07/22/2008 9:27 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."
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League)
Moneyball Night, July 23
The Cyclones' "Moneyball" promotion has little to do with the book that elevated the front-office philosophies of Billy Beane into national prominence. Rather, it is an evening-long celebration of -- what else? -- money. The club is offering discounted tickets to bankers and accountants who bring groups of 20 or more to the ballpark, and these fiscally minded individuals will receive pocket-protector prizes after competing in contests such as a book-balancing race and the Bear Stearns limbo. Other events on tap for the evening include a Bear vs. Bull race, bean-counting competitions and the initial public offering of mascot Sandy the Seagull. It all starts at 7 p.m., when the ringing of the stock market's opening bell replaces the traditional cry of "Play Ball!"
Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League)
Political Correctness Night, July 23
Political Incorrectness Night, July 24
Our nation is divided. While some individuals go to ludicrous extremes in order not to offend any of their fellow humans, others steadfastly adhere to their Archie Bunker mentalities. Like any good satirist, the Spinners are mocking both extremes. Wednesday is "Political Correctness Night," in which the club will be as sensitive as possible. Positions will be referred to in gender-neutral terms (first baseperson, for example) and trophies will be awarded to everyone who participates in between-innings contests. The coin is flipped the next night, however, when "Political Incorrectness" takes over. Senior citizens will be given a designated napping area, and the first 250 women in attendance receive pink Spinners potholders to use while preparing dinner for their hard-working husbands. I have barely scratched the surface of these dueling promotional endeavors. For more information, click here.
South Bend Silver Hawks (Midwest League)
Mustache Awareness Night/Hug Your Plumber Night, July 23
When fans, teammates and play-by-play announcers remark that South Bend's Josh Collmenter looks like he's throwing in the 70s, they aren't talking about the velocity of his pitches. (Read full article here).
Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League)
Playing as the "BruceClaws," July 25
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be playing a triumvirate of homecoming shows at Giants Stadium later this month, which are highly anticipated by residents of the Garden State. On Friday, the BlueClaws are going to tap into this excitement by playing the game as the "BruceClaws." The club will take the field in "BruceClaw" jerseys -- which feature a guitar overlaid atop the state of New Jersey -- and these special duds will be auctioned off for charity after the game. Springsteen's music will be played over the PA throughout the entire evening, a Bruce-signed baseball will be raffled off and a few lucky fans will even win tickets to see the Boss perform live. Talk about a "Glory Day" at the ballpark...
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Salute to Negro Leagues with Newark Eagles Jersey Giveaway, July 26
As the American League's first black player, South Carolina native Larry Doby holds a special place in baseball history. On Saturday, the RiverDogs will honor the Hall of Famer's Negro League roots by giving away 1,000 Larry Doby Newark Eagles replica jerseys. But an even better reason to come to the ballpark that evening will be to meet a pair of Negro League veterans, Larry LeGrande and Clifford Layton. LeGrande spent years on the barnstorming circuit with the legendary Satchel Paige, while Layton once suited up for the New York Black Yankees. Both clubs will wear Negro League jerseys during the game, with the RiverDogs representing the Newark Eagles and the Hickory CrawDads representing the Homestead Grays.
Lancaster JetHawks (California League)
Tattered Red Sox Jersey T-Shirt Giveaway, July 26
The JetHawks are already responsible for the season's most high-end giveaway (skateboards) as well the most surreal (Big Poppy bobbleheads). On Saturday, the Class A Advanced Red Sox affiliate continues its run of unprecedented promotions with a "Tattered Red Sox Jersey T-Shirt Giveaway." These items were produced in honor of the David Ortiz jersey that construction worker Gino Castignoli buried in the new Yankee Stadium and are blemished with markings, dirt stains and various rips and tears. On the back, the following Yankee-baiting message is clearly visible: "The Lancaster JetHawks Salute Red Sox Nation's Contribution to the Construction of the New Yankee Stadium." Additionally, the club will be giving away pieces of concrete autographed by JetHawks players throughout the evening. Take that, New York.
Stockton Ports (California League)
Raiders Nation Night, July 26
It hardly seems possible, but football season is nearly upon us. Stockton's NFL team of choice is most decidedly the Oakland Raiders, and not even last year's 4-12 showing can diminish the enthusiasm the region feels for this venerable franchise. On Saturday, the Ports will help people get ready for some football by staging their jam-packed "Raiders Nation Night." The Raider-ettes dance team will perform throughout the evening; a pregame Pass, Kick and Punt competition will take place on the field; and the Raiders' three Super Bowl trophies will be displayed on the concourse. Several local Raiders fan clubs will be in attendance, and unofficial team mascots such as Gorilla Rilla will ensure a boisterous (and perhaps somewhat insane) atmosphere throughout the evening.
Erie SeaWolves (Eastern League)
180 Feet of Ice Cream, July 27
Kids attending Saturdays' SeaWolves game might want to hit the concession stands a little less than usual, because upon the conclusion of the contest there will be a veritable boatload of delicious ice cream available for consumption. As part of an intricate three-step process, the club will lay plastic gutter down each base line, fill the gutter with little bowls and then fill the bowls with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and cherries. Kids then line up next to a bowl of ice cream and endure several moments of anxious anticipation before the front-office staff gives the signal to commence eating. A feeding frenzy of delectable dairy product ensues.
West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest League)
British Humor Night, July 28
As someone who was blessed (cursed?) with the name "Benny Hill," I feel it is my duty to include the Whitecaps' "British Humor Night" in this column. With a special emphasis on Monty Python, the club will honor the distinct humor of our onetime colonial oppressors throughout the ballgame. Legendary sketches such as "The Ministry of Silly Walks" and "Twit of the Year" will be celebrated, and clips from British comedy shows will be displayed on the videoboard. And, in tribute to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," the Whitecaps' on-field host will dress like a knight while being followed by a lackey who claps together coconut shells. No matter what the weather, this will be a very dry evening at the ballpark.
Peoria Chiefs/Kane County Cougars (Midwest League)
Regular Season Contest at Wrigley Field, July 29
Tuesday's game between the Chiefs and the Cougars will be vividly remembered by all who participate, no matter what the outcome. The contest will take place at 94-year-old Wrigley Field and is believed to be the first Minor League game ever played at this legendary facility. In what is sure to be a strange and highly amusing juxtaposition, the Chiefs and the Cougars will be importing their Minor League style of entertainment to this hallowed baseball shrine. And why not? If a dizzy bat race can entertain 3,000 people, it surely can entertain 30,000. Finally, the game will be notable in that it marks the return of Chiefs manager Ryne Sandberg to the Wrigley Field dugout. The Cub legend retired as a player in 1997.
Bonus Coverage! -- Here are just a few of the many, many promos that I wasn't able to mention in last week's column:
Tattoo Night (Quad Cities River Bandits, July 17) -- In which a remarkable 28 people got a River Bandits tattoo on a visible part of their body, in exchange for a 2009 berm season ticket.
Hairiest Back Contest (Augusta GreenJackets, July 17-19) -- Well aware that it takes more than one day to crown a Hairy Back champion, the GreenJackets stretched out their competition over the course of three ballgames.
NFL Trip Giveaway (Clinton LumberKings, July 18) -- A lucky fan won a trip for two to Chicago to see "Da Bears" in all their glory.
George Shuba Appearance (Brooklyn Cyclones, July 20) -- The former Brooklyn Dodger outfielder returned to the borough to re-enact his legendary "Handshake of the Century," and also sign copies of his new book.
Earnest Graham Appearance (Fort Myers Miracle, July 20) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' star running back took batting practice with the Miracle, then stuck around to promote his charitable foundation, sign autographs and throw out the first pitch.
Create-a-Jersey Day (Greenville Drive, July 20) -- The Drive took the field wearing uniforms designed by a local sixth grader, who beat out over 250 other applicants in the club's first "Create-a-Jersey" contest.
20th Anniversary of 1988 World Championship/Rudy Law Appearance (Inland Empire 66ers, July 21) -- In addition to paying tribute to L.A.'s last World Series win, the 66ers hosted former Dodger speedster Rudy Law to the ballpark for a free autograph session.
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.