Promo Preview: Ending with a bang08/31/2010 10:49 AM ET
By Benjamin Hill / MLB.com
Minor League teams are known for their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays, 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."
Lancaster JetHawks (California League)
90210 Night, Sept. 2
90210 is the world's most famous ZIP code, five digits that will forever remind TV viewers of Brenda, Brandon and their over-privileged Beverly Hills peers. These erstwhile teen heartthrobs will be celebrated in nearby Lancaster on Thursday, and for good reason: it's 9/02/10! Fans with a 90210 ZIP code receive free admission, as will anyone possessing the same name of any of the show's characters. A peach snow-cone-eating contest will be staged in honor of the gang's Peach Pit hangout, and there'll be 90210 trivia all evening long. Other teams should consider making this a last-minute addition to their promo calendars, as there won't be another 9/02/10 for another 100 years. At that point, we'll all be cryogenically frozen whilst awaiting a scientifically aided bodily rebirth.
Omaha Royals (Pacific Coast League)
Final Game at Rosenblatt Stadium w/Miniature Seat Giveaway, Sept. 2
Few ballparks are as eminently venerable as Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium, which has hosted professional baseball since 1949 and the College World Series since 1950. The Pacific Coast League's Omaha Royals have called Rosenblatt home for each of the last 42 seasons, but Thursday marks the end of the line for this storied franchise/facility relationship. The club is relocating to nearby Sarpy County but not before sending out Rosenblatt in style. The first 2,500 fans receive miniature Rosenblatt replica seats, and once inside they'll be able to meet a wide array of former players and visiting dignitaries. It'll all be capped off by a fireworks display, because the best way to go out with a bang is to do so literally.
Orem Owlz (Pioneer League)
Last Comic Flying Night, Sept. 2
Something For Everyone Night, Sept. 3
Sandwich Board Spinning Appreciation Day, Sept. 6
The season ain't over 'til it's over, and until that day comes, the Owlz are going to keep things ridiculous. Thursday is "Last Comic Flying Night," in which a cavalcade of comedians engage in between-inning battles as they bid to be named the ballpark's top comic. Then comes Saturday's "Something For Everyone Night," which is nothing if not truth in advertising. Everyone will indeed get something upon entering the ballpark, with prizes ranging from paperclips to 2011 season tickets. The team closes out the season with one of the most esoteric tribute nights of 2010: "Sandwich Board Spinning Appreciation Day." These dedicated sidewalk marketers will be honored throughout the game, and one fan will win a job as the Owlz' 2011 sandwich board promoter.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League)
Tribute to Scrapple, Sept. 2
While not well-known in the United States as a whole, Scrapple has long been a favorite food of those residing in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The dish's name is literal, in which "scrap" (i.e. hog offal) is mixed with cornmeal, boiled, then pan-fried. Thursday marks perhaps the first time in which it has been available at a Minor League concession stand, as part of the Blue Rocks' "Tribute to Scrapple." This extravaganza also includes "The Scrapple Olympics" (highlighted by relay races featuring one-pound blocks of Scrapple), the crowning of "Mr. and Mrs. Scrapple" and a performance by bluegrass band the Scrapple Creek Runners. What it will all add up to is one of the most offal nights in recent memory.
Cedar Rapids Kernels (Midwest League)
Jack Roeder Appreciation Night, Sept. 3
Round Rock Express (Pacific Coast League)
Jay Miller Appreciation Night, Sept. 3
The end of the season is a time to say goodbye, and two farewells of special significance will be occurring Friday. In Cedar Rapids, the Kernels are marking the retirement of their long-time GM by staging "Pack the Park for Jack Roeder Night." The first 1,000 fans receive commemorative Jack Roeder coffee mugs, and the players will take the field in special Roeder jerseys. The Express are saying farewell to team president Jay Miller, who has accepted a position with the Texas Rangers. The team is providing fans with note cards so they may pen thank-you letters, and in perhaps the ultimate tribute, the evening's fireworks display will be in Miller's honor.
Pawtucket Red Sox (International League)
Boston Pops 125th Anniversary Concert w/Kenny Loggins, Sept. 4
The PawSox are on the road this Saturday, but McCoy Stadium will be packed regardless. The team is hosting a premier concert event as the world-renowned Boston Pops Orchestra celebrates its 125th anniversary with a gala performance. This marks the first time that the full orchestra has ever performed at a baseball stadium, and the cherry on top of Saturday's musical sundae is that Kenny Loggins will perform as a special guest. This is Loggins' only New England appearance of the year, and he's sure to go over well in a region of the country that never liked "Mussina" anyway.
Iowa Cubs (Pacific Coast League)
Player to Be Named Later Bobblehead, Sept. 5
Throughout baseball history, trades between teams have often included the mysterious "Player to Be Named Later." But who is this player, how did he get such a name, and why has he been traded so many times? The Iowa Cubs can't provide the answer to these probing questions, but they're nevertheless going where no team has gone before by honoring the mysterious Mr. Later with his own bobblehead. If this groundbreaking item is to be believed, "Later" is a handsome but non-descript Caucasian. If you want one of these fine items, you'd better get to Principal Park sooner rather than later -- only 1,000 will be given away.
Portland Sea Dogs (Eastern League)
Field of Dreams Fan Appreciation Day, Sept. 5
The Sea Dogs are combating end-of-the-season malaise with end-of-the-season maize. As part of the team's Fan Appreciation Day at Hadlock Field, the players will emerge from corn stalks in the outfield and then wander into the stands to thank the fans individually. This old-time aura will be heightened thanks to the player's uniforms, which are modeled after those of the 1926 Portland Eskimos. It'll be hard not to say "Aw shucks" after witnessing all of this, at least as long as you're still staring at the outfield. Because there'll be corn out there, and the corn is in shucks, and, oh, nevermind. You can't win 'em all.
Huntsville Stars (Southern League)
Okra Win-Free Labor Day Marathon, Sept. 6
The Stars have engaged in more than a few crazy stunts this season -- "Car Survivor" comes to mind -- but one tops them all when it comes to sheer wordplay lunacy: The Okra Win-Free Labor Day Marathon. This in-stadium event takes place prior to the Stars' finale and features 103 people splitting the duty of running a marathon (no one will win, see?). This will be followed by a steak dinner for the participants, which will also include okra. Oprah Winfrey, who once ran a marathon, has been invited to participate as well. If she says yes -- it could happen! -- then the event could be dubbed the "Okra Win-Free Labor Day Marathon featuring Oprah Winfrey." That would be truly epic.
St. Lucie Mets (Florida State League)
Banana Phone Giveaway, Sept. 6
All season long, the St. Lucie Mets have played Raffi's "Banana Phone" whenever the opposing team makes a call to the bullpen. The fan base has responded to this unorthodox musical choice, doing improvised banana phone dances in the aisles and, in extreme cases, bringing bananas to the ballpark. Now everyone can get in on the act as the team will be giving away custom-designed banana phones on Monday. These cheerful anthropomorphic bananas feature a (non-functional) keypad on its belly and are sponsored by Humana. Therefore, it's the Humana Banana Phone. Don't let the opportunity to procure one of these items "potassium" you by.
Bonus Coverage: Because it's so hard to say goodbye, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but weren't:
Salute to Infamous Illinoisians (Peoria Chiefs, Aug. 25): In celebration of the uneven crop of humanity produced by the Prairie State.
Pitch Black Jersey Giveaway (Brooklyn Cyclones, Aug. 26): The most opaque giveaway item of the season.
Mystery Bobblehead (Vermont Lake Monsters, Aug. 27): The "mystery" individual turned out to be 14-year-old batboy Troy Austin.
Benedict Arnold Bobblehead (Connecticut Tigers, Aug. 29): Perhaps this one should have been given away closer to the "trait"-ing deadline.
Gluttony Night (Reading Phillies, Aug. 30): Perhaps the last Gluttony Night in team history, if the rumors are to be believed.
Lee Smith Appearance (Vancouver Canadians, Aug. 30): Fans in Canada were given the rare chance to get up close to an illustrious closer.
Hamilton Bennett Mustache Night (Brooklyn Cyclones, Aug. 31): Fans and front office alike have grown upper-lip hair in honor of the Cyclones' affable hurler.