05/26/2009 10:00 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Teams roll out classics from Rickwood to Crazy Vendor tributes
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 email@example.com with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Birmingham Barons (Southern League)
14th Annual Rickwood Classic, May 27
Birmingham's Rickwood Field, which served as the Barons' home from 1910-87, is the oldest professional baseball stadium in the United States. Since 1996, the Barons have returned to their old digs for the "Rickwood Classic," an event that allows the franchise to celebrate its long and illustrious past. This year's Classic will pay homage to the 1982 Southern League All-Star Game, in which the circuit's best players took on the big league Atlanta Braves. Both the Barons and the visiting Mississippi Braves will wear 1982 throwback uniforms, and these one-time only duds will be auctioned off after the game. Atlanta Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren threw out the first pitch at the 1982 contest, and he'll do the honors again prior to this year's Classic.
Gwinnett Braves (International League)
I Hate to Admit It ... But I Like It, May 28
Catharsis and emotional cleansing will be part of the game day experience in Gwinnett County on Thursday, as the G-Braves are giving fans the chance to indulge their guilty pleasures in a non-judgmental setting. Many of the between-inning games and contests will be modeled after popular game shows, with the contestants receiving prizes such as Spam, the National Enquirer and DVDs of movies that fall into the category of "so bad they're good." The afternoon's theme will extend to the concession stands, as specials for the afternoon include double cheeseburgers, fried Twinkies and ice cream-topped funnel cakes. So put aside that nagging sense of shame and just enjoy yourself -- life's too short to worry about silly things such as decorum and self-discipline.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
Salute to Punctuation Night, May 28
The Pelicans are the middle school English teachers of the Carolina League, perpetually hung up on the nuances of grammar. Therefore, the club's deeply ingrained sense of propriety was offended when the Winston-Salem franchise changed its name to the "Dash." This is because the punctuation separating Winston and Salem is, in actuality, a hyphen. On Thursday, the Pelicans play against the so-called Dash, and throughout the game they will take great pains to be grammatically correct at all times. (They are even considering calling their opponents the Winston Hyphen Salem Dash). In order to put an exclamation mark on the proceedings, staff members will sport t-shirts featuring different types of punctuation. And who knows? Maybe they'll play "Comma Chameleon" over the PA.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Sunglasses at Night World Record Attempt, May 29
Another year, another Baysox world record attempt. In recent years, the club has attempted to set records for simultaneous teeth brushing, whoopee cushion sitting, yo-yoing, and kazoo playing (important endeavors, all). The club will branch out into uncharted waters Friday by attempting to set the world record for most people wearing sunglasses at night (Corey Hart must be so proud). The first 1,000 fans in attendance receive (what else?) a complimentary pair of sunglasses, but particularly style-conscious individuals are more than welcome to bring their own. Unfortunately, I am unable to determine what the current world record is for wearing sunglasses at night. I'm writing this on a holiday, so the internet doesn't contain as much information as usual.
Hagerstown Suns (South Atlantic League)
Blue Devil Night, May 29
The business of Minor League Baseball is nothing if not local, so it makes sense that teams often schedule promotions that celebrate nearby civic and cultural institutions. Case in point -- on Friday the Suns will be staging a night in honor of nearby Greencastle-Antrim High School. The first 800 fans in attendance receive bobbleheads featuring the Blue Devil school mascot, a student will sing the national anthem and a member of the baseball team will throw out the first pitch. The Blue Devil himself will be in attendance, doing whatever it is that blue devils do. I can't say really, as I've never come across a member of that devil species before.
Memphis Redbirds (Pacific Coast League)
Nostalgia Night No. 1 with Tim McCarver Stadium Replica Giveaway, May 29
From 1968-1999, Memphis' professional baseball team played in Tim McCarver Stadium. This lovely facility was named after the current Fox baseball broadcaster, who had done the city proud by making it to the Major Leagues. On Friday, the RedBirds will pay tribute to this era of Memphis baseball history by giving away miniature replicas of the improbably monikered facility. Additionally, the RedBirds will suit up in vintage Memphis Chicks uniforms. Perhaps this stylish throwback attire will help the team's single ballplayers pick up some Memphis chicks after the game.
Indianapolis Indians (International League)
Dancin' BBoy McCoy Performance, May 30
I haven't taken the time to feature many touring performers in this column, but as a newcomer to the Minor League scene, Dancin' BBoy McCoy deserves a mention. This limber-limbed individual will be visiting Indianapolis on Saturday, and he's sure to amaze the crowd with his lock-step mechanical dance routines. Seriously, when this guy starts busting moves, he's more machine than man. Someone should check to make sure he's not a robot, actually. Anyone else remember the TV show, "Small Wonder"? Why couldn't that happen in real life?
Reading Phillies (Eastern League)
Crazy Hot Dog Vendor T-Shirt, May 31
The Reading Phillies baseball universe is populated by a wide variety of zany characters, but the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor towers above the rest. During each and every game, this ostrich-riding lunatic storms onto the field and pelts the fans with complimentary frankfurters. His act has proven so popular that a cottage industry has sprung up around him. The R-Phils are giving away Crazy Hot Dog Vendor T-Shirts to the first 2,000 children in attendance at Sunday's game, but there's more where that came from. Other giveaways on tap this season include Crazy Hot Dog Vendor lunch boxes, pillowcases, piggy banks and laundry hampers. Not since Obama was elected President has one man's image been so ubiquitous.
Portland Sea Dogs (Eastern League)
Performance by Tom Sadge-Neil Diamond Impersonator, June 1
Last week I featured an Elvis impersonator in Jacksonville. Keeping with that theme, let's travel to Portland (Maine, as I don't have the money to get out to Oregon). On Monday, the Sea Dogs will be hosting inimitable Neil Diamond imitator Tom Sadge at Hadlock Stadium. The Sea Dogs are a Red Sox affiliate, so "Sweet Caroline" will certainly be part of the set list (for better or for worse). If anyone reading this column ends up in attendance at this game, do me a favor and shout out a request for "I Am the Lion."
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
Italian-American Night/Ron Blomberg Appearance, June 2
Minor League Baseball is nothing if not all-inclusive. On Tuesday, the Thunder are holding "Italian-American Night" at Waterfront Park, but yet the evening's guest of honor is one of the most prominent Jewish players in baseball history. Ron Blomberg, who will forever be remembered as baseball's first designated hitter, will be on hand to sign autographs on the concourse during the game. It would have been nice if Blomberg had also been baseball's last designated hitter. In my mind, it was the worst thing to happen to the game in the latter half of the 20th century (yes, even worse than AstroTurf).
Bonus Coverage: Because I am nothing if not thorough, here are seven promotions that weren't in last week's column. The laws of time and space conspired against it:
The Duggars visit Arvest Ballpark (Northwest Arkansas Naturals, May 21): The stars of "18 Kids and Counting" (Jim Bob, Michelle and their 16 children) attended a Naturals game.
Free OJ Night (Stockton Ports, May 21): Fans received complimentary juice before the game. What were you thinking this was?
David Ortiz Bobblehead Giveaway (New Hampshire Fisher Cats, May 22): Another week, another Ortiz bobblehead giveaway. When will it end?
Appearances by John Candeleria and Steve Blass (Altoona Curve, May 22-23): Former Pittsburgh Pirate World Series heroes are always welcome at Blair County Ballpark.
Christmas in May (Omaha Royals, May 23): Santa was on hand, as well as Salvation Army bell ringers. The pregame buffet included smoked ham, turkey, green bean casserole and rice pudding.
Man vs. Food Appearance (Charleston RiverDogs, May 26): Adam Richman, host of Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food," took on the half-pound monstrosity that is the Homewrecker Hot Dog.
Major League Getaway Day (Round Rock Express, May 26): In a truly innovative promotional first, the first 5,000 fans through the gate received a voucher good for an upcoming Texas Rangers game.
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.