Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
Sponsors in Wonderland, Aug. 11
With all due respect to the hallowed sanctity of our national pastime, Minor League Baseball teams have bills to pay. The best way to keep ballpark balance sheets in the black is to find a sponsor for nearly every facet of the gameday experience, a concept that the Curve is taking to ludicrous extremes Wednesday. Pretty much everything that can be sponsored will be, from home plate (courtesy of a flooring company) to the baselines (a medical supply firm) and beyond. Those who spring for such one-time-only sponsorships receive 25 tickets to the game, an info booth on the concourse, scoreboard recognition and the opportunity to throw out a first pitch. To put it simply, this is capitalism at its finest.
Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League)
Man Night, Aug. 12
After years of having their needs neglected at professional sporting events, men are finally getting some respect. Wednesday is "Man Night" in Lakewood, a nine-inning celebration of the un-fairer sex. Those who order their tickets in advance receive special "Man Night" T-shirts, providing an opportunity to unequivocally express gender pride. A Madden football videogame tournament takes place throughout the evening, while a "Men's Expo" on the concourse features vendors from the fishing, fitness, motorcycle and automotive industries. It should go without saying that it will be "Thirsty Thursday" as well -- for is a man really a man if he isn't drinking discounted domestic beer out of a plastic cup?
Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League)
Tattoo Night, Aug. 12
Every year, more ink is spilled on this promotion than any other. Thursday is the River Bandits' third annual "Tattoo Night," in which local skin artisans set up shop on the concourse. Fans who elect to receive team-logo body art will be rewarded handsomely in the form of complimentary 2011 ducats, but the true reward is having a cowboy hat-wearing raccoon permanently drawn onto one's body. The team has its work cut out if it wants to surpass 2009's impressive tat total, as 42 fans went under the needle last season (an increase of 50 percent over 2008). Can this upward trend possibly continue?
Lynchburg Hillcats (Carolina League)
Phil Vassar Bobblehead, Aug. 13
Phil Vassar, a native of Lynchburg, Va., has enjoyed a considerable amount of success as a country music singer and songwriter. The silky singer has released five albums over the past decade, with two of his singles reaching the pinnacle of the country music charts. Therefore, it's only natural that the hometown Hillcats would honor this consummate crooner with his own bobblehead. One thousand such items will be distributed to fans prior to Friday's game, but unfortunately, Vassar himself won't be able to make it. The tireless troubadour is headlining that evening at the Fuddfest in Gleason, Wis.
New Britain Rock Cats (Eastern League)
Jonas Brothers Celebrity Softball Game, Aug. 13
New Britain Stadium is generally occupied by the Fisher Cats, but on Friday the facility will be overrun by a different breed of medium-sized mammals: the Jonas Brothers. These tween-pop sensations are stopping by to play a softball game against a team of ESPN personalities who call themselves the G.O.A.T.S (Greatest Of All Time). The free tickets to the event were snapped up nearly instantaneously, although it is uncertain whether this rabid response was the result of the Jonas Brothers or the ESPN personalities. Rumor has it that Connecticut boasts a large population of obsessive Trey Wingo fanatics.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Mascot Wrestling Night featuring Parker Bobblehead Giveaway, Aug. 14
Mascot bobblehead dolls aren't very unique, in and of themselves. But the mascot bobblehead that the Grizzlies are giving away on Saturday isn't just any old undulating costumed character. The item features the underwear-clad Parker the Bear in the midst of tearing off his clothes, just after finishing his famous "Evolution of Dance" routine. This boundary-pushing figurine is part of what will certainly be a memorable evening, as the between-inning entertainment consists of a wrestling tournament featuring area mascots. Bumping bellies shall abound.
Lancaster JetHawks (California League)
Aerospace Night featuring Robert "Hoot" Gibson Bobblehead, Aug. 14
The JetHawks dedicate an evening to the aerospace industry each season in recognition of the role that it has played in Lancaster's development and community culture. This annual extravaganza is highlighted by -- what else? -- a bobblehead giveaway. The 2010 recipient is Robert "Hoot" Gibson, a retired astronaut who has spent over a month of his life in outer space. This accomplishment towers over Gibson's more recent claim to fame, when he made it to the $1,000,000 question on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" without using any of his cheats.
Savannah Sand Gnats (South Atlantic League)
Fire Walk Around the Bases, Aug. 14
With all due respect to the other promotions listed in this column, none really come close to the sheer lunacy of what will be taking place in Savannah on Saturday. Ted Batchelor, a proud world record-holder in the category of "Longest full-body burn without supplied oxygen," will take a leisurely stroll around the bases while engulfed in flames. This scorching sideshow is scheduled to take place after the ballgame and will be followed (perhaps inevitably) by a fireworks show. Best of all, the team's press release states that one "lucky" fan will have the honor of lighting Batchelor on fire. It all adds up to the most incendiary evening at the ballpark since Disco Demolition Night.
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
Hot Dogs vs. Hamburgers/Free Melanoma Screenings, Aug. 15
The hot dogs vs. hamburgers debate has divided the country for more than a century now, and this long-running battle for bun-ensconced meat supremacy shows no sign of abating. Desperate for a clear-cut conclusion, the Thunder is taking matters into its own hands with Sunday's promotion. Both hot dogs and hamburgers will be served free of charge to fans possessing club or pavilion level tickets, forcing carnivorous fans to choose between the two. Meanwhile, in a totally unrelated promotion, doctors will be stationed on the concourse in order to provide complimentary Melanoma screenings. Minor League Baseball: Come for the free meat, stay for the potentially life-saving medical advice.
Orem Owlz (Pioneer League)
Weird Al Night, Aug. 16
On Monday, the Owlz will pay tribute to a man whose very existence has given meaning to a thriving subculture of parody-obsessed lost souls: Weird Al Yankovic. The music of this still-going-strong iconic American humorist will be played throughout the ballgame, with between-inning games and contests based on his music. As a student of Weird Al, I spent much of my free time last season advocating for just this sort of promotion to catch on throughout the Minor League landscape. Please read this blog post and then do your part to promote the three-decade discography of this pre-eminent polka-ist.
Bonus Coverage Because writing 30-word blurbs serves as a momentary distraction from inescapable existential crises, here are seven promotions that could have been featured in last week's column -- could have been, but weren't:
Competitive Eating Olympics (Lake County Captains, Aug. 4): To remain in the contest, eaters had to consume one item per inning. It began with a gyro in the first, ended with a banana split, and in between there was Spam.
Moskos and Sanchez Double Bobblehead (State College Spikes, Aug. 4): Moskos and Sanchez would be a great name for a law firm.
Whalers Night (Connecticut Tigers, Aug. 6): A bittersweet celebration of Hartford's NHL legacy.
Tribute to Rusty Kanokogi (Brooklyn Cyclones, Aug. 7): The Cyclones paid tribute to a local legend, a Jewish-American female judo champion who used to dress up as a man in order to enter competitions.
Frogstock (Everett AquaSox, Aug. 7): The team wore psychedelic jerseys featuring red-eyed frogs, auctioned off after the game with proceeds benefiting Camp Erin (a bereavement camp for children founded by pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen).
Collector Car Show (Dayton Dragons, Aug. 8): The Dragons lost their 19th consecutive home game, but at least fans got to check out a whole bunch of cool cars.
Dom Brown T-Shirt Giveaway (Reading Phillies, Aug. 8): Brown started the season in Reading, but he's now patrolling the outfield of Philadelphia's Citizen's Bank Park.