The Quad Cities River Bandits will soon return to the field where they won the Midwest League Championship in two of the last three years. The team announced on Thursday it will celebrate those championships, as well as its second year of an affiliation with the Houston Astros, with a super-sized 2014 lineup of always-popular bobblehead giveaways.
Over the span of weekend home games from May 24 to the end of the season, the Midwest League club will give away six bobbleheads, a gnome and the team's first-ever Bobble Truck. The River Bandits will open and close their bobblehead lineup with a key player from each title squad of 2011 and 2013. The bobblehead of Carlos Correa, the top Houston Astros prospect who starred at shortstop for the 2013 Midwest League Champions, will lead off on Saturday, May 24. The bobblehead of Trevor Rosenthal, a pitcher from the 2011 Championship and a reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals, will appropriately close the bobblehead giveaways on Saturday, Aug. 16.
As the River Bandits enter their second season as an affiliate of the Houston Astros, who proudly boast ESPN's top-rated minor league baseball system in baseball, the bobblehead lineup will also feature four Houston Astros greats: Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, and three Hall of Fame candidates: seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, Astros career home run leader Jeff Bagwell, and Astros career hits leader Craig Biggio.
"This bobblehead lineup celebrates the unique collection of history, talent and fun that makes the River Bandits the most fun team in minor league baseball," said team owner Dave Heller. "Our fans can collect the legends of the Astros and the rising stars who have made the Quad Cities proud on the baseball diamond - all as part of the biggest "bobble" lineup ever to come to Modern Woodmen Park!"
Each premium giveaway will be for the first 1,500 fans in attendance on the given home game date. Every Saturday home game begins at 6:00 p.m. at Modern Woodmen Park this season, with regular gates opening at 4:30 p.m. The Sunday games are either at 1:15 p.m. or 5:00 p.m., depending on the date. The giveaway dates and sponsors are below:
Saturday, May 24: Carlos Correa, presented by CBS4 WHBF and APAC Customer Services
Beginning the 2013 season at 18 years old and as the first No. 1 overall pick to play for the Quad Cities franchise in 11 seasons, Correa did not disappoint. In his first full professional campaign, he led the Midwest League with a .872 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) percentage and was third with a .320 batting average. He was named the starting shortstop for the Western Division All-Stars and the Midwest League Postseason All-Star team. Entering the 2014 season, he is ranked as the No. 7 overall prospect in baseball by Baseball America.
Saturday, June 7: Craig Biggio, presented by Prairie Farms and FOX18
Biggio played his entire 20-year career (1988-2007) with the Houston Astros and retired as the franchise's career leader in games played (2,850), runs scored (1844), hits (3,060) and doubles (668). He retired as one of only nine players to reach the 3,000-hit milestone while playing his entire career with the same team. Biggio was a seven-time All-Star - and the only player in Major League history to make the All-Star team at both catcher and second base. He also won five Silver Slugger Awards and four Gold Gloves. He is currently a special assistant to Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow.
Saturday, June 21: Bobble Truck, presented by Iowa 80 Truckstop
The World's Largest Truckstop, on Exit 284 on I-80 west of the Quad Cities in Walcott, Iowa, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014. It is home to the Iowa 80 Kitchen, a 300-seat restaurant; gift store, the Super Truck Showroom, a dentist, a barber shop, a chiropractor, a workout room, laundry facilities, a 60-seat movie theatre, a trucker's TV lounge, a Verizon store kiosk, 24 private showers, a Food Court; a convenience store, a custom embroidery and vinyl shop, 10 gas islands, 16 diesel lanes, a fuel center, a seven-bay truck service center, a three-bay Truckomat truck wash, a CAT Scale, a Dogomat Pet Wash, and the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.
Sunday, June 22: Jeff Bagwell, presented by CBS4 WHBF and Hebrew National
Bagwell played his entire 15-year career (1991-2005) with the Houston Astros and hit a franchise-record 449 career home runs while collecting a franchise-record 1,529 RBI. He is the only Astro to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award (1991) and Most Valuable Player Award (1994). He also won three Silver Slugger Awards and one Gold Glove, while appearing in four All-Star Games. His 2,314 hits rank second to Biggio in Astros franchise history.
Saturday, July 5: Nolan Ryan, presented by Mediacom and the Dispatch-Argus
Major League Baseball's all-time leader with 5,714 career strikeouts and seven career no-hit games, Nolan Ryan, pitched nine of his modern-day record 27 major league seasons in a Houston Astros uniform and is now the club's Executive Advisor, working with Owner and Chairman Jim Crane, General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Ryan's son, President of Business Operations Reid Ryan. In addition to nine seasons that included the Astros' first three postseason appearances in franchise history, Ryan pitched eight seasons with the California Angels, and five seasons each with the New York Mets and Texas Rangers. Since his playing career ended, the 1999 Hall of Fame inductee has served in the Astros' and Texas Rangers' front offices.
Saturday, July 19: Rascal Gnome, presented by Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center
The friendliest raccoon in baseball will be the River Bandits' third gnome giveaway in the last three years. Rascal has been the River Bandits mascot since the 2008 season, the franchise's first under the ownership of Main Street Baseball. In his first six years, he has won two Midwest League Championships and the approval of fans across the region. Rascal has been on the team's iconic logo since it the club became the new-look River Bandits before 2008, and he is part of a new set of logos for the 2014 season.
Saturday, Aug. 9: Roger Clemens, presented by Ruhl & Ruhl Insurance, West Bend and the Quad-City Times
Clemens pitched with the Houston Astros for three of his 24 major league seasons and won his last of a major league-record seven Cy Young Awards in an Astros uniform in 2004. The following year, he had a career- and major league-best 1.87 ERA for the 2005 Astros team that earned the franchise's first World Series trip. While pitching for the Astros (2004-2006), Boston Red Sox (1984-1996), Toronto Blue Jays (1997-1998) and New York Yankees (1999-2003, 2007), Clemens recorded 4,672 strikeouts (third all-time), won two World Series and two pitching Triple Crowns, and was an 11-time All-Star. Clemens is entering his second season as Special Assistant to Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow.
Saturday, Aug. 16: Trevor Rosenthal, presented by DHCU and FOX18
A 21st round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals from Cowley County (KS) Community College in 2009, Rosenthal reached Quad Cities as a 20-year-old right-hander in 2011. After starting the year 3-7, he won all four decisions in the second half and won both his postseason starts, including the championship clincher on Sept. 17, 2011, against Lansing at Modern Woodmen Park. Rosenthal debuted for St. Louis July 18, 2012, to complete the fastest rise in 26 years for a Quad Cities alumnus to make his major league debut. He has become a fixture in the Cardinals bullpen with a 2.66 ERA in his first two seasons and streak of 20 1/3 scoreless postseason innings.
The River Bandits will announce the rest of the 2014 promotional schedule later this month.
UP NEXT: Opening Day is April 3, so lock in your seats now to see the defending Midwest League Champions in 2014! To order any of the ticket plans - with new lower prices - call the River Bandits box office at 563-324-3000 or visit www.riverbandits.com to download the season ticket order form. Season ticket and mini-plan packages start at just seven games and begin at less than $40. Call a River Bandits account representative today to choose your seats and get the details of our various mini-plan packages.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: Having just been named Ballpark Digest's winner of Best Ballpark Improvement in America under $1 million, the River Bandits ownership is making one of the biggest improvements to Modern Woodmen Park since the ballpark was first built back in 1931! A new Ferris wheel, standing 110 feet over the playing field, is opening this spring, along with a carousel, a new ride called a "Drop and Twist," an expanded 300-foot long zip line, and many other new games and attractions. In 2013, the team unveiled a new 220-foot long dual zip line, a rock climbing wall, and a number of new bounce houses. The team's major league affiliate, the Houston Astros, just saw all six of its affiliates reach the playoffs - the first time in a decade any MLB team can claim such success. The River Bandits were one of three affiliates to reach the championship round and one of two to win their league championship.