Taking a new road to Wrigley08/17/2010 10:00 AM 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."
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Postgame Performance by Gallagher, Aug. 18
It can be tough to distinguish one's self in the cutthroat world of stand-up comedy, but Gallagher did so in the '80s through his wanton destruction of foodstuffs. Watermelons, in particular, were no match for this shaggy-haired basic-cable superstar, and his penchant for smashing these rotund fruits solidified a reputation that exists to this day. Gallagher will show up at Charleston's Joseph P. Riley Ballpark on Wednesday, throwing out a first pitch and leading fans in the seventh-inning stretch before his destructive postgame performance. The RiverDogs are advising fans to "BYOP" (bring your own poncho).
Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League)
Ed O'Neill Night with Polk High T-Shirt Giveaway, Aug. 18
The most prominent town in Mahoning Valley is Youngstown, and one of the most prominent thespians to ever emerge from this northeast Ohio burg is Ed O'Neill. Currently a star in the sitcom Modern Family, O'Neill's most enduring role was Al Bundy on the groundbreaking Married With Children. As a tribute to O'Neill and the character he so thoroughly embodied, the Scrappers will be giving away Polk High t-shirts Wednesday. Al Bundy was a standout football player at Polk High, of course -- he once scored four touchdowns in a single game!
Toledo Mud Hens (International League)
Wizard of Oz Night, Aug. 18
Fans attending Wednesday's game at Fifth Third Field are going to want to settle in and get comfortable, because it'll be a long night at the ballpark. As if nine (or more) innings of baseball weren't enough, the team will screen "The Wizard of Oz" on the videoboard following the game, which begins at 7 p.m. ET. In order to get fans in the mood for this 1939 cinematic classic, Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow will be roaming the ballpark all evening long. The appearance of these characters will make it clear that you're not in Kansas anymore, although you will in fact still be in Ohio.
Montgomery Biscuits (Southern League)
Ladies Night/Win a Date with Henry Wrigley, Aug. 19
Henry Wrigley is a 24-year-old third-base farmhand in the Tampa Bay organization, now playing for Double-A Montgomery after a scorching start to the season with Class A Advanced Charlotte. Wrigley's also a hot prospect on the local singles scene, thanks to his love of reading, puppies and watching the sun rise. Thursday is "Ladies Night" in Montgomery, highlighted by a "Win a Date with Henry Wrigley" contest. While nothing can top being wined and dined by a real live professional baseball player, there will also be free massages, $5 "Caribbean Cosmos" at the concession stands and speed dating with less exciting, non-professional-baseball-playing local men.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
Out of the Woods and Wildlife Night/Golf Night/Tiger Webkinz Giveaway, Aug. 19
The Spikes' story, and it's one they're sticking to, is that Thursday's confluence of Tiger-centric promotions is a complete coincidence. That's more than a little difficult to believe, but the suspension of disbelief is generally a worthwhile endeavor, so let's proceed. The first 1,000 fans 12 and under receive a tiger Webkinz, while a live 2,000 pound Bengal tiger will be stationed on the concourse as part of a conservation-themed "Out of the Woods" promo (featuring various wildlife and educational displays). And speaking of "Tigers" and "Woods," it's also Golf Night. In-game contests include putting competitions and divot tossing, while clips from the likes of Caddyshack and Happy Gilmore are displayed on the videoboard. What it all adds up to is a happy coincidence.
Missoula Osprey (Pioneer League)
1910 Firefighter Bobblehead, Aug. 20
The Great Fire of 1910 got that name for a reason, as the unstoppable conflagration blazed through three million acres of woodland before finally petering out. Eastern Montana was particularly devastated by the so-called "Big Blow-up," and the damage would have been even worse had it not been for the valiant efforts of local firefighters. To commemorate the centennial anniversary of these heroic efforts, the Osprey are giving away 1910 Firefighter bobbleheads to the first 750 fans in attendance at Friday's game. The figurines feature an axe-wielding man in rugged outdoor clothes, his blank countenance giving little indication as to the severity of the task at hand.
Omaha Royals (Pacific Coast League)
1970 Team Dinner, Aug. 20
The 1970 Omaha Royals won the American Association championship, a formidable feat that is still being celebrated 40 years after the fact. More than 20 members of this victorious squad will converge upon Omaha this weekend for a two-day shindig, highlighted by Friday's on-field anniversary dinner at Rosenblatt Stadium. Special guests include team skipper Jack McKeon, GM Bob Quinn and players Paul Splittorff, Tom Burgmeier and Jerry Cram, but fans wishing to revel in the glory of past decades are invited to do so as well. One hundred seats are available to the general public, and the $45 ticket cost also includes a ticket to the next night's ballgame -- the first game of the final homestand in the history of Rosenblatt Stadium.
Sacramento River Cats (Pacific Coast League)
California Governor Bobblehead Election, Aug. 20
"Bobblections" have been staged by the Goldklang Group's constellation of teams in each of the past two presidential elections, and now the concept is being utilized by the Sacramento River Cats to determine California's gubernatorial race. How it works is simple: Fans entering Raley Field will get to choose between a bobblehead of Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman, with the first bobblehead that runs out being declared the winner. In the past, such promotions have predicted election results with stunning accuracy. Whoever loses Friday might as well start writing a concession speech. The winner, however, should start deliberating on what campaign promise to break first.
Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League)
Roofman Blood Drive, Aug. 21
Blood supply levels drop to critical lows in August, as regular donors forgo their civic duties in lieu of summertime fun. Therefore, those who work for blood banks must do what they can to make sure that the public keeps donating pints -- even if it means camping out on the roof of a stadium. That's what Ryan "Roofman" Ragan will be doing in Lakewood this week, residing on top of FirstEnergy Park for four days in order to promote the work of the Central Jersey Blood Center. He'll finally descend on Saturday, in conjunction with the BlueClaws' day-long blood drive. "We'll go up on the roof, set up the tent and have a little fun. I just hope it's not windy," said Ragan.
Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League)
Celtics Night featuring Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Aug. 22
Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis visited LaLacheur Park last season, tossing mini-basketballs and t-shirts to the enraptured multitudes during several between-inning breaks. This year's appearance may be even more noteworthy, as Davis will be signing copies of the just-released children's book Basketball with Big Baby. This wonderfully titled tome was authored by Spinners vice president of corporate communications Jon Goode, who previously teamed up with Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon on the the cult classic Pitching with the Papelbons.
Bonus Coverage: Because protocol demands it, and the demands of protocol must always be met, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been, but weren't:
Don Larsen Appearance (Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, Aug. 11): Celebrating 54 years of perfection.
Useless Skills Olympics (Auburn Doubledays, Aug. 12): Perhaps "Writing about Minor League Promotions" was one of the events.
Orioles Pride Night (Bowie Baysox, Aug. 12): Bowie fans Showalter-ed their affinity for Baltimore's Major League franchise.
Top Gun Night (Jamestown Jammers, Aug. 13): The team was flying on "Cruise" control.
Salute to Superstitions (Richmond Flying Squirrels, Aug. 13): Featuring a golf umbrella giveaway, ladder limbo and prizes for fans in seat No. 13.
Greg Luzinski Appearance (Williamsport Crosscutters, Aug. 13): What a load of "Bull."
Oregon Trail Night (Eugene Emeralds, Aug. 16): In which fans debated that eternal river-crossing question: caulk or ford?