Top 10 upcoming promotions08/11/2009 10:00 AM ET
By Benjamin Hill / MLB.com
Minor League teams are known for their game-day promotions. On Tuesdays for the remainder of the season, we'll preview 10 of the best for the week ahead. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature in the future, please send it to email@example.com with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League)
J.A. Happ Bobblehead Giveaway, Aug. 12
The IronPigs scheduled their J.A. Happ bobblehead giveaway in recognition of the young hurler's role as the ace of the 2008 ballclub(He went 8-7 with a 3.60 ERA over 24 appearances before receiving a late-season callup to Philadelphia). But as it turns out, their timing couldn't have been any better: Not only is Happ a National League Rookie of the Year candidate, but he is also coming off the best start of his Major League career (a complete-game shutout against Colorado on Aug. 5). All of this makes the IronPigs seem eerily prescient, as if they possess a crystal ball which enables them to give away undulating figurines at exactly the right moment in space and time.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League)
Elvis Night w/ Theme Jerseys and King-and-a-Half Appearance, Aug. 13
The Blue Rocks will be taking the field in special Elvis-themed jerseys on Thursday night, which the team's Web site describes in one word: gold. The jerseys may very well inspire the players to make like Elvis and stage an improbably successful comeback attempt, but there will be far more going on than just the action on the field. "King-and-a-Half" will be in the building, a two-person extravaganza featuring an Elvis impersonator of "regulation size" (King Karl) as well as the 4-foot-2 "Little E." This is quite literally the stuff dreams are made of, considering that dreams are often disconcerting and hallucinogenic.
Jamestown Jammers (New York-Penn League)
Top Gun Night, Aug. 14
"Top Gun" has been ignored at Minor League ballparks this season, most likely because it is currently languishing between the 20th and 25th anniversary of its 1986 release. But the Jamestown Jammers honor films on their own terms, not when society deems it appropriate. Friday, therefore, is "Top Gun Night." Staff members will dress as characters from the film, and fans are also encouraged to do so. Between-inning contests include a re-enactment of the famous volleyball scene, with Jammers-logo dog tags, sunglasses and aviator hats as prizes. Members of the Navy will be on hand in order to throw out the first pitch, momentarily turning the strike zone into the "Danger Zone." (That last line was so bad, it took my breath away).
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League)
Break a World Record Night, Aug. 14
Friday is "Break A World Record Night" at Arvest Ballpark, a description that naturally leads to one very important question: What world record will be (potentially) broken? According to the team's Web site, the team is attempting to set the record for "Largest Kazoo Rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame.'" Despite my meticulous research, I am unable to tell you what the current record in this category is. But what I can tell you is that City of Macon, Ga., failed in their 2007 attempt, and the Bowie Baysox fell short in '08. Will the Naturals be able to overcome this legacy of failure and heartache?
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Country Night, Aug. 15
Speaking of failure, heartache and the Baysox, Saturday is "Country Night" at Prince George's Stadium. It will be an evening in celebration of music's most forlorn and down-on-its-luck genre, highlighted by line dancing and a performance by the band Train of Thought. Also on the agenda: a cornhole tournament, hog-calling competitions and a between-inning contest entitled "I Think My Tractor's Sexy." As for what that one will entail, I have no idea. My guess is that it will be a nuanced exploration of the unorthodox and largely misunderstood feelings that can sometimes arise between man and machinery.
Bowling Green Hot Rods (South Atlantic League)
What Could've Been Night, Aug. 15
When the fledgling Bowling Green Baseball Club held a "Name the Team" contest this past offseason, "Cave Shrimp" emerged as one of the finalists (There were good reasons for this, believe it or not). The team ultimately opted for an automotive-themed name (as opposed to one that paid homage to sightless crustaceans), but on Saturday they'll be celebrating "What Could've Been" by giving away 1,000 Cave Shrimp t-shirts. In keeping with that theme, the team will spend the evening exploring the ramifications of a wide range of hypothetical scenarios. For example: "What would the world be like if Elvis was still alive? Would he be a fan of 'King-and-a-Half'?"
Lancaster JetHawks (California League)
Aerospace Appreciation Night, Aug. 15
The JetHawks' Aerospace Appreciation Weekend is a staple of the Lancaster promotional calendar, as it gives people an opportunity to celebrate the town's primary industry. The highlight of this year's festivities occurs Saturday, when the first 1,000 fans in attendance receive an SR-71 Blackbird figurine, complete with pilot bobblehead. For those who need a little background, let me fill you in. No longer in use, the SR-71 was a stealth reconnaissance aircraft that could reach speeds of over 2,000 mph. In addition to the bobblehead giveaway, three former SR-71 pilots will be in attendance at Saturday's game. Those guys are the real "Top Guns."
Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League)
Belly Buster, Aug. 15
The Crosscutters' annual "Belly Buster" promotion might be the Minor Leagues' most entertaining -- and disgusting -- food-related promotion. Contestants receive an edible item at the beginning of each inning and must consume it within the next six outs in order to advance. (While the exact lineup remains a closely guarded secret, I have been assured that it will begin with two hot dogs and end with a sleeve of saltines.) Competitors must remain in the contest area at all times (no bathroom breaks!), and the last man (or woman) left standing receives a VIP trip to next week's New York-Penn League All-Star Game. Runners-up receive parting gifts, although given the nature of the contest, it's likely they'll leave some of their own in return.
Greeneville Astros (Appalachian League)
Davy Crockett Bobblehead, Aug. 17
The Jammers may be celebrating a movie made in 1986 this week, but the Astros are doing them one better by celebrating an American icon born in 1786. In honor of Davy Crockett's milestone 223rd birthday, the club is distributing bobbleheads featuring the frontiersman in his trademark coonskin cap. But even more interesting is the fact that bobble-Crockett is wielding a baseball bat. Does this mean to imply that baseball existed at the turn of the 19th century? Have historians somehow overlooked this fact? Is it possible that the game was invented by Crockett himself? I suspect that all of our assumptions regarding the origins of baseball are about to be blown out of the water. The world will never be the same.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
"Green" All-Star Game, Aug. 18
The final All-Star Game to take place in Minor League Baseball this season will be the New York-Penn League's extravaganza in State College on Tuesday. The host Spikes are using the occasion to highlight the many environmentally friendly practices they have implemented at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the first LEED-certified ballpark in the country. Fans and visiting dignitaries alike will marvel at the waterless toilets, low-flow sinks, reusable cooking oil, recycled paper programs and more. Interaction conservation displays will be set up on the concourse, and those who travel to the game in hybrid vehicles receive free parking. Even the players themselves will be green, seeing as how most of them are in their first season of professional baseball.
Bonus Coverage: Because parting from my work-provided cubicle is such sweet sorrow, I'll go ahead and fill you in on a few promotions that could have been in last week's column. Could have been, but weren't:
National Mustard Day (Birmingham Barons, Aug. 5): Because condiments need love too.
Mascot Wedding (Orem Owlz, Aug. 5): "Hootz" married "Holly" in a stirring postgame ceremony, uniting the two (literal) lovebirds as costumed man and costumed wife.
FresYes Night (Fresno Grizzlies, Aug. 7): In which the inherent negativity of the Fresno name was momentarily subverted. Theme jerseys were involved.
Bruce Sutter Bobblehead Giveaway (Springfield Cardinals, Aug. 8): A marginal candidate for bobblehead enshrinement, at least if one is applying the exacting standards of the Bobble Writer's Association of America.
Bellies and Baseball (South Bend Silver Hawks, Aug. 9): The Brooklyn Cyclones staged the first "Bellies and Baseball" salute to pregnancy last month. Now the Silver Hawks have followed suit. If it happens once more we have a bonafide trend on our hands.
Reptileman Appearance (Everett AquaSox, Aug. 10): There are quite a few people who go by the name of "Reptileman" in this country (just Google it). One of these reptilian men made an appearance in Everett last week. But who?
Salute to the Peach (Gwinnett County Braves, Aug. 10): The details surrounding this one were fuzzy.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.