08/26/2008 9:21 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Attention! This will be the last "Promotion Preview" of the regular season, but this column isn't ready to go into hibernation just yet. On Tuesday, Sept. 18, look for an in-depth "PromoYear in Review." In addition to a chronological recap of all the promotional goings-on in the Minor Leagues this season, this article will include the 10 nominees for "Promotion of the Year." This coveted honor will be determined by fan voting and revealed in a separate article Thursday, Sept. 27. I already have a few nominees in mind, but feel free to get in touch with your suggestions. I appreciate any and all reader feedback, and am grateful to everyone who has gotten in touch so far this season. Thanks for reading.
Jamestown Jammers (New York-Penn League)
Salute to Imperfection, Aug. 28
The New York Giants and New England Patriots will be duking it out in a preseason game Thursday, and the Jammers are commemorating this meaningless Super Bowl rematch with "Salute to Imperfection Night." On this special evening, the club will pay tribute to the 2007 Patriots and other "imperfect" teams (such as the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-77) in a variety of ways. Every fan wearing NFL gear receives free admission, and mascot Bubba Grape will take part in a re-enactment of Eli Manning's famous completion to David Tyree. Also taking place will be a "wide right" contest, in which fans will attempt to miss field goals in a fashion similar to the Bills' Scott Norwood in Super Bowl XXV.
Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Intern Election, Aug. 28-Sept. 1
The Storm currently employ six interns, but just one of them will be awarded a full-time job at the end of the season. The club has decided that the best way to select this fortunate individual is by having fans vote in "Intern Election '08." The interns have been feverishly campaigning over the past month, lining the concourse walls with posters, making personal pleas over the video board and (occasionally) sabotaging their opponents. This knock-down, drag-out fight will kick into high gear Thursday when the voting begins. Each candidate will be given an inning break to plead their case, using whatever means necessary to get the fans on their side. This is democracy in action, and it's gonna get ugly.
Winston-Salem Warthogs (Carolina League)
Last Game Ever at Ernie Shore Field, Aug. 28
Historic Ernie Shore Field has hosted Carolina League baseball since 1956, but its long reign as a Minor League facility is coming to an end. Upon the conclusion of the season, the Warthogs will move to a new downtown ballpark, and Ernie Shore Field will become the home of Wake Forest Baseball. On Thursday, the Warthogs will commemorate the end of an era in a wide variety of ways. Ernie Shore Field picture timelines will be given away, and the ballpark's most memorable moments will be celebrated throughout the evening. Best of all, fans in attendance will be invited onto the field to take part in a celebratory "final pitch ceremony," complete with complimentary commemorative baseballs.
Midland RockHounds (Texas League)
The 2008 Screwball Awards, Aug. 29
On Friday, the RockHounds will be putting a unique hometown twist on traditional fan appreciation festivities. Screwball, the club's slightly off-kilter on-field emcee, is teaming up with the rest of the front-office staff to present the 2008 Screwball Awards. Featuring over a dozen categories, the honors include "The Meatball Award" (for the loudest fan), "Most Passionate Fan" and "Beer Man's Best Friend." Additionally, fans will be asked to vote for a wide variety of player awards, such as "Most Intense" and "Most Likely to Make It to the Show." But the evening's highlight might just be the culmination of a week-long dizzy-bat tournament as two champion competitors will battle for the honor of being named 2008's "Best Dizzy Batter."
Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League)
Boomer Bobblehead, Aug. 29
Mustachioed mascot Rusty Roughcut resigned from the Crosscutters at the end of last season to compete in lumberjack competitions. This unexpected move caused much anxiety among the club's fan base, who worried that such an icon could never be replaced. Fortunately, such fears were unfounded. For into the void stepped Boomer, a former forest dweller with googly eyes, a flannel shirt, leaves in his hair and an irrepressible spirit. In short, he is one of the rising stars on the mascot scene, and one of my favorite costumed characters in all of the Minor Leagues. On Friday, Boomer will take another giant leap toward celebrity status as the Crosscutters will distribute 1,000 bobblehead dolls bearing his inimitable likeness. Do not miss this.
Delmarva Shorebirds (South Atlantic League)
25-Cent Night/1983 25th Anniversary Celebration, Aug. 31
The Shorebirds are a longtime affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and as such make it a point to celebrate the long and occasionally distinguished history of their parent club. On Sunday, the Shorebirds will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Orioles' last World Championship with "25-Cent Night." General admission tickets for this ballgame are being sold for a mere quarter, and the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a No. 83 Orioles T-shirt. Unfortunately, the Shorebirds have no plans to follow this promotion with "20-Cent Night," commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Orioles' 0-21 start to the season.
Everett AquaSox (Northwest League)
Win Spyder Webb's Car, Aug. 31
In addition to being the AquaSox's awesomely named trainer, Spyder Webb is an exceedingly generous individual. How generous? Well, on Sunday, one lucky fan will win his 1995 Chevy Blazer LT as part of the team's "Fan Appreciation Day" festivities. Upon the conclusion of that afternoon's game, 1,500 tent stakes will be handed out to fans. Then, these stake-wielding individuals will be invited to dig up the warning track in search of the keys to Webb's ride. Any fans who attempt to smuggle a metal detector onto the field will be immediately disqualified from the contest.
Auburn Doubledays (New York-Penn League)
Abner's Plan, Sept. 1
Abner, the DoubleDays' visionary mascot, has come up with a three-part global warming plan that will be implemented during Monday's ballgame. First, 150 pinwheels will be given away, in order to harness the energy of the wind. Then, the club will offer baked beans at the concession stand, in order to increase natural gas output. Finally, "human-hydro power" will be utilized when the team's staff leads fans in the wave. From the club's press release: "The wind created by the standing and sitting of the fans will make the pinwheels handed out earlier spin and then a renewable energy system will be created." And, with that, yet another serious global issue has been resolved by a Minor League mascot.
West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest League)
Curtis Granderson Bobblehead Giveaway, Sept. 4
Given the uncertainty often surrounding playoff schedules, very few teams are willing or able to give away high-quality items after the conclusion of the regular season. Not the Whitecaps, who will be distributing Curtis Granderson bobbleheads to the first 1,000 people in attendance at the home playoff opener Sept. 4. While Granderson skipped West Michigan on his way to big-league stardom with the Detroit Tigers, the 27-year-old outfielder did play three games with the Whitecaps earlier this season on a rehab assignment. And what a wonderful three days it was.
Batavia Muckdogs (New York-Penn League)
Book Giveaway and Mark Kelso Appearance, Sept. 5
This column began with a New York-Penn League promotion that involved the Buffalo Bills (the Jammers' "Salute to Imperfection"), so it may as well end with one, too. On Sept. 5, the Muckdogs will welcome former Bills free safety Mark Kelso to Dwyer Stadium, where he will sign autographs for his legions of adoring fans. These fans will want to arrive at the ballpark early, as the first 200 individuals through the gates will receive a complimentary copy of "The Bills Are Due." Written by local author Rob Thompson, this book includes 15 interviews with three generations of Bills players. If Kelso isn't one of them, maybe Thompson can sneak in a quick interview when things are slow at the autograph booth.
Bonus Coverage -- Because it's so hard to say goodbye, here are a handful of promos that could or should have been included in last week's column:
Midget Wrestling (Charleston RiverDogs, Aug. 21) -- The Charleston RiverDogs ... pushing the boundaries of good taste since 1994.
Tattoo Night (Lake County Captains, Aug. 21) -- Thanks to this promotion, five individuals are now permanently branded with the Captains' logo.
Hollywood Screen Name Night (Altoona Curve, Aug. 22) -- In which all players were identified by their "screen name," which is created by combining one's middle name with the name of the street they grew up on. In that case, I'm "Gregory Walnut."
Mustache Awareness Night (Tulsa Drillers, Aug. 22) -- The Drillers' salute to upper lip hair was preceded by an online "Stache Off," in which fans were asked to vote on the best celebrity mustaches of all time.
Steve Kraly Bobblehead Giveaway (Binghamton Mets, Aug. 23) -- The B-Mets honored their longtime official scorer, who first made a name for himself in 1953 as the Binghamton Triplets' ace pitcher.
Salute to the Metric System (Fresno Grizzlies, Aug. 23) -- This educational evening was highlighted by a collectible 473-millimeter cup giveaway.
Wax the Max! (Casper Ghosts, Aug. 26) -- Unfiltered hilarity in Wyoming, as PA announcer Chris "Max" Maxwell attempts to perform player introductions while having his back waxed. Somehow, there will be "proceeds" from this event, which will be donated to the Casper Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
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.