07/31/2007 9:58 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
What's going on this week in the Minors?
By Benjamin Hill / MLB.com
Minor League teams are known for their game-day promotions. Every Tuesday during 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 "Promo Preview" in the subject line.
Corpus Christi Hooks (Texas League)
Jimmy Wynn Appearance (Wednesday, Aug. 1 vs. San Antonio Missions)
Rusty Hook Bobbletail Giveaway (Sunday, Aug. 5 vs. Midland RockHounds)
Hunter Pence Appreciation Night (Monday, Aug. 6 vs. Midland RockHounds)
The Hooks' Whataburger Field is going to be full of promotional activity this week. On Wednesday, former Houston Astros great Jimmy Wynn -- who hit 291 home runs over a 15-year career -- will appear at the ballpark to pose for pictures and sign autographs. Then, on Sunday, kids 12 and under will receive "Bobbletail Dolls" featuring inimitable (and not at all terrifying) team mascot Rusty the Hook. One day later, it'll be "The Night of the Hunter," as the club pays tribute to current Astros standout Hunter Pence (who played the entire 2006 season in Corpus Christi). Video tributes to Pence are planned, and autographed memorabilia will be given away. Best of all, $5 will buy fans a Pence t-shirt, a hot dog, and a soda.
Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League)
Dice-K Fuzzy Dice Giveaway Night
Wednesday, Aug. 1 vs. Brooklyn Cyclones
Lowell continues its remarkable string of appearances in this column, simply by staging yet another can't-miss promo. This time it's the "Dice-K Fuzzy Dice Giveaway," in which the Spinners will honor Daisuke "Dice-K" Matsuzaka, their parent club's premier Japanese export, by handing out 1,500 sets of oversized dice. The fuzzy dice feature Matsuzaka's number 18 as well as the letter "K" (for strikeout) and "Sanshin" (the Japanese word for strikeout). There is little doubt that these fine items will soon be spotted all over New England, hanging auspiciously from rear-view mirrors like the shining diamonds that they are.
Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League)
Cheerleader Night (Wednesday, Aug. 1 vs. State College Spikes)
Bald is Beautiful Night (Thursday, Aug. 2 vs. Williamsport Crosscutters)
Mahoning Valley's Eastwood Field will be a beautiful place to be on Wednesday night. On Thursday, not so much. See, Wednesday is "Cheerleader Night" at the ballpark. Pom-poms will be given away at the gates, but the biggest reason to attend is that the world-famous Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders will be in attendance. Adolescent boys take note: these beautiful ladies will happily pose for pictures and sign autographs. The pleasing aura created by the Cowboys' cheerleaders will quickly dissipate on Thursday, however, as it's "Bald is Beautiful" night. Skull caps will be given to fans as they enter the stadium, the careers of bald celebrities will be celebrated, and local bald folks will compete in between-inning games and contests. Talk about a buzzkill.
Palm Beach Cardinals (Florida State League)
Two Cents Night
Wednesday, Aug. 1 vs. Daytona Cubs
It'll be a cleansing night of emotional catharsis in Palm Beach on Wednesday, as the Cardinals are asking fans to "give their two cents worth." Upon entering the ballpark, fans will be handed two pennies. The stingy and reserved among the crowd will elect to keep this modest gift, but everyone else is encouraged to visit a staff member at "the opinion table." There, fans can give their "two cents" on any current event that they choose. Some of these eloquent treatises will later be shown on the video board, while others will be read by the P.A. announcer. The opinionated musings of Cardinal players will be also be shown, and the fan who spouts off the most entertaining rant will receive a fabulous, yet-to-be-determined prize.
Springfield Cardinals (Texas League)
Wednesday, Aug. 1 vs. Arkansas Travelers
Listening to baseball on the radio is one of life's most satisfying simple pleasures, an unsurpassed way to immerse one's self in the action and atmosphere of a ballgame. On Wednesday, the Cardinals will do their part to keep this keep this tradition alive by giving away mini-radios to the first 1,500 fans in attendance. These fortunate individuals will then have the opportunity to create a surreal night at the ballpark by blasting their radios at full volume throughout that evening's contest against the Travelers.
Casper Rockies (Pioneer League)
Opening Day II
Thursday, Aug. 2 vs. Idaho Falls Chukars
The Casper Rockies went a horrid 10-28 in the first half of the Pioneer Season, easily the worst mark in the Pioneer League. Everyone involved with the team would like to forget that the first 38 games of the season ever happened, so on Thursday the Rockies' staff will do their best to erase ugly first-half memories from Casper's collective consciousness. It's "Opening Night, Take Two," during which the Rockies will celebrate the fact that their record is once again 0-0. The evening will begin with Opening Day ceremonies, and Opening Day T-shirts will be given away. University of Wyoming football coach Joe Glenn is slated to throw out the first pitch, and an array of local celebrities will participate in between-innings games and contests.
Winston-Salem Warthogs (Carolina League)
Drag in Drag
Friday, Aug. 3 vs. Potomac Nationals
Throughout the month of July, the 14 male employees of the Warthogs' front office (including Wally the mascot) have been engaged in a heated competition to see who can raise the most money for the local branch of the Special Olympics. These fine gentlemen are going to be motivated by a little bit more than pure altruism, however. The four individuals who raise the most money will have the honor of "dragging in drag" during the third and seventh inning of Friday's game, meaning that they will spruce up the infield while wearing women's clothing. The four who raise the least, meanwhile, will be forced to entertain the crowd by doing a hula dance while decked out in grass skirts and other tropical accoutrements.
Sacramento River Cats (Pacific Coast League)
Dusty Baker Night
Saturday, Aug. 4 vs. New Orleans Zephyrs
On Saturday, the River Cats' will honor Dusty Baker, one of Sacramento's most famous native sons. After a stellar athletic career at local Del Campo High School, Baker went on to achieve success as a Major League player, manager and broadcaster. He has achieved so much success, in fact, that he ranks as one of the most famous people named "Dusty" to have ever lived. On Saturday, the River Cats will conduct a pre-game ceremony honoring Baker, during which many of his former teammates, coaches and players will pay tribute to his legacy.
Dunedin Blue Jays (Florida State League)
Bucs Tailgate Party
Sunday, Aug. 5 vs. Palm Beach Cardinals
As much as the people of Dunedin love their Blue Jays, it is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that rank first in their sporting hearts. On Sunday, in recognition of Tampa Bay's upcoming preseason opener, the Blue Jays are staging a giant tailgate party. Judges will wander around the parking lots of Knology Park in search of the best tailgate display (which must feature Bucs and Blue Jays decorations), and the winner will receive a pair of club-level tickets to an upcoming Buccaneers game. Even those who don't take part in the tailgate contest will have a chance to go home with some sweet NFL swag, as Buccaneer merchandise will be raffled off throughout the contest.
Vermont Lake Monsters (New York-Penn League)
Tribute to Montreal with Tim Wallach
Sunday, Aug. 5 vs. Tri-City ValleyCats
Before changing their name to the Lake Monsters prior to the 2006 season, Vermont's New York-Penn League franchise was the last team in all of professional baseball to be called the "Expos." The club is still mindful of its Quebec roots, however, and each season hosts a former big-league Expo as part of "Tribute to Montreal" night. This year's guest is Tim Wallach, who played 13 seasons in Montreal and ranks first all-time in games (1,767), hits (1,694), total bases (2,728), RBIs (905), and, of course, our hearts. On Sunday, Wallach will pose for pictures and sign autographs while charming all who come into contact with him. That's the Wallach way.
There are so many promotions taking place this time of year that some gems will inevitably slip through the cracks. Here's brief rundown of some promos that didn't quite make it into last week's column, but could or should have:
Denny McLain Apearance (Harrisburg, July 25) -- In which McClain signed autographs and posed for pictures in order to promote his new autobiography.
Simpsons Night (Chattanooga, July 29) -- Many Minor League teams conducted a Simpsons-related promo over the past week, but the Lookouts get a mention solely because their mascot's name is Homer.
Frank Tanana Appearance (Rancho Cucamonga, July 29) -- In which a pitcher with a funny name visited a city with a funny name.
Used Car Night (Tri-City ValleyCats, July 29) -- There is perhaps nothing better than winning a pre-owned automobile at a Minor League Baseball game.
Mike Lowell Spinners (Lowell, July 30) -- For one special evening, the Lowell Spinners changed their name to the "Mike Lowell Spinners." Bobbleheads of the titular third baseman were distributed to early-arriving fans.
Remote Control Dig (Vermont, July 30) -- In a twist on the now-familiar "Diamond Dig" promotion, men scoured the infield for the remote to a brand-new plasma TV.
Chris Chambliss Appearance (Rochester, July 31) -- Having a member of the 2,000-hit club in attendance adds a touch of class to any Minor League ballgame.
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.