08/04/2009 10:00 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Reading gives away bread (not money) and Lake Elsinore goes green (again)
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 email@example.com with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Reading Phillies (Eastern League)
Bread Box and Loaf of Bread Giveaway, Aug. 5
Pedro Martinez is going to make a rehab start for the R-Phillies on Wednesday, and I presume that many of the team's fans think that this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I presume this because it allows me to laboriously segue into the fact that Wednesday is also the team's "Tribute to Sliced Bread." The first 2,000 fans in attendance receive an R-Phils logo bread box (now there's a first), along with a complimentary loaf of Stroehmann's bread. Martinez has earned plenty of bread over a 17-year Major League career, so he'll likely have no use for these innovative giveaway items.
Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League)
Ladies of the Professional Pillow Fight League Appearance, Aug. 6
Over the past several seasons, a handful of teams have made the discovery that "Thirsty Thursday" drink specials and pillow fighting go very well together. The latest club to combine these two ingredients is the Quad Cities River Bandits, who will be hosting women from the Professional Pillow Fight League this Thursday. According to the league's Web site, "most anything goes in a pillow fight." There is, however, no "biting, scratching or hair pulling" and "deliberately compressing the pillow fibers to increase the density of the pillow is not allowed." Way to take the fun out of it, guys.
Chattanooga Lookouts (Southern League)
Mystery Bobblehead, Aug. 7
In the information age, there is an unhealthy compulsion to always be "in the know." But in order to truly find happiness in this life, one must be able to accept -- and even celebrate -- uncertainty. On Friday, the Lookouts are offering this meaningful life lesson in the form of a "mystery bobblehead" giveaway. The club has offered virtually no details regarding who will be honored in bobble form, outside of the fact that it will be a "venerable baseball icon." So take a deep breath, head out to the game and just be content with whomever this "venerable baseball icon" turns out to be. There's no use stressing out about what you can't control.
Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Going Green Weekend, Aug. 7-9
Over the past two years, "Going Green Weekends" have sprung up across the Minor League landscape like so many municipal recycling bins. The team that kick-started this trend was the Lake Elsinore Storm, who are staging their third annual "Going Green" extravaganza this weekend. In keeping with the theme of the promotion, I will conserve energy by providing a brief recap of what is going on: In addition to eco-friendly giveaways and theme nights, there will be a cornucopia of "green" informational tables set up on the concourse. Also, fans will also be able to obtain tickets in exchange for bringing two incandescent light bulbs to the ballpark. Now there's a "bright" idea if I've ever heard one. (That was a recycled joke, by the way).
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League)
Crazy Burger Challenge, Aug. 7
There's really no wrong way to assemble a hamburger, but all methods are decidedly not created equal. On Friday, the Fisher Cats are inviting area BBQ impresarios to participate in a pregame burger-building contest. The always-accommodating ballclub is providing all the ingredients; contestants just need to bring their creativity and flair for the dramatic. The burgers will be judged by local gourmand "Chef Nicole," who is like Prince, Madonna and Ichiro in that she does not require a surname. The winner will receive the immense satisfaction that results from a job well done, as well as gift certificates to local dining establishments.
Stockton Ports (California League)
Noah Bobblehead Giveaway, Aug. 8
Saturday is "Faith Night" at Stockton's Banner Island Ballpark, and this night of piety and devotion will be highlighted by a Noah bobblehead giveaway. The Old Testament figure is depicted quite cartoonishly in his most current bobble incarnation. With his massive beard, round face and sad-eyed expression, he looks like Santa Claus as imagined by Ziggy creator Tom Wilson. At any rate, this giveaway could lead to a third-rate Abbott and Costello-inspired comedy routine in which "Noah Bobblehead" is interpreted as "no bobblehead." Hilarious misunderstandings would then ensue, ultimately descending into uproarious slapstick violence.
Everett AquaSox (Northwest League)
FrogStock, Aug. 8
The Everett AquaSox already have one of the trippiest logos in all of Minor League Baseball, as it features a bug-eyed fluorescent green frog with an elongated tongue. Therefore, it will be a special treat to attend "FrogStock" on Saturday. The club will wear theme jerseys that push that aesthetic to further psychedelic extremes. In defiance of standard theme jersey protocol, these tie-dyed masterpieces can be bid on before (as well as during) the game. Proceeds from the charity auction will benefit Camp Erin, a bereavement camp for youth established by notable Washington resident (and current Phillie) Jamie Moyer.
Hickory Crawdads (South Atlantic League)
Celebrity Tribute Series, Aug. 8-11
The recent spate of notable celebrity deaths has resulted in a variety of disparate tributes throughout the Minors, so kudos to the Crawdads for bringing order to the chaos. On Monday the team is staging Michael Jackson Tribute Night, Tuesday is dedicated to Ed McMahon (complete with a "Star Search" competition), Wednesday will simultaneously pay respect to Farrah Fawcett and Walter Cronkite, and Thursday's game is in honor of master pitchman Billy Mays. Suffice to say, each tribute is chock full of games, contests and special offers related to the deceased celebrity in question. This cumulative effect is 36 innings of catharsis, giving fans the chance to say goodbye while also eating hot dogs and drinking beer.
Princeton Rays (Appalachian League)
1994 Championship Ring Statue Giveaway, Aug. 9
The P-Rays won their first and only Appalachian League championship in 1994, during a time in franchise history when they were affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds. On Sunday, in honor of the 15th anniversary of this memorable achievement, the club will be giving away replica championship ring mini-statues. This sounds like an exceedingly elaborate item, one more commonly found in the possession of archdukes, viceroys and other individuals of noble bearing. But Minor League Baseball is nothing if not a populist enterprise, so these championship ring mini-statues can be obtained simply by being one of the first 500 fans at the Rookie-level professional baseball game.
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Illegal Use of Your Ed Hochuli Night, Aug. 11
Muscular NFL referee Ed Hochuli suffered through a controversial 2008 season, as his questionable officiating became a sore point for many disgruntled football fans. Inspired by his high-profile miscues, the Charleston RiverDogs are staging the interestingly-named "Illegal Use of Your Ed Hochuli Night." A Hochuli-lookalike (really!) will roam through the stands tossing penalty flags for no discernible reason, and fans will compete in Hochuli "flex-off" competitions. Meanwhile, RiverDogs' general manager Dave Echols will take on all comers in a "sack the GM" contest, but rumor has it that these one-on-one matchups will be rigged in his favor. According to the team: "Expect unforeseen rule changes that happen to benefit the GM." Well, at least they're honest about their dishonesty.
Bonus Coverage: Because my conscience tells me I must, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column. Could have been, but weren't.
Catchers' Gear Backpack (Buffalo Bisons, July 29): Because the tools of ignorance don't carry themselves.
King Kong Bundy Appearance (Frederick Keys, July 29): Wouldn't you want to get your picture taken with a hairless, 400-pound, scantily-clad 57-year-old wrestler?
Omar Vizquel Bobblehead (Lake County Captains, July 31): Vizquel may bobble his head, but he rarely bobbles the ball.
Family Campout Night (Memphis Redbirds, July 31): Most camping areas aren't equipped with hot dog stands and souvenir stores. This one was.
Ice Scraper Giveaway (Myrtle Beach Pelicans, July 31): This would be the equivalent of the Minnesota Vikings giving away suntan lotion.
Phil Wellman Bobblehead (Mississippi Braves, Aug. 1): Unfortunately, this did not come equipped with a bobbling rosin bag grenade.
BBQ Tool Set Giveaway (Williamsport Crosscutters, Aug. 4): A house isn't a home without a team logo spatula. Heloise said that.
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.