08/12/2008 9:11 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."
Akron Aeros (Eastern League)
NASCAR Night w/Kurt Busch, Aug. 13
From the "Things That Make You Go Vroom" department comes Wednesday's "NASCAR Night" promotion in Akron, featuring an appearance by the mighty Kurt Busch. The 30-year-old speedster will visit Canal Park to sign autographs and throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge show car will be displayed on the stadium concourse. Additionally, the first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a NASCAR driver poster, and racing memorabilia will be awarded to lucky fans throughout what is sure to be a fast-moving evening.
Casper Ghosts (Pioneer League)
Tom Browning Bobblehead Giveaway, Aug. 14
On Sept. 16, 1988, Casper native Tom Browning of the Cincinnati Reds became the 12th pitcher in Major League history to throw a perfect game. The Ghosts will honor the 20th anniversary of this historic achievement on Thursday by distributing Tom Browning Perfect Game bobbleheads to the first 1,000 fans in attendance. Browning will be at the ballgame, albeit in the uniform of the opposing Billings Mustangs. The former hurler now serves as the team's pitching coach, where he is schooling a new generation of pitchers in the fine art of retiring 27 consecutive batters.
Vermont Lake Monsters (New York-Penn League)
C.U.F.F. Cancer Benefit, Aug. 14
One week after Everett's "Jay Buhner Buzz Cut Night," another club is staging a promotion tied into the art of head-shaving. The Lake Monsters are hosting a "fund-razor" for C.U.F.F. Cancer (Cops United for Fighting Cancer), in which participants raise money by pledging to have their head shaved at the ballpark. Club GM C.J. Knudsen and several other front-office employees will get the full chrome-dome treatment, as will many members of the local law enforcement community. Regardless of hairstyle choice, the first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive tie-dyed baseballs as part of the club's annual "Summer of Love" celebration. Maybe some of the hippies in attendance will finally be inspired to get a haircut.
Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League)
Belly Buster Competition, Aug. 14
The CrossCutters' annual Belly Buster competition is a true endurance test, one that separates true eating champions from the merely hungry. The contest begins with 15 fans, each of whom has to eat a certain amount food over the course of an inning to advance to the next round. This year's menu is confidential, but in previous years contestants had to down delectable foodstuffs ranging from a can of kidney beans to three bologna sandwiches to a quart of chocolate. Clearly, this is not a contest for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, and that's just from a spectator perspective.
Omaha Royals (Pacific Coast League)
Ty Cobb Night, Aug. 15
It isn't very often that a team sends out a press release upon hiring a communications intern. But then again, it isn't very often that a club hires an intern with the name "Ty Cobb." The O-Royals added this fortuitously named individual to their front-office staff during the offseason, and since then his reputation has continued to grow. Ty Cobb-mania will reach its logical conclusion Friday, when the club stages a night in his honor. The not-quite Hall of Famer will pose for pictures and sign autographs, and it is rumored that one lucky lady will even win a date with him. And no matter what the score, that evening's contest is sure to be a "Ty" ballgame.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Parker's Mascot Showdown vs. the Phillie Phanatic, Aug. 16
The best mascot in the Majors goes up against the best mascot in the Minors in a battle for costumed character supremacy. Click here for full story.
Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League)
Salute to Kelly Pavlik and Bobblehead Giveaway, Aug. 16
Reigning middleweight world champion Kelly Pavlik grew up in the Mahoning Valley, and on Saturday the scrappy scrapper will be honored at a Scrappers game. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a bobblehead of this notable native son, who is currently training for a bout against former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins. The dolls feature a shirtless, belt-wearing Pavlik ready to defend his title against any middleweight bobblehead foolish enough to challenge him. It is almost too obvious to say, but this really is a knockout promotional item.
Vancouver Canadians (Northwest League)
Ladies Day on the Diamond, Aug. 16
The Canadians are making a special nod to their female fanbase with Saturday's "Ladies Day on the Diamond," a "fun day of A-Z baseball" for members of the fairer sex. The women who signed up for this jam-packed event will spend their morning learning the intricacies of the sport from Canadians' players, coaches and front-office members, including a behind-the-scenes tour of venerable Nat Bailey Stadium as well as instruction on the playing field. That evening, those very same ladies will put their new-found knowledge to use as they watch their Canadians take on the nefarious Boise Hawks.
Albuquerque Isotopes (Pacific Coast League)
Grand Slam Giveaway, Aug. 17
In the same way that "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" raised the bar when it came to the amount of money given away by a game show, the Isotopes' season-long "Grand Slam Giveaway" promo has set a new standard for Minor League prize packages. Twenty semi-finalists are still in the running for one of three grand prizes: a new house (courtesy of a local home builder), a Chevy Malibu (courtesy of a local car dealership) and $10,000 of furniture (courtesy of a local furniture store). On Sunday, each of these semi-finalists will be given a key, three of which will open a "treasure chest" good for one of the aforementioned top-tier prizes. The excitement, needless to say, will be palpable.
Tri-City ValleyCats (New York-Penn League)
New York-Penn League All-Star Game, Aug. 19
The ninth and final All-Star Game to take place in the vast world of the affiliated Minor Leagues is the New York-Penn League's annual mid-August shindig. This year's affair is being hosted by the Tri-City ValleyCats, an innovative club known for their wide variety of interesting mascots (Pappy Southpaw, for one), unique giveaways (mayoral bobbleheads) and delectable concession items (spiedie sandwiches). Pop superstar Eddie Money will headline a free fan festival on Monday evening, and the following afternoon recent Hall of Fame inductee Goose Gossage will be the keynote speaker at a special All-Star luncheon. Completing this triumvirate of special events will be the game itself, a contest that promises to be more special than an Eddie Money concert and a Goose Gossage speech combined.
Bonus Coverage! Apparently there are more than 10 promotions in the Minor Leagues each week. Here are some that weren't in last week's column, but could have been:
Interns Run the Show (Charleston RiverDogs, Aug. 6) -- The RiverDogs' interns need jobs, so the club assisted in this manner by having them hand out their resumes at the front gate.
Jamaican Me Crazy Night (Stockton Ports, Aug. 6) -- Any promo featuring a groan-inducing pun in its title is a winner in my book.
"What Women Want" Ladies Night -- (Hudson Valley Renegades, Aug. 7) -- Well, I'm glad somebody finally figured it out.
Big Lebowski Night (Wilmington Blue Rocks, Aug. 9) -- It's a guarantee that no Eagles songs were played over the PA during this special evening.
Saturday Night Live Night (Bowie Baysox, Aug. 9) -- The Baysox saluted the enduring sketch show with video clips, concession stand specials and appearances by a wide variety of characters who were able to somehow turn a one-joke premise into an entire movie.
Frogstock (Everett Aquasox, Aug. 9) -- I'm guessing this was some counter-cultural music festival with a decidedly amphibian twist.
Wingfest (Vero Beach Devil Rays, Aug. 9) -- Congratulations to the Clubhouse Bar and Grill for winning the Golden Wing Chicken Trophy.
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.