05/05/2009 1:55 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Teams encourage fans to tap into inner 'nerd' with sci-fi schemes
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."
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Nerd Night, May 6
The impetus for the Fresno Grizzlies' "Nerd Night" promotion is the release of the new "Star Trek" movie, which, to its credit, looks slightly less suicide-inducing than the average big-budget sci-fi film. But the Grizzlies, free-thinking iconoclasts that they are, are merely using the film as a jumping-off point. Their ultimate goal is to illuminate the fact that EVERYONE is a nerd about something. To that end, I would like to let it be known that I am a nerd about pinball, Weird Al Yankovic, Mad Magazine, Jack London, Black Sabbath, record stores, dive bars, Andy Capp's Hot Fries and Coney Island ... Any interest, ladies?
Portland Beavers (Pacific Coast League)
Rivalry Week, May 4-8
The Beavers, like most marine-based mammals, love a good rivalry. Wednesday is "Klingons vs. Federation" night, in which fans are invited to come to the ballpark in order to "see a live battle for world domination." Thursday's "Civil War Night" pits brother against brother, as the University of Oregon engages in a battle royale with OSU. Finally, on Friday the Beavers are putting cats and dogs up against one another in order to determine which species is the true fan favorite. Fittingly, hot dogs will be just $1 on this special evening, and fans will also be granted access to unlimited "cat"sup (after writing that last joke, I stood up and bowed in recognition of how it must have made you, the reader, laugh uproariously).
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Pre-Game 1K Race, May 7
The problem with long-distance running is that it is time-consuming and tiring. Thanks, but no thanks, am I right? Fortunately, the RiverDogs have designed a race for those who, you know, don't really want to make much of an effort. Their inaugural 1K race begins at the entrance to the stadium and ends all the way inside of it. Runners' speeds will be tracked at each .2 of a mile, and a water station will be set up at the halfway mark. Afterwards, runners will receive highly-coveted awards, (such as "largest beer belly") while enjoying a post-race meal. All this will segue into the evening's "real" entertainment, when the Riverdogs face off against Asheville. And, lest I forget, there will also be midget wrestling.
Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Grateful Dead Night, May 8
The Storm have just announced that seats for Friday's "Grateful Dead Night" have sold out. But don't despair, procrastinating hippies -- plenty of grass seating (a double entendre, I hope) is still available on "Deadhead Hill." During this special game, Storm players will wear tie-dyed jerseys, a "dress like a hippie" contest will be staged, and the fan who most looks like he or she is still living in the 60s will win a free shower. Afterwards, stick around for the mellifluous sounds of Electric Wastebasket, a Grateful Dead cover band, which will play a postgame concert on the Tiki Terrace. Hey, you know what I heard about the Electric Wastebasket? They really "shred!"
South Bend Silver Hawks (Midwest League)
Tree Sapling Night, May 8
Plagiarizing other people is wrong, but plagiarizing one's self is totally cool! With that in mind, here's a slightly modified version of what I wrote last year when the Silver Hawks staged this very same promo: In much the same way that a Midwest League ballplayer may eventually blossom into a Major League stud, a sapling has the potential to become a strong and majestic tree. The Silver Hawks probably didn't have such a heavy-handed metaphor in mind when they planned this promotion, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to make a belabored analogy. The Silver Hawks will distribute 3,000 saplings on Friday, which will go a long way toward making South Bend a greener and more oxygen-rich community over the ensuing decades.
Toledo Mud Hens (International League)
Bacon Lovers Night, May 8
When it comes to "Bacon Lovers Night," the Mud Hens are going whole hog. Fans will receive bacon-scented air fresheners upon arriving at the ballpark, and bacon-flavored sunflower seeds upon departing. The likes of Porky Pig and Kevin Bacon will be featured on the videoboard, while audio selections include tracks like "Pigs" and "Bringing Home the Bacon." Fans will have the opportunity to compete in "Lines of Swine" bacon strip distance contests in order to win a bacon prize pack, and will also have the option to order any concession item topped with bacon (get the cotton candy!). Of course, it goes without saying that the evening's opponent is the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Special Needs Baseball Camp, May 9
Thus far, the tone of this column has been rather snide and sarcastic (what can I say except that it's been a long day?). Let me change the pace up with the this one, as on Saturday the Fort Myers Miracle are hosting a special needs baseball camp for 25 area children with physical and/or mental challenges. The entire Miracle ballclub will be on hand to provide one-on-one instruction to the campers, all of whom will also be attending that evening's game against the St. Lucie Mets that night. "To hear stories from our camper's months after the event makes this one of the best things we do with Miracle Baseball," Miracle GM Steve Gliner said in the press release.
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
Mother's Day Brunch at the Ballpark/Pink Replica Jersey Giveaway, May 10
Sunday is Mother's Day, so I must now include the requisite Mother's Day promotion in this column. To do less would be uncivilized. The Trenton Thunder are going the extra mile by offering a special pregame Mother's Day brunch, which includes a wide-array of mom-approved delicacies prepared by the club's executive chef. In addition, the first 1,000 women 18 and over in attendance (be they mothers or not) will receive a pink Thunder replica jersey. The lesson here is that you can replicate a jersey, but you can't replicate your mom. Treat her well on Sunday, as well as every other day of the year.
Asheville Tourists (South Atlantic League)
Mega Money Monday, May 11
I usually don't include recurring weekly promotions in this column, but this one is pretty cool. Every Monday in Asheville, the first 750 fans in attendance receive an envelope containing cash (between $1 and $100), savings bonds, and various other prizes. Can't argue with that, but some serious money will be given away if that night's pitcher hurls a perfect game. How serious is serious? Oh, I don't know, how about $1 million (A-Rod's bi-weekly earnings, in other words). All fans in attendance would split this $1 million windfall should a perfect game occur (pray for a low turnout). There have been two perfect games in the Tourists' history ... you never know, it could happen again.
Iowa Cubs (Pacific Coast League)
Fan Batting Practice, May 11
There are many teams that offer a postgame opportunity to run the bases, but the I-Cubs go the extra mile by offering the chance to take on-field batting practice against a former Major Leaguer. That individual is one-time Florida Marlin Nate Teut, who now works on the team's sales staff. He'll pitch for a full hour after the game, giving fans the chance to take a few mighty hacks. Anyone who manages to hit the ball out of the ballpark receives free airline tickets to either Las Vegas or Tampa. Who would ever want to go anywhere else?
Bonus Coverage -- Here are seven promotions that could have been in last week's column, but weren't. I just can't do it all, no matter how hard I try.
Mobile BayBears (Southern League)
National Shrimp Scampi Day, April 29
I don't have the slightest clue what went on with this one.
Portland Sea Dogs (Eastern League)
David Ortiz Bobblehead, April 30
Marking just the 39th time that a Red Sox affiliate has given away a David Ortiz bobblehead.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League)
Wolverine Appearance, May 1
This might have just been due to the fact that Wolverine lives in Wilmington. Sometimes he likes to unwind at a baseball game.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League)
Kila Ka'aihue Bobblehead Giveaway, May 2
In order to receive the bobblehead, fans had to correctly pronounce "Ka'aihue" (note: not true).
Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
Pittsburg Jersey Day, May 3
In which the Curve paid tribute to the 1909 World Series Champion Pirates by wearing "Pittsburg" jerseys (yes, that's how it was spelled back then. The letter "h" was not invented until 1926).
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (California League)
Jerry Reuss Appearance, May 3
Contrary to what I believed as a kid, Reuss is pronounced "royce" and not "ruse." The backs of baseball cards really should have provided that kind of information.
Corpus Christi (Texas League)
Cinco De Mayo w/ Mariachi Madness, May 5
A full-on Mariachi onslaught! The band Mariachi Espuelas played a pregame set, the National Anthem, the seventh-inning stretch, AND took part in a wide variety of between-inning games and promotions.
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.