04/14/2009 10:00 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Guest appearances range from the Hall-of-Famer to turtles
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
Minor League teams are known for their game-day promotions. On Tuesdays for the remainder of 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."
Without further ado:
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Salute to Cooterfest, April 15
Those not from the southern United States might be baffled by the term "Cooterfest," and even further confused at the need to "salute" such a thing. But there's a sensible explanation -- "Cooter" is slang for turtle, and next month's "Cooterfest" (taking place in Allendale County, S.C.) is a comprehensive celebration of these shelled reptiles. This annual event is highlighted by riveting turtle races, which can be enjoyed while eating some turtle soup from the concession stands. On Wednesday, the RiverDogs will get their fans riled up for "Cooterfest" by staging a small-scale turtle celebration of their own. No matter what the specifics, this is one night at the ballpark that's sure to have a slow and steady pace.
Clinton LumberKings (Midwest League)
Fan Bailout Night, April 15
This season, "Fan Bailout" and "Economic Stimulus" nights have popped up on promotional schedules throughout the Minor Leagues. However, the LumberKings deserve special recognition for the sheer simplicity of what they are staging on Wednesday night: The first 500 fans to pass through the turnstiles will receive a crisp $1 bill. It is perhaps no coincidence that this promotion will be occurring on the day that taxes are due. Hopefully, the $1 gift from the LumberKings won't be the only refund fans are getting this season.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League)
Hawaiian Night with Shane Victorino Bobblehead Giveaway, April 15
The IronPigs, Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies, played their inaugural season in 2008. By that time, Shane Victorino was already firmly ensconced as Philadelphia's center fielder. But Victorino did log time with the Phillies' previous Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, which is reason enough for the IronPigs to honor the "Flying Hawaiian" with his own bobblehead on Wednesday. Really, there's no need to create some elaborate justification for a giveaway such as this. IronPigs fans are also Phillies fans, and Phillies fans love Shane Victorino. That's pretty much all you need to know, and it only took me 108 words to get my point across.
Delmarva Shorebirds (South Atlantic League)
Rick Dempsey Appearance, April 16
When I was younger, I harbored a deep dislike for catcher Rick Dempsey due to the fact that he was once involved in an altercation at home plate with my hero Lenny Dykstra. But that was nearly two decades ago, and in the interests of letting bygones be bygones I will now promote the fact that Mr. Dempsey will be appearing at a "meet and greet" prior to the ShoreBirds home opener on Thursday. If you do happen to attend this particular "meet and greet," then please ask Mr. Dempsey why he felt compelled to mess with Lenny for me.
Bowling Green Hot Rods (South Atlantic League)
Laser-Engraved Mini-Bat Giveaway, April 17
Friday kicks off an exciting new era in Bowling Green -- an era that includes a Class A baseball team! The snazzily named Hot Rods are pulling out all the stops for their first home game, including a memorable team entrance in which the starting nine will be driven out onto the field by actual hot rods. But all memories will fade eventually, unlike the laser-engraved commemorative mini-bats that the team is giving away. When something's laser-engraved, you know that it's pretty much gonna last forever.
Tulsa Drillers (Texas League)
Johnny Bench Appearance, April 17
Johnny Bench, one of the greatest catchers in baseball history, will be gracing Midland's CitiBank Ballpark with his presence on Friday. The legendary member of Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" will throw out the game's first pitch while basking in the adoration of the fans, but that is not the true motivation for his visit. Rather, Bench's appearance is on behalf of the Arthritis Foundation. Ever since undergoing arthritis-related hip replacement surgery, the Hall-of-Famer has worked to raise awareness of this physically debilitating disease.
Kinston Indians (Carolina League)
Glow-in-the-Dark Beer Mug Giveaway, April 18
It might be a purely psychological phenomenon, but it's an established fact that beer tastes better out of a glow-in-the-dark mug. There's just something about that synthetic green hue that makes it go down that much smoother, making the drinker feel like some sort of futuristic space imbiber on a mission to relaxation. On Saturday, the Kinston Indians will do their part to bring this feeling to the masses, as they will be distributing glow-in-the-dark beer mugs to those 21 and over. Those younger than 21 are just going to have to keep making due with their glow-in-the-dark sippy cups.
Stockton Ports (California League)
Alumni Night with Don Belton, April 18
One of the 2008 season's more interesting Minor League innovations emanated from Stockton, where the Ports Alumni Club was established. Open to any former player or coach, this group seeks to preserve and celebrate the 66-year history of the franchise. On Saturday, members of the Ports Alumni Club will be recognized in a pregame ceremony, with pitcher Don Belton being the guest of honor. Belton led the California League in wins in 1946 and 1947, the only Ports pitcher to have accomplished such a feat. The first 1,000 fans will receive a photo of Belton, and the Ports will take the field in 1950s retro jerseys. Following established Minor League promotional protocol, these jerseys will be auctioned off for charity after the ballgame.
Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
The Long and the Short of It, April 20
Nine promotions into this column and I finally have the chance to write up a ludicrous high-concept theme night. That's the reason I got into this job in the first place! On Monday, the Curve celebrate the dazzling diversity of their Central Pennsylvania fan base with "The Long and the Short of It" Night. Throughout the evening, the team will honor the oldest fan in the ballpark as well as the youngest, the tallest as well as the shortest, and the biggest narcoleptic as well as the biggest insomniac (as usual, I made that last one up). The subtext of this promotion is that we should be able to overcome our differences and unite under that all-encompassing umbrella known as "humanity." At least that's my interpretation.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Pi Day, April 20
This Saturday is "Pi Day," an annual celebration of everyone's favorite mathematical constant. However, the always civic-minded Baysox were distressed that this year's "Pi Day" was on a Saturday, rendering school children unable to participate. Therefore, the club contacted local schools and encouraged teachers to stage their own Pi-related activities (including a contest to see who can cite the most decimal places). All participating students receive a ticket to the game, with the top finishers from each school receiving an on-field award. But the grand decimal-reciting champion will be honored with a Baysox prize pack and will also throw out the first pitch -- marking the first time in history that math was ever useful for anything whatsoever.
Bonus Coverage: Although I'd rather go to bed, here's a look at a few promotions that were left out of last week's column due to considerations of time and space.
Mr. Met Appearance (Buffalo Bisons, April 9) -- Because you're not really a Mets affiliate until your ballpark has been visited by a man with a giant baseball head.
Opening Night with Cal Ripken (Charlotte Stone Crabs, April 9) -- Cal is now the Iron Man of making Minor League promotional appearances. He has to own the teams in question, though. Otherwise, what's the point?
Opening Night Warm Weather Guarantee (Indianapolis Indians, April 9) -- All of the city's meteorological records were destroyed due to a freakish hot spell, so I'm not sure if Indianapolis had warm weather on Opening Night or not.
Opening Night with World Series Trophy (Lakewood BlueClaws, April 9) -- This was a vast improvement over last year's Opening Night attraction -- discarded league bowling trophy.
Dance Team Calendar/Throw Blanket Giveaway (Reading Phillies, April 9) -- The Dance Team doesn't need a blanket, because they're already hot.
National Pecan Night (Mobile BayBears, April 14) -- In which the BayBears proclaimed to their fans -- "Yes, Pecan."
Jerome Bettis Appearance (Myrtle Beach Pelicans, April 14) -- The Bus made a stop in Myrtle Beach, an appearance that presumably had something to do with his ownership stake in the Pelicans. Or maybe he just got a flat tire.
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.