State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
"Fuel Perks" Ticket Offer, Ongoing (through May 20)
Charlotte Stone Crabs (Florida State League)
"We'll Buy Your Gas," May 14 (and beyond)
Nothing slows America's roll quite like inordinately expensive gasoline prices, but fortunately Minor League teams are doing their part to combat revoltin' developments at the pumps. In bucolic State College, the short-season Spikes are offering a $100 gas card for every season ticket purchased as well as a host of similar perks for fans buying mini-plans and group outings. On a more modest but no less thoughtful level, the Stone Crabs have put together the "We'll Buy Your Gas" package, in which $26 buys two tickets, two hot dogs, two sodas and a $5 gas card. This offer is good for Saturday's game (featuring special guest "Little E," the miniature Elvis) as well as various dates throughout the remainder of the season.
Chicago Cubs (National League)
Pete Vonachen Night, May 11
In the five-year history of this column, each and every writeup has featured a Minor League team -- until now. Peoria Chiefs owner Pete Vonachen will be honored during Wednesday's Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley Field, in recognition of his role in making Peoria one of the most formidable markets in the Midwest League. (Fittingly, the Chiefs served as a Cardinals affiliate before switching back to the Cubs in 2005). Vonachen will be feted in a pregame ceremony as Chiefs alumni from both dugouts look on. Later in the evening, Vonachen will have the honor of leading the Wrigley faithful in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." And now, back to regularly scheduled Minor League programming.
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
Folding Hamper Giveaway, May 11
Our nation's children are not always the best when it comes to depositing dirty clothes into an appropriate receptacle, but perhaps that's just because they haven't had the proper motivation. The Thunder are giving away folding hampers to the first 1,000 kids in attendance Wednesday, items that feature a large illustration of their scowling, lightning bolt-wielding, heavily muscled primary logo. Kids won't dare to throw their clothes on the floor in the presence of this character, lest they be shocked into oblivion by a debilitating atmospheric electricity discharge. The intimidating item is made possible by the fine folks at Arm and Hammer, aware that their line of laundry detergents can only be used on clothes that make it to the washing machine in a safe and orderly manner.
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Top Gun Night, May 13
A quarter-century has passed since Top Gun was unleashed upon the world, a high-flying embodiment of Reagan-era optimism that titillated and thrilled the movie-going masses. The Miracle are celebrating this milestone anniversary with Friday's "Top Gun Night," featuring model plane flyovers, trivia contests and giveaways, and (if we're lucky) a sand volleyball court at the stadium. Players will all receive their own call signs ("Slider," "Goose," "Iceman," etc.), and all ballpark music will be from the film's multi-platinum soundtrack. Like a night with Maverick, this promotion is sure to take your breath away.
Hickory Crawdads (South Atlantic League)
Kane County Cougars (Midwest League)
Halfway to Halloween, May 13-14
Halloween- and Friday the 13th-themed promotions are being staged across the Minor League landscape this weekend, but I'm including the Cougars and Crawdads because, well, they sent me emails. Kane County's two-day celebration of Halloween's not-so-imminent arrival includes a pregame on-field costume parade, best costume contests and trick-or-treat stations on the concourse. Friday even includes a Halloween-themed fireworks display, because you can't spell "Boom!" without "Boo!" The Crawdads, meanwhile, are staging on-field contests such as the "Mummy Wrap" and "Guess the Boogeyman," and all fans arriving at the game in costume receive free admission.
Mississippi Braves (Southern League)
Chik-Fil-A Get Fired Up Night, May 12
Almost Halfway to Thanksgiving, May 15
When it comes to bizarre ballpark guests, very few are able to top the Chik-Fil-A Spicy Firefighter "Eat Mor Chikin" cow. This heat-seeking bovine, who relentlessly advocates for the mass slaughter of a species other than its own, will be in attendance at Thursday's M-Braves game. The first 2,000 fans receive Chik-Fil-A gift cards, while 350 get a Spicy Firefighter plush doll. The focus turns to turkey three nights later, as the M-Braves once again prove that Minor League teams are capable of celebrating just about any holiday at just about any time. It's "Almost Halfway to Thanksgiving" night, perfect for those who believe that tryptophan comas should be experienced on a year-round basis.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Ghostbusters Night, May 13
Perhaps the most obvious movie to celebrate on Friday the 13th would be Friday the 13th, but the Baysox are taking things in a decidedly more deadpan direction by paying tribute to Ghostbusters. Costumed fighters of the paranormal will be positioned throughout the stadium should any unwanted apparitions appear, and clips from the film will be shown on the video board throughout the ballgame. Many of the evening's between-inning contests will be inspired by the film as well, including (but certainly not limited to) "Peter Venkman's Table Clearing Challenge." This could also double as a slang term for coming to bat with the bases loaded.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
Harley Hat Giveaway and Jerry Lawler Appearance, May 14
A Pelican in and of itself is not the most intimidating creature, but what if said aquatic fowl is buttressed by flames? That's the look being sported by the Pelicans during "Harley Davidson Night," in which players will sport incendiary motorcycle theme jerseys while the fans are decked out in flame-billed complimentary caps. Such an atmosphere might make special guest Jerry "The King" Lawler think twice about who he's messing with -- bikers are decidedly more difficult to take down than cauliflower.
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Midwest League)
Stitch N' Pitch Night, May 15
Stitch N' Pitch Nights, an initiative of the National NeedleArts Association, combine two time-honored recreational pursuits -- knitting and Minor League Baseball. The latest club to go under the needle is the Fort Wayne TinCaps, who are hosting their first such event Sunday. All the knitters in attendance sit in a screen-protected area behind home plate, allowing them to socialize with like-minded hobbyists, watch baseball and knit to their hearts' content -- all at once. This afternoon of leisurely multi-tasking costs $15, and comes with food vouchers as well as a gift bag containing a variety of stitch-centric periodicals.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League)
Harry Kalas Bobblehead and Tribute Night, May 16
Longtime Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas passed away in 2009, but not before making a tremendous impression on the many fans that grew up listening to his soothing (yet easily excitable) voice on Philly-area television and radio. I was one such fan, and I can honestly say he did more to further my love of baseball than any other individual -- the players came and went, but Harry was a baritone-voiced constant. The IronPigs are paying their own tribute to the Hall of Fame broadcaster Tuesday, with the first 3,000 fans in attendance receiving bobblehead dolls featuring a headset and scorecard-equipped "Harry the K." What Phillies fan wouldn't want one?
Bonus Coverage: Because 1,345 words are better than 1,160, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but weren't:
Christmas in July in May (Lake Elsinore Storm, May 4): Coming next year: Christmas in July in May in April.
Stewie (From Family Guy) Appearance (May 5): Because who wouldn't want to spend their evening with a disconcertingly huge baby?
Kentucky Derby Night (Toledo Mud Hens, May 7): The first 1,000 fans through the (starting) gates received a "horse-themed giveaway." Neigh-sayers welcome.
Beach Night (Frederick Keys, May 7): Featuring a pregame luau party in lieu of merely showing up on time.
Girls' Baseball Day (Mobile BayBears, May 7): Team USA's Robin Wallace and All-American Girls Professional Baseball League legend Dolly White conducted a girls-only pregame clinic.
Celebrity Softball (Albuquerque Isotopes, May 8): The casts of Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight joined local luminaries for a slow-pitch extravaganza.
Return to the DAP (Durham Bulls, May 9): The Bulls returned to historic Durham Athletic Park, the facility made famous by Crash Davis and his bush-league cronies. Clay Aiken sang the National Anthem.