07/15/2008 10:00 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Previewing can't-miss events at ballparks across the Minor Leagues
By Benjamin Hill / Special to 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 the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Dunedin Blue Jays (Florida State League)
Salute to Superheroes and Villains Night, July 17
The much-anticipated Batman movie, "The Dark Knight," opens Friday and there is a lot of buzz surrounding the latest adventures of the Caped Crusader. The Dunedin Blue Jays are tapping into this excitement with Thursday's "Salute to Superheroes and Villains Night" promotion. Batman and a wide array of his archenemies will be in attendance at the ballgame and comic books will be given away to those who arrive early. The club is also encouraging fans to emulate DJ the mascot and come to the game dressed as his or her favorite superhero or villain. The best-dressed fans will receive tickets to "The Dark Knight" as well as the love, respect and, yes, awe of their fellow attendees.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Second Amendment Night, July 18
Promotions rarely get as thoroughly ridiculous as the Grizzlies' "Second Amendment Night," which celebrates the ways Americans can "bear arms." In honor of the Grizzlies' mascot, Parker, the club will be giving away 500 foam bear claws. This unorthodox giveaway is described in the Grizzlies' news release as "the same claws that reside on the end of bear arms all over the world." Then, of course, there is the right to "bare arms." In honor of that summertime tradition, anyone wearing a sleeveless shirt will receive a ticket discount at the box office. The storyline behind this exquisitely absurd theme night is quite a bit more complex, but my space is limited. I implore everyone to read the full news release.
Hudson Valley Renegades (New York-Penn League)
One Night Stand Adult Sleepover, July 18
Minor League clubs often stage "Scout Night Sleepovers," but on Friday the Renegades are staging a sleepover for those who have outgrown cookie sales and merit badges. In honor of the "one-night stand" theme, fans are encouraged to stand in the stands until the fifth inning, when the game becomes official. One-hit wonders will be played over the public address system throughout the evening and Renegades Media Relations Manager Rick Kubitschek (recently named one of the Hudson Valley's most sexy single professionals) will run his own kissing booth. Best of all, the club's beer garden will remain open until 1:30 a.m., ensuring that those who need some liquid courage will get plenty of it.
Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League)
Wade Boggs Elmira Bobblehead Giveaway/Superstition Night, July 18
Wade Boggs played for the New York-Penn League's Elmira Pioneers in 1976. On Friday, the Spinners will honor the Hall of Famer's tenure on the circuit by distributing Wade Boggs Elmira bobbleheads to the first 1,000 fans. Also, in honor of Boggs' notoriously eccentric habits during his playing days, the club will be staging Superstition Night. The nightly sub-eating competition will be replaced by fried chicken consumption. Also, a mirror-breaking contest will be held, and after each out it will be announced that a pitcher has a no-hitter going (until a hit is finally recorded). I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to what the Spinners have planned, but I am superstitious about letting a promo writeup exceed 125 words.
Casper Ghosts (Pioneer League)
Tim Ray Bobblebelly Giveaway, July 19
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Ghosts' Tim Ray bobblebelly promotion marks the first time such an item has been given away in the affiliated Minor Leagues. Regardless of the potentially historic nature of this giveaway, it is indisputable that a souvenir featuring an individual with an undulating midsection is an excellent reason to come to the ballpark. The individual in question is Tim Ray, the longtime "Voice of Wyoming Sports" and beloved figure in the Casper area. The dolls feature Ray clutching a microphone in one hand and a hot dog in the other -- the latter of which will no doubt soon find a home in his bobbling belly.
Kane County Cougars (Midwest League)
Pillow Fight World Record Attempt, July 19
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Last season, 3,085 Cougars fans engaged in a postgame pillow fight at Elfstrom Stadium, an impressive number by any stretch of the imagination. However, the club fell some 600 people short of setting the Guinness World Record for largest pillow fight, so this year they're gunning for immortality once again. Fans are encouraged to bring their own pillows, but a limited number will be given away to pre-registered participants. And for those who are worried about getting pummeled by these feather-filled weapons, fear not! The Cougars have thoughtfully divided the field into sections to "accommodate the various levels of aggressiveness among pillow fighters."
Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
Helicopter Money Drop, July 20
Please Come to Altoona, Will Ferrell! July 21
No matter how exciting Sunday's Curve game turns out to be, it'll be no match for the action that's scheduled to take place at the conclusion. A helicopter will hover over the field to drop 1,000 $1 bills, and 10 lucky fans will take part in a mad dash to get mad cash. This is a good enough reason to get most people to a ballgame, but not Will Ferrell. Try as they might, the Curve have been unable to snag the comedic superstar for a promotional appearance at Blair County Ballpark. On Monday, they are letting go of their dignity and will spend the evening pleading with Ferrell to please, just once, grace Altoona with his presence. Perhaps Ferrell will be enticed by the fact that Double-A baseball is way better than "Semi-Pro."
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Competitive Eating Night, July 20th
Do you think you have what it takes to go head-to-head against eating champions such as Elizabeth "Rubber Gut" Canady and Ian "The Invader" Hickman? That's the question that the Baysox are currently asking their fans, six of whom will compete against the pros in Sunday's postgame eating competition. The winner of this "gut-wrenching" contest will receive a cool $500, while monetary prizes will be rewarded to the second and third-place finishers as well. The Baysox have not yet announced which food product will be competitively consumed during the contest, but such specifics are secondary to the sheer joy that inevitably results from watching eating gladiators fill their stomachs to maximum capacity.
Greensboro Grasshoppers (South Atlantic League)
Christmas in July, July 22
The pageantry and tradition associated with the Christmas holiday would translate very well to the world of Minor League promotions, were it not for the fact that Dec. 25 occurs in the heart of the offseason. The Grasshoppers have overcome this seemingly insurmountable obstacle by staging a "Christmas in July" celebration, featuring artificial snow on the left-field berm, carols on the PA system and a rare midsummer appearance by Santa himself. The club will celebrate the "nine innings of Christmas" with a series of giveaways throughout the evening, the most impressive of which will be a piece of diamond jewelry provided by the evening's title sponsor. Remember fans, only 156 shopping days 'til Christmas!
Vero Beach Devil Rays (Florida State League)
Revolutionary War Night, July 22
Schools may be in the midst of summer vacation, but fortunately, the Vero Beach Devil Rays are stepping up to fill the temporary educational void facing our nation's youth. Sunday is "Revolutionary War Night," during which members of the club's front office will re-enact key moments from the war that played a pivotal part in making this country what it is. Fans will be left breathless as they watch the Battle of Bunker Hill play out on the outfield berm. Other highlights will include the trial of the treasonous Benedict Arnold, the Battle of Valley Forge and Washington crossing the Delaware. Many other surprises are promised in the club's news release, including "the possible late arrival of the French."
Bonus Coverage! -- Because too much is never enough.
Game Show Night/Pirate Night (Vero Beach Devil Rays, July 9-10) -- In which the D-Rays staged back-to-back theme nights of unrelenting quality and creativity.
Jewish Heritage Night (Trenton Thunder, July 10) -- Featuring a pregame concert by "America's favorite Jewish rock band" as well as kosher food at the concession stands.
Negro League Tribute (Memphis Redbirds, July 12) -- Several former Negro League players shared their memories during a free symposium between games of a doubleheader. The nightcap featured baseball card giveaways of these players, and both the Redbirds and visiting Omaha Royals wore throwback Negro League uniforms.
Ladies Night in Visalia (Visalia Oaks, July 12) -- The Oaks subverted the patriarchy by giving away lavender-colored baseballs to members of the fairer sex.
Fausto Carmona Giveaway (Lake County Captains, July 13) -- As the first Lake County alumnus to make it to the Majors, Carmona will always hold a special place in the hearts of Captains fans.
Quartet of NBA Players in Syracuse (Syracuse Chiefs, July 13) -- Adrian Griffin, Casey Jacobsen, Eric Snow and Samaki Walker stopped by Alliance Bank Stadium to throw out first pitches and sign autographs.
Pappy Southpaw's 99th Birthday (Tri-City ValleyCats, July 13) -- Now that's one old mascot.
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.