Promo Preview: Bobbling body parts07/20/2010 4:15 PM ET
By Benjamin Hill / MLB.com
Minor League teams are known for their gameday 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."
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League)
Jersey? Sure! Night, July 21
Promotional tributes to MTV's Jersey Shore have already been staged in decidedly landlocked locales such as Orem and Omaha, but the first team to announce such an innovation was the ocean-adjacent Brooklyn Cyclones. The club's long-awaited reality show blowout occurs on Wednesday, with the first 2,500 fans in attendance receiving mesh Jersey jerseys featuring mascot Sandy the Seagull in a fist-pumping pose. Those seeking a makeover can have their hair styled "high and hard" on the concourse while "dugout dance battles" are scheduled to take place amidst pulsating techno beats. Finally, those looking for more "GTL" in their lives will be able to get it in the form of "gym, tanning and laundry" gift certificate giveaways.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
Salute to Prehistoric Times, July 21
The Flintstones turn 50 this year, a significant anniversary for television's preeminent prehistoric cartoon. The Spikes, for reasons known only to them, have decided to pay tribute to this milestone throughout Wednesday's game. The team will play clips from the show throughout the evening and celebrate prehistoric fashions and inventions. It's also "Antique Night" at the ballpark, but the curio dealers on the concourse will be peddling items of more recent vintage. Bird-powered phonographs and elephant trunk shower heads are virtually impossible to find these days.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
The Great Fresno Tweet-Up II, July 22
Social media mavens in general, and the local Twitterati in particular, will descend on Fresno's Chukchansi Park on Thursday in order to partake in the second annual "Great Fresno Tweet-Up." These micro-blogging maniacs will be able to score discounted game tickets and then enjoy exclusive contests and discounts throughout the evening. Best of all, the promotion allows virtual friendships to become real, fostering communication between individuals that will be able to far exceed 140 characters.
Orem Owlz (Pioneer League)
Torii Hunter Bobblearm, July 22
The bobbling of unorthodox appendages has declined somewhat over the last couple of seasons, but the Owlz are bringing it back in a big way with Thursday's "Torii Hunter Bobblearm" giveaway. This first-class item features the Orem alumnus scaling a wall whilst decked out in a camo Owlz uniform and Spiderman-style stirrups. His bobbling left arm has just snagged a ball that otherwise would have left the stadium, serving as an enduring tribute to Hunter's legendary home run-robbing abilities.
Augusta GreenJackets (South Atlantic League)
Backstabbers Night, July 23
The Augusta GreenJackets are uniquely attuned to the havoc that can be wreaked by megalomaniacal athletes, having staged a derisive "Brett Favre Night" in 2008. On Friday, they're turning their teeming insect eyes to LeBron James, staging a "Backstabbers Night" in his honor. Anyone with an Ohio ID receives free admission, 2-for-1 drinks, and a seat in a special section staffed with grief counselors. Meanwhile, "King James" will be inducted into the "Backstabbers Hall of Fame," a heretofore unknown institution that also includes Brutus, Judas, Benedict Arnold, Nick Saban and Roger Clemens. Prior to the game, GreenJackets manager Dave Machemer will make a decision of his own, announcing to a live TV audience where he plans to eat dinner following the game.
Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Going Green Weekend, July 23-25
The Storm became the first Minor League team to stage a promotion dedicated to sustainable living when they hosted "Going Green Night" in 2007, a trend that has since swept through the industry like a benevolent airborne contagion. But the original is still (presumably) the best, as the Storm have since expanded its original concept into a weekend-long extravaganza. Expect sustainability festivals outside of the stadium, environmentally friendly fireworks and the liberal dispensing of energy-saving tips. I've done my part to get into the spirit, recycling this write-up from a 2008 "Promotion Preview" column.
Hagerstown Suns (South Atlantic League)
Little Heiskill Bobblehead, July 24
Frederick Keys (Carolina League)
Bryan Voltaggio Bobblehead, July 27
A Nationals and an Orioles affilate located in close proximity to one another are giving away unique bobbleheads this week, so why not conserve energy by including both of them within a single write-up? The Suns are up first with their "Little Heiskell" figurine, which is distributed in honor of an 18th-century soldier weather vane crafted by a German tinsmith that has since become one of Hagerstown's most prominent symbols (I'm as confused as you are). Three days later, the Keys are giving away bobbling likenesses of Bryan Voltaggio, the uber-talented local restaurateur, who gained nationwide fame after appearing on Top Chef. As far as I know, Voltaggio has yet to be honored in weather vane form.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Football Funday Sunday, July 25
Football-related promotions are all well and good, but the unsettling subtext is that baseball's long run of unquestioned summertime dominance will soon end. If fans can get that dispiriting thought out of their minds, then Bowie's "Football Funday Sunday" should be able to live up to the glory of its name. Nine former NFL players are scheduled to appear at the ballpark, the vast majority of whom suited up for the hometown Washington Redskins. These gridiron greats (or at least "competents") will pose for pictures and sign autographs as the team stages a plethora of football-related games and contests. An in-game raffle of memorabilia will be held, as well, with proceeds benefiting "Brave Dave," an organization seeking to find cures for autoimmune diseases.
Lake County Captains (Midwest League)
Christmas in July featuring Skipper Leg Lamp Bobblehead, July 25
One of Cleveland's many claims to fame is that the yuletide classic "Christmas Story" was filmed there, and the house where Ralphie and family lived now operates as a museum devoted to the film. The nearby Captains are using this connection as the jumping-off point for their "Christmas in July" promotion, which is highlighted by the distribution of a Skipper Leg Lamp Bobblehead. Inspired by the film, this item features the leg of the team's green mascot, clad in fishnet stockings and topped by a lampshade. It's safe to say that this giveaway is unique in the annals of Minor League Baseball bobblehead history -- disembodied cross-dressing illuminated mascot limbs represent something entirely new.
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
Awful Night, July 26
Flying Squirrels vice president Todd Parnell served as GM of the Altoona Curve from 2002-08, and while there he played a key role in implementing the team's legendary "Awful Night" promotions. These annual displays of the intentionally horrible peaked in 2006 when Parnell gave away pictures of his recently removed gall bladder after being thwarted in his attempt to give away the actual organ. So it's anyone's guess what could occur at Richmond's The Diamond on Monday. Rumor has it that Parnell may greet fans while wearing an oversized diaper, thereby taking Awful Night to spectacular new heights -- or depths, depending on your perspective.
Bonus Coverage: Because more equals better, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column. Could have been, but weren't:
Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Giveaway (Vermont Lake Monsters, July 14): Environmentalists bristle at the thought of a toothbrush that isn't friendly to the Earth from whence it came.
Free Buzz Cuts (Batavia Muckdogs, July 16): Fans were saved the prohibitive cost that usually accompanies razor-to-scalp action.
Baha Men Concert (Norfolk Tides, July 16): Ten years have passed, but the Baha Men have yet to receive a satisfactory answer regarding just who, exactly, let loose the canines.
Mike Schmidt Replica Jersey Giveaway (Eugene Emeralds, July 17): Schmidt hit 26 homers for the Emeralds in 1972, the same year he made his Major League debut with the Phillies.
Cold Hard Cash Giveaway (Fresno Grizzlies, July 17): This turned out to be far more successful than the "Hot Soft Cash Giveaways" that had been staged in the past.
Ship Out LeBron Night (Akron Aeros, July 19): Fans received free admission in exchange for their now-unwanted LeBron apparel, which will be sent to international relief organizations.
Salute to Hot Dogs (Hickory Crawdads, July 20): In addition to the requisite eating contests, the team saluted notable sporting "hot dogs" -- such as Rickey Henderson, Deion Sanders and Chad Ochocinco.