07/07/2009 10:00 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Chicken wings, liposuction and scary stuff on the way
By Benjamin Hill / MiLB.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."
Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League
Ladies Night featuring Liposuction Giveaway, July 8
Hudson Valley will hold their "Ball-free Baseball" promo on July 7, an evening-long tribute to women in which men are banned from the ballpark altogether (or at least until the game becomes official). One day later, the Scrappers are staging a female-oriented promo of their own: free liposuction! Interested parties were able to apply for this honor throughout the past week, and the team has chosen five finalists. The winner will be announced during Wednesday's game (as to how this winner will be chosen, I have no idea), and this lucky lady will receive a complimentary liposuction treatment courtesy of a local practitioner. This is one of the few giveaways taking place in Minor League Baseball this season that is designed to suck.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
Mountain Man Matt's Wing-Eating Contest, July 8
In 2008, a mysterious character named "Hillbilly Matt" emerged from the rolling hills of the Nittany Valley in order to give away used cars at a Spikes game. This strange individual now goes by the name of "Mountain Man Matt," and this season he has an entirely new agenda -- to stake his claim as the world's fastest eater of chicken wings. On Wednesday, Spikes fans will compete against one another in wing-eating contests, with the eventual champion moving on to face Matt himself. Maybe it's just me, but I think this promotion would work very well as the premise for a video game.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
Salute to Our Northern Neighbors, July 9
Perhaps the Pelicans have a valid reason for staging a tribute to those who hail from Canada. Perhaps they just picked the idea out of a hat. It doesn't matter, really. This is Minor League Baseball, a world in which nothing needs to be justified so long as it results in a good time. So why not head to BB&T Coastal Field in order to give thanks for Molson, Labatt's Blue and the movie Strange Brew? (Clearly, this is a "Thirsty Thursday"-related promotion.) The team will also pay tribute to Mike Myers (the comedian, not the situational reliever or the murderous psychopath from the movies), and rumor has it they may circulate a petition demanding the immediate extradition of Celine Dion.
St. Lucie Mets (Florida State League)
Michael Jackson Tribute Night, July 9
Tributes to Michael Jackson started springing up around the Minor Leagues almost as soon as the news of his death hit the airwaves. This was inevitable -- in addition to being a cultural icon, Jackson, like a baseball player, was known for wearing one glove. The events taking place in St. Lucie on Thursday are indicative of what's taking place nationwide. All players walk up to the plate to their favorite Jackson song, and the team's front-office staff will wear sunglasses and a white glove. Anyone dressed as MJ receives free admission, as well as those named "Michael" or "Jackson." And, perhaps most entertainingly, a particularly coordinated member of the grounds crew will moonwalk while dragging the infield.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Face Your Fears Friday, July 10
The chance to confront deeply rooted phobias isn't generally considered a strong selling point when it comes to promotions, but that's just the opportunity that the Baysox are offering on Friday. It's "Face Your Fears" night, and the team is guaranteeing that those who attend will be horrified by what they see. Cha-Cha the Clown will be roaming the stadium, terrifying those with a fear of heavily made-up circus performers. Meanwhile spiders, insects, snakes and other assorted reptiles will be displayed on the concourse, and those with a fear of heights are invited to climb the rock wall that will be set up in the stadium parking lot. Worst of all, those with a fear of Double-A baseball will be forced to watch at least nine innings of Eastern League action.
Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League)
Legends of Kentucky Bobblehead featuring PGA Golfers Kenny Perry and JB Holmes, July 10
From Muhammad Ali to Loretta Lynn to Hunter S. Thompson, the state of Kentucky has produced more than its share of notable natives. But Friday's "Legends of Kentucky" bobblehead giveaway in Lexington isn't honoring any of these individuals. Nor is it paying tribute to judge Louis D. Brandeis, engineer Casey Jones or TV journalist Diane Sawyer. This is because Kentucky's true legends are those who play golf in exchange for monetary compensation, and two such individuals will be celebrated as part of Friday's dual bobblehead giveaway. Take a bow, Kenny Perry and JB Holmes. The ability to hit a white spherical object toward a small hole in the ground makes you both true Kentucky legends.
Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League)
Gale Sayers Appearance, July 10
Over his brief but spectacular NFL career, Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears established himself as the greatest kickoff returner in history. Thirty-eight years have passed since his retirement, but that's not going to stop hordes of Bears fans from descending upon Modern Woodmen Park on Friday. Sayers will be in attendance, and the River Bandits' Web site helpfully explains that he will be there in order to pose for pictures and "hang out." Wouldn't you like to hang out with Gale Sayers? I know I would. My plan would be to intently listen to every word he utters during the evening. Then, if I caught him saying something that was incorrect, I'd shake my head mournfully and exclaim "Sayers, it ain't so."
Stockton Ports (California League)
Japanese Baseball Heritage Night, July 10
Pumpsie Green Appearance/A's Night featuring Archie Gilbert Bobblehead Giveaway, July 11
Root Beer Float Night/30th Anniversary of Disco Demolition, July 12
There's a lot going on in Stockton, so I've got to get right to the point. Friday's Japanese Baseball Heritage Night includes an appearance by Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama, who played for the Ports in 1952 before moving on to a long career in Japan. Pumpsie Green, a Ports alumnus who made history when he became the first black player in the history of the Boston Red Sox, visits the next night. On Sunday, the club pays tribute to "Disco Demolition Night," perhaps the most ill-conceived promotion in baseball history. Also, a gaggle of local celebrities will serve up root beer floats for charity, and the first 500 fans receive a commemorative mug. Whew, I got it all in under my word limit.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Scott McClain Bobblehead, July 11
A lot of Minor League bobblehead giveaways feature team alumni who went on to become Major League stars. But really, it's the veterans who make the most impact on the franchise, the guys who put up big numbers year after year but never get the chance to establish themselves in the bigs. These players deserve bobbleheads too, which is why it's gratifying to see the Grizzlies giving away 2,500 Scott McClain bobbleheads Saturday. McClain hit 60 home runs for Fresno over the past two seasons, representing a modest fraction of the 400-plus dingers he blasted over two decades in professional ball. A Scott McClain bobblehead on the mantle immediately indicates respect for the baseball lifer, and that's definitely something that they deserve.
Tri-City ValleyCats (New York-Penn League)
Henry Hudson Bobblehead, July 12
The ValleyCats have long been enamored with giving away bobbleheads of notable New York figures (last month's Gov. David Paterson bobblehead immediately springs to mind). They're taking this concept in a new direction on Sunday, when they distribute dolls bearing the likeness of famous explorer Henry Hudson. This historically themed collectible celebrates the 400th anniversary (the quadricentennial, if you will) of Hudson's famous trip up the river that would eventually bear his name. Back in 1609, bobbleheads were made of wood, and they usually featured the stoic countenances of local clergymen. My, how times have changed.
Bonus coverage -- Because the best way to celebrate the birth of America is by holing up inside an office and writing about Minor League promotions, here's a rundown of that which I could have included in last week's column. Could have ... but didn't.
Canada Day Celebration with Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano (Vancouver Canadians, July 1) -- Canada Day is every day if you live in Vancouver.
3D Fireworks Display (Lehigh Valley IronPigs, July 2) -- Because fireworks seem flat and lifeless otherwise.
Mystery Night (Wilmington Blue Rocks, July 2) -- No one has any idea what went on here.
Peter Bragan Sr. 86th Birthday Blowout (Jacksonville Suns, July 3) -- The patriarch of Jacksonville's most illustrious baseball family was feted at the ballpark.
Bill Buckner Appearance (Vermont Lake Monsters, July 6) -- All is forgiven.
John Gall Bobblehead Giveaway (Memphis Redbirds, July 7) -- Gall put up some big numbers in Memphis, but on Tuesday he'll be in the ballpark as a member of the visiting Round Rock Express. This will result in cognitive dissonance.
Action Photo Paperweight Giveaway (Trenton Thunder, July 7) -- Paper is better secured when held in place by that which depicts movement. A contradiction, yes. But true nonetheless.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.