Promo Preview: By the numbers05/04/2010 10:00 AM ET
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
When Squirrels Fly Night, May 6
When the "Flying Squirrels" was announced as the name of Richmond's new baseball team back in October, it prompted a quizzical reaction from many in the community. Just what, exactly, is a Flying Squirrel? Fans looking to bone up on their knowledge of gliding rodents should attend Thursday's game at The Diamond, as the evening will feature trivia contests and fun facts as well as real-live flying squirrels on the concourse. Another highlight will be the "Flying Squirrels in Your Pants" between-inning game, featuring contestants using a slingshot to launch stuffed animals into the oversized trousers of their partner. And as always, "Squirrelly Fries" will be available at the concession stands. Because you just can't go wrong with punning potato products -- you just can't.
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Bring Back the High-Five, May 6
The Fort Myers Miracle aren't afraid to take a stand when it comes to the most pressing issues of the day. The club unequivocally believes that "the high-five is what makes America great," therefore "the fist bump, forearm bash and any other variation is America gone wrong." Thursday's "Bring Back the High-Five" will feature the team doing just that: all in attendance will be greeted with a high-five upon arrival, and areas of the stadium will be set aside for those seeking further palm-on-palm action. Fans will also be called upon to determine the greatest high-five of all time, with choices including (but not limited to) the Top Gun volleyball scene, "Saved By the Bell" closing credits and anything from Borat.
Hickory Crawdads (South Atlantic League)
Date an Intern Night, May 6
Fan vs. Food, May 7
Thursday will be a night of intrigue and romance in Hickory, as eight local ladies will vie for the chance to go on a date with intern Gregor Walz (who, like all interns, is very handsome as well as financially secure). The promotion is sponsored by a local limo company, indicative of the high-rolling lifestyle enjoyed by Minor League interns across the country. The extravagance continues the next evening with "Fan vs. Food," a multi-tiered eating contest highlighted by the brand-new "CLAWlossal" sandwich: a foot-long hot dog, hamburger, BBQ, chili, jalapeno poppers, onion rings, shredded cheese, two pickle spears and fries. Those who can finish this monstrosity within the span of an inning will be rewarded with a t-shirt (extra large, I'm guessing).
Round Rock Express (Pacific Coast League)
Will Ferrell Appearance, May 6
Celebrity appearances at Minor League ballparks generally feature former sitcom stars or sexagenarian wrestlers, so it's always notable when a true A-Lister passes through the gates. Such will be the case Thursday when Will Ferrell visits Round Rock's Dell Diamond. The comedy superstar is in town for Friday's inaugural "Will Powered Golf Classic," with proceeds going toward college scholarships for cancer survivors. According to the team's press release, "Ferrell will interact with fans, visit with the media and discuss his charity on the Express radio broadcast." Not included, but certainly implied, is that Ferrell will nod politely while listening to overzealous fans recite their favorite bits of Anchorman dialogue.
Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League)
Circle of Life Long Weekend, May 7-10
Minor League Baseball may be frivolous entertainment for some, but to others it represents a chance to celebrate the full spectrum of human experience and emotion. Such will be the case in Quad Cities, as the club is staging a quartet of promotions that literally take the fan from the cradle to the grave. Friday is "Maternity Night," featuring Lamaze classes and concession stand "craving stations" for Moms-to-be. On Saturday, a diligent student will be awarded a year of college tuition via the inaugural Keith Lucier Memorial Scholarship, and on Sunday, the team will announce the recipients of an extravagant "Bandit Wedding" (to take place at the ballpark on Aug. 20). It all concludes on Monday, with one lucky (?) fan receiving an all-expenses-paid funeral. Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset.
Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League)
John Calipari Bourbon Bottle Signing, May 8
World's Largest Mother's Day Card, May 9
Empty whiskey bottles are generally a tough sell, except when said bottles feature the likeness of an esteemed basketball coach and said coach is willing to put his John Hancock on them. That's the rare scenario taking place at Applebee's Park on Saturday as Kentucky hoops coach John Calipari will be signing limited-edition bottles of Makers Mark. The bottles cost $35 each, with all proceeds going to charity. Then in a typical Saturday-into-Sunday transition, empty liquor bottles give way to quality time spent with the family. The Legends' Mother's Day Celebration features a gigantic 7-foot-by-3-foot card, allowing fans to express their love with a Sharpie while standing on a footstool.
Portland Beavers (Pacific Coast League)
3D View-Master Giveaway, May 8
The likes of "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland" have sparked a 3D renaissance, a shift that the Beavers are capitalizing on with Saturday's innovative giveaway. The first 2,000 fans in attendance receive View-Masters, filled with 3D slides showcasing Beavers baseball as well as local military units. Making the object even more intriguing is the element of randomness -- 200 of the View-Masters will feature a final frame offering $1 tickets, while 10 will contain an offer good for a free suite at a future game.
Reading Phillies (Eastern League)
Spam Carving Contest, May 8
Tradition compels me to feature Reading's "Spam Carving" contest, which returns for its third year Saturday. A motley crew of aspiring canned meat artisans will assemble on the field prior to the game, intent on sculpting a work of art from the well-preserved food product. It will be tough for anyone to replicate the sublime beauty to be found in
last year's creations, which included a meticulously detailed living room and a Phillies' "P" logo and a somewhat terrifying pointy-eared canine. Will 2010's competitors be able to reach such lofty heights?
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Beard-A-Palooza, May 10
Esteemed groomers of upper lip hair such as Clay Zavada and Josh Collmenter inspired a wave of "Mustache Mania" promotions in recent years, leading observers of the facial hair zeitgeist to wonder if the beard would receive similar attention. Observers, I am happy to report that the answer is an emphatic "yes." On Monday, the Bowie Baysox celebrate "Beard-A-Palooza," an evening of chin hair-related games and contests. All those sporting beards (real or fake) receive a half-price ticket. Between-inning festivities include "longest" and "most colorful" beard contests as well as a guessing game entitled "What's in the Beard?" Sometimes, that's a question best left unanswered.
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Fun Is Good Golf Tournament, May 11
The RiverDogs are breathing new life into the moribund institution that is the charity golf tournament, packing their annual "Fun Is Good" soirees with absurdist scenarios galore. This year's tournament is dedicated to the films of team co-owner Bill Murray, meaning that participants will be able to speak with the ghost of Christmas past, buy "Groundhog's Day" mulligans and take to the tee while dressed like one of Charlie's Angels. A $125 entry fee includes green fees, range balls, lunch and a post-tourney awards ceremony and dinner, with all proceeds benefiting the University of Carolina's Storm Eye Institute.
Bonus Coverage: Because I have not yet reached my self-imposed word quota, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column. Could have been, but weren't:
Gordie Brown Bobblehead (Las Vegas 51s, April 28): In honor of the noted impressionist, a Las Vegas entertainment staple who once served as Celine Dion's opening act.
Dale Earnhardt Tribute Car Unveiling (Kannapolis Intimidators, April 29): In honor of the original "Intimidator" -- Dale Earnhardt -- the team unveiled a No. 3 race car that will reside permanently at Fieldcrest-Cannon Stadium.
Norm Miller Appearance (Corpus Christi, April 30 and May 1): The former Astros outfielder stopped by in order to promote his latest collection of humorous baseball stories, at least one of which deals with locker-residing boa constrictors.
Drag Kings T-Shirt Giveaway (Fresno Grizzlies, May 1): Another prime piece of paraphernalia featuring the Minor Leagues' premier dancing grounds crew.
George "The Animal" Steele Appearance (Wilmington Blue Rocks, May 2): It's not every day that one gets the chance to meet a legendary septuagenarian grappler.
Brett Favre Night (Hickory Crawdads, May 4): Featuring a flip-flop race, "Pants on the Ground" dance-off and clips from "There's Something About Mary" on the videoboard.
Kentucky Derby Reenactment (Lakewood BlueClaws, May 4): A meticulous recreation of Saturday's race, featuring a bevy of silk-wearing team employees.