Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
Livin' La Vida Lunch Meat May 19
It may sound like a decade-old Weird Al parody idea, but "Livin' La Vida Lunch Meat" is in fact the Curve's latest "Wacky Wednesday" promotion. This head-spinning celebration of "all things meat" will include a three-round, eight-person Meat-Eaters Derby, a pig-catching contest in which the participants' hands will be greased, a Canadian Bacon vs. Ham jousting battle and a turkey drop competition inspired by a memorable episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, in a blatant display of anti-pescatarianism, regular mascot "Al Tuna" will be replaced by Frank the anthropomorphic hot dog. And despite the Ricky Martin-esque title of this promo, the evening's musical selections will consist of Meat Loaf classics as well as an inspired version of Adam Sandler's "Lunch Lady Land."
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
Bark in the Park Night w/ Bomb-Sniffing Dogs May 19
Some promotions have become so common around Minor League Baseball that it becomes difficult for me to include them in this column without seeming repetitive. "Bark in the Park," in which dogs are admitted to the stadium, would be one such promotion. But the Flying Squirrels are going above and beyond the status quo with their version of this time-honored classic, as Wednesday's ballgame will feature Frisbee-catching superstars Skyy Dog USA as well as a series of canine contests (including smallest, biggest, ugliest and "most resemblance to owner"). Even more intriguingly, the Richmond K9 unit will be at the ballpark in order to demonstrate both takedown and bomb-sniffing techniques. Such an exhibition will make your beloved slobbering mutt seem underachieving by comparison.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Mad Tight '90s Night: The Remix featuring Alfonso Ribeiro May 20
The Grizzlies have made a habit of staging blowout celebrations of decades past, including 2008's "Totally Rad '80s Night" featuring Karate Kid villain Billy Zabka and last year's "Mad Tight '90s Night" with Dennis "Mr. Belding" Haskins from Saved by the Bell. They are once again drawing from that plentiful well of Clinton-era nostalgia on Thursday, welcoming Alfonso Ribeiro to Chukchansi Park. Ribeiro is best known for his work on the sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air, playing sycophantic junior Republican (and excitable Tom Jones fan) Carlton Banks. Ribeiro will throw out the first pitch, sign autographs, pose for pictures and participate in between-inning games and entertainment. Perhaps this will include a re-enactment of famous Fresh Prince scenes. The "Apache Dance," anyone?
Hickory Crawdads (South Atlantic League)
Tiger Woods Night May 20
The recent misadventures of Tiger Woods have been a comic goldmine for pop-culture satirists, but Minor League teams looking to get in on the act must tread lightly lest they compromise their hard-earned family-friendly image. The Crawdads seem to be striking the right balance, as Thursday's tribute to the philandering linksman includes dizzy golf club races, Wiffle ball driving competitions, free tickets to anyone with the last name of "Woods" and a special ceremonial first pitch from Eldrick the Tiger. There will also be a series of trivia contests related to Woods and his many promotional sponsors (or former sponsors, as the case may be), presided over by staff members wearing the devastatingly alluring fashion combo of red polo shirts and black hats.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League)
70s Night w/ Disco Baseball Giveaway May 20
The IronPigs have worked a trio of decade-theme nights into this year's promotional schedule, all of which are highlighted by a unique baseball giveaway. "'60s Night" featured a tie-dye baseball, and July's "'80s Night" will be highlighted by the prognosticating spheroid that is the Magic 8-Ball. On Thursday, the team will pay homage to an era largely defined by regrettable music fads and preening narcissism: the '70s. The first 3,500 fans in attendance receive unique "Disco Baseballs," glimmering orbs that bring to mind the dance-hall centerpieces that were so prevalent during the "Me Decade."
Modesto Nuts (California League)
Spam Carving May 20
Earlier this month, the Reading Phillies hosted their third annual "Spam Carving" competition, a phenomenon that has now spread to Modesto. In the Nuts' version, teams of two will be given two cans of Spam, two knives and 20 toothpicks and then asked to create a preserved meat masterpiece within a span of 30 minutes. Fans will have until the third inning to vote for their favorites, with the winner receiving a prize package highlighted by a night in a Nuts luxury suite. Even those who aren't artistically inclined can get in on the act, as Spam will be awarded as a prize to those who participate in between-inning games and contests. All in all, it sure sounds like one "Hormel" of a good time.
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Empire Strikes Back 30th Anniversary Celebration May 21
The Miracle are making a quick transition from Craig Sager to light saber as the May 18 celebration of the sartorially splendid broadcaster will be followed three days later with a salute to the 30th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. Home and road starting lineups will be announced by Yoda and Darth Vader, respectively, a reminder that each and every ballgame is a battle between good and evil. Scenes from the film will be re-enacted on the field, perhaps while making use of the Stormtroopers slated to be in attendance. And best of all, the team will be freezing a variety of items in dry ice as part of an absurd tribute to Han Solo's harrowing imprisonment within a block of carbonite.
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (Southern League)
Jared Fogle Appearance May 21
The Minor League Baseball universe is littered with giant hamburgers, hot dog eating contests, and all-you-can-eat seating sections, making it an unlikely arena in which to celebrate healthy eating and dietary restraint. Yet that's just what will be happening on Friday, as Subway pitchman Jared Fogle will be appearing at a West Tenn Diamond Jaxx game. Details are scant regarding this visit, but it is safe to assume that Mr. Fogle will engage in some combination of the following activities: first-pitch throwing, autograph signing and picture-posing. The incongruity of him doing this within a facility named "Pringles Park" should only add to the cognitive dissonance.
A Triumvirate of Unique Bobbleheads! (Omaha, Quad Cities, Portland May 22)
I don't generally combine different promotions into one write-up, but I'll make an exception for Saturday's bobblehead bounty. In Omaha, the Royals are celebrating their last season at venerable Rosenblatt Stadium by giving away a bobblehead featuring the facility's namesake: former mayor Johnny Rosenblatt. The Quad Cities River Bandits, meanwhile, have scored a bobble-coup and are offering fans undulating figurines featuring Stan "The Man" Musial (an individual who doesn't often allow his likeness to be used in such a fashion). Finally, the Portland Beavers will distribute an impressive dual bobblehead of intrepid explorers Lewis and Clark. The duo's cross-country journey ended in what is now Portland, Ore., a decision that some historians have interpreted as a calculated bid for 21st century bobblehead immortality.
Stockton Ports (California League)
Dallas Braden Perfect Game Celebration May 22-23
Dallas Braden, the most recent member of the ultra-exclusive Perfect Game Club, was born in Stockton and then went on to play for the hometown Ports en route to unlikely Major League stardom. Therefore, it's only natural that the Ports would go out of their way to celebrate Braden's accomplishment. The hometown hero will be in attendance on Saturday, receiving the ultra-coveted key to the city as part of a pregame ceremony. The festivities continue the following afternoon, as the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a poster commemorating Braden's Mother's Day gem.
Bonus Coverage Because I never want to be accused of shirking my duties, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been -- but weren't:
Chili Throwdown (Lakeland Flying Tigers May 13) I hope the chili was thrown down into something resembling a bowl.
Midget Wrestling (Arkansas Travelers May 14) Politically incorrect, or a brilliant subversion of societal stereotypes and expectations? You decide.
Pedro Alvarez Bobblehead (Lynchburg Hillcats May 14) In honor of the super-prospect who just might right the Pittsburgh Pirates' long-sinking ship.
Where's Parney (Richmond Flying Squirrels May 14) After every Friday home game, convivial Flying Squirrels vice president Todd Parney visits a local dining and drinking establishment. Fans try to track him down by following hints provided by the club, lured by the promise of free T-shirts.
Water Awareness Night (San Jose Giants May 14) Because H2O should never, ever be taken for granted.
Tribute to Frank Gilhooly (Toledo Mud Hens May 16) The Mud Hens paid tribute to a Toledo broadcasting legend, a man who once had his picture taken with Babe Ruth.
Awful Night (Brevard County Manatees May 17) Not to be confused with "Awful Knight", a mean-spirited unauthorized private press biography of Sir Lance-A-Lot.