07/21/2009 2:36 PM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
MiLB parks welcome stress-free fun, candy falling from the sky
By Benjamin Hill / 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."
Stress-Free Night, July 22
The Barons recently hosted the Southern League All-Star Game, a grueling and high-anxiety task. The club is now in its first homestand since that overwhelming event, so to recuperate they're staging "Stress-Free Night." Students from nearby Virginia College will be on hand to give massages, which leads me to believe that this is something they are striving to do in a professional context. "Nature Scape" and "Pure Mood" sounds will be played over the PA, and these soothing snippets will be accompanied on the videoboard by non-threatening images of puppies. Rumor has it that an Epsom Salt giveaway is also in the works, but as of press time this crucial nugget of information could not be confirmed with 100 percent certainty. Disseminate at your own risk.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League)
Splash Day, July 23
I just looked up Thursday's weather forecast for Manchester, New Hampshire, and did not like what I saw: a high of 78 degrees, with "scattered thunderstorms." Ideally, it would be 102 in the shade with not a cloud in sight, because Thursday is "Splash Day" at Merchantsauto.com Stadium. Staff members will be dressed up in all manner of aquatic gear, with ushers watching the action from lifeguard towers. Local fire departments will be on hand to spray down designated ballpark "Splash Zones," a dunk tank will be set up on the concourse, and water gun use will be encouraged. In all, this is shaping up to be the wettest day at the ballpark since Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
Baseball Mythbusters Night, July 23
The Spikes seem to be on an investigative kick as of late. They staged a "CSI" promotion earlier this month, in which they invited fans to help solve the case of "Who Stole the Mascot's Hat?" And now Thursday is "Baseball Mythbusters Night," an evening dedicated to getting to the bottom of some of the sport's greatest mysteries. The club's crack team of detectives has created videos that explore topics such as "Does a spitball change the velocity of a pitch?" and "Is it faster to run through or slide into first base?" The results, whatever they may be, are sure to shock and amaze. They will make you question not just your assumptions regarding our national pastime, but of the nature of existence itself.
Stockton Ports (California League)
LDS Night, July 24
Thursday is "Pioneer Day" in Utah, a state that neighbors California. That's all the justification the Ports need to stage LDS (Latter Day Saints) Night, a celebration of the Mormon community. In what is to my knowledge the second such promotion this season (the San Antonio Missions did it last month), the team will stage Mormon-approved activities such as a sack race, stick pull, and a Green Jello-eating contest. Mormons apparently cannot get enough of this wobbling fluorescent foodstuff, and I am grateful that I have a job that routinely exposes me to such fascinating nuggets of information.
Toledo Mud Hens (International League)
Visitors At Home, July 24
Due to inclement weather, two June contests between the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and the Toledo Mud Hens were postponed. These games, originally scheduled to be played in Scranton, will be made up in Toledo over the weekend. The Mud Hens, blessed as they are with an overriding sense of fairness, have decided to make the Yankees feel at home. During Game 1 of Friday's doubleheader, the front office staff will wear Scranton apparel, and the PA announcer will enthusiastically favor the Yankees. Scranton-centric clips will be shown on the videoboard ("The Office," anyone?) and a Mud Hen will even be designated the "Strikeout Player of the Game" (if this player whiffs, 50 fans receive free ice cream). Rooting for the enemy has never been so easy.
Indianapolis Indians (International League)
Windell Middlebrooks (aka "High Life Delivery Man") Appearance, July 25
Windell Middlebrooks, who will be appearing in Indianapolis on Saturday, stars as a delivery man in a popular Miller High Life ad campaign. In the ads, Middlebrooks plays an indignant everyman who takes it upon himself to remove Miller High Life from establishments and situations he deems too hoity-toity. The ads are funny, but they reveal a seriously hypocritical attitude when it comes to class differences in America. Just imagine how offensive the premise would be if it was reversed, and the deliveryman took offense at middle and lower-class people using his product? And what kind of deliveryman would go out of his way to reduce business, anyway? Can someone please visit Indianapolis and ask Middlebrooks what he thinks about all this? I'd appreciate it.
Hall of Fame Game Featuring Oneonta and Tri-City (New York-Penn League)
July 25 at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown
It's Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown, and as usual there will be an overwhelming amount of activity in the idyllic upstate burg. But not to be overlooked is the annual Hall of Fame game, which this year features the Tri-City ValleyCats taking on the Oneonta Tigers at historic Doubleday Field. I'm not one to get all weepy-eyed and histrionic (I'll save that for the talking heads in Ken Burns' Baseball documentary) but it really is hard to imagine a better setting for a ballgame. The contest will certainly be worthy of any and all glowing adjectives one can muster, so to get things going, I'll toss out a few: glorious, poetic, timeless, elegiac, poignant, and captivating. I'll let you take over from here.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Scott Van Pelt Bobblehead and Appearance, July 26
One of Bowie's most illustrious sons makes a triumphant return to his hometown on Sunday, as SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt descends upon Prince George's Stadium in order to be honored with his own bobblehead. The first 1000 fans in attendance receive an undulating likeness of the bald and bespectacled broadcaster, who will be throwing out a ceremonial first pitch, posing for pictures, and signing autographs. Van Pelt is the second SportsCenter personality in as many years to receive this honor; last year John Anderson received similar treatment from the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. At any rate, this promotion will likely receive coverage on sports blogs that purport to hate ESPN but nonetheless obsess on its every move. Get ready for a snark attack!
Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League)
Mega-Candy Drop, July 26
All I can say is "Wow:" upon the conclusion of Sunday's River Bandits' game, a helicopter will do a flyover and drop lollipops and Gummi Bears all over the field. Once the confections have safely landed, the children in attendance will take part in a mad scramble for as much candy as they can get their hands on (and don't worry, parents, the children will run onto age-specific parts of the field). Then, while the kids are gathering the candy, the helicopter will do a second flyover and drop marshmallows. This is literally the stuff dreams are made of -- for it to happen in real life is just ridiculous, and a rip in the time-space continuum may very well result.
Bonus Coverage - Because it is what you have come to expect, here are seven promotions that could or should have made it into last week's column:
Go Back to Ohio Night II (Charleston RiverDogs, July 15) - The RiverDogs personal vendetta against the Buckeye State shows no signs of abating.
Old-Timers Night (Staten Island Yankees, July 18) - Contrary to popular belief, the New York Yankee old-timers in attendance were not simply members of the 2009 ballclub.
Pregame Catholic Mass (Lake County Captains, July 19) - What's next? Confession booths on the concourse?
Crazy Hot Dog Vendor Pillowcase Giveaway (Reading Phillies, July 19) - My conscience will not let a crazy hot dog vendor-related giveaway pass by unnoticed.
Potato Night (Idaho Falls Chukars, July 20) - Featuring a two-ton potato on the back of a 1946 Chevy pick-up, a 37-foot inflatable Mr. Potato Head, "Spuddy Buddy" doll giveaways, an appearance by King and Queen Russet, potato sack dresses, and MUCH more.
Christmas in July (Birmingham Barons, July 21) - The promotion achieved greater legitimacy due to an appearance from a member of the International Federation of Claus.
Document Shredding Event (State College Spikes, July 21) - For seven hours prior to that evening's game, fans were given the opportunity to shred their sensitive personal documents.
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.