Dylan's entourage heard what was going on and put the kibosh on the Mascot Band after only two songs.

"It only adds to the legacy of the mascot band," Hunsicker said, "that Bob Dylan wasn't comfortable enough with his singing ability to open up for them."

And the winner is...: It's becoming somewhat of a tradition at the Promo Seminar for Round Rock GM Derrick Grubbs to present his annual "Fan Appreciation" video.

The video, which runs only a few minutes, is a feel-good look at Round Rock and its loyal fans. This year's montage, to the tune of the Rascal Flatts, included footage of Roger Clemens' appearance at The Dell Diamond, as well as scenes of fans kissing, high-fiving, sledding and having an all-around blast at the ballpark.

"Every night is Opening Night for someone," Grubbs said. "Every night there is going to be someone in the ballpark who is attending their first game, and we want them to have fun and come back. It starts with the parking-lot attendants and ticket-office people and goes from there."

Careers: For anyone thinking of a career in baseball, the MiLB Promo Seminar was the place to be. Along with 30 presentations and social events, the seminar included a job fair for people looking to break into the Minors.

According to Jill Rusinko, manager of special operations for Minor League Baseball, nine job seekers took part in the Promo Seminar, and clubs submitted 44 open positions.

One of the job seekers was Mark Smith of Layton, Utah. Currently in the Air Force, Smith came to the seminar "to see what Minor League Baseball is all about." He passed out his business card and met with several teams to talk about his prospects if he makes a career change.

"This was a great experience," said Smith. "Everyone was so warm and open with information. This was a world-class act, and I'll definitely be back in Birmingham."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.