Promo Preview: Look to the calendar04/19/2011 11:05 AM ET
By Benjamin Hill / MLB.com
Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays for the entire season, we'll preview 10 of the most intriguing 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."
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Pie Day/Pi Day, April 20
The Baysox have long held an annual "Pi Day" promotion, in which area students display their formidable on-field decimal recitation powers (the traditional day to celebrate pi, March 14, falls outside of the Minor League calendar, of course). Though, pi can never be expressed as a fraction, pie certainly can. Therefore, the Baysox are supplementing Wednesday's traditional math-based activities with a celebration of this beloved dessert. Tickets to the contest include a voucher for a free slice of apple pie, and the game will be preceded by a pie-baking competition judged by Baysox players, coaches and front-office staff. The winner of this culinary confrontation will throw out a ceremonial first pitch, immediately followed by a ballgame featuring an infinite number of possible outcomes.
Tulsa Drillers (Texas League)
Pineapplepalooza, April 20
Wednesday is 4/20, a date on the calendar long associated with the celebration of a mind-altering substance: it's National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day! The Drillers are marking the occasion with a full-on "palooza," a designation that easily outranks "fest," "party," "shindig" and even "blowout" in the American lexicon. The evening will be highlighted by the "Pineapple Olympics," featuring events such as golf, shot put and, most harrowing, smoothie chugging. The winners receive pineapple-related prizes (a fitting conclusion to any fruit-ful endeavor), leaving the losers with Dole-ful expressions on their faces.
Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League)
TP Tax Rebate Night, April 21
The Storm Chasers opened brand-new Werner Park last weekend amidst much pomp and circumstance, but that's in the past and now it's time to get down to business! The first theme night in the ballpark's history will be Thursday's TP Tax Rebate celebration, with fans receiving a dime upon entering the stadium. This monetary gift is a reference to Omaha mayor Jim Suttle's idea to tax toilet paper, and fans can either pocket it or contribute to the March of Dimes via a designated "toilet donation station." The Storm Chasers are calling this a "two-ply approach to fun and charity," and hopefully it will result in a donation station "flush" with cash.
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
High-Five World Record Attempt, April 21
You certainly don't need me to tell you that Thursday is "National High Five Day," but you may need a reminder that the current record for "most high fives by an individual in an hour" is 1,363. But for how long? Richmond mascot Nutzy the Flying Squirrel plans to shatter this record prior to Thursday's ballgame, as the indomitable gliding rodent will position himself outside the stadium gates in order to engage in a 60-minute frenzy of palm-to-palm contact. The team will then proceed to celebrate the number five all night long, via $5 concession specials and numerically obsessed on-field contests.
Iowa Cubs (Pacific Coast League)
Dallas Clark Bobblehead Giveaway and Appearance, April 22
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Dallas Clark visits Iowa's Principal Park on Friday, fresh off his cameo appearance on the CBS drama Criminal Minds. The occasion for his visit has nothing to do with his acting endeavors, however, and everything to do with the evening's giveaway: a bobblehead featuring Clark wearing the uniform of his University of Iowa alma mater. Clark will throw out the first pitch beneath the watchful gaze of his undulating miniature likenesses and then retreat to the radio booth for an interview with I-Cubs announcer and fellow acclaimed thespian Randy Wehofer.
Lake County Captains (Midwest League)
Baseball Card Giveaway commemorating April 11 No-Hitter, April 22
Lake County Captains hurlers Trey Haley, Francisco Jimenez and Clayton Ehlert combined on an Opening Night no-no on April 11, and the team has wasted very little time commemorating this momentous occasion. The first 1,000 fans in attendance at Friday's ballgame receive a limited-edition baseball card featuring the unhittable trio posing in front of a celebratory scoreboard graphic, and if that's not incentive enough to show up early, then consider this: Haley, Jimenez and Ehlert will sign the card on the concourse from 6 to 6:30 p.m., immeasurably increasing its nostalgic value.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Grizzlies Hard Hat Giveaway, April 23
Post-Game Easter Egg Hunt, April 24
There aren't many places to hide on a baseball field, but that's not going to stop the Grizzlies from staging a massive post-game Easter egg hunt on Sunday. Fans will scramble onto the playing surface in a mad rush for the 5,000 eggs scattered-about, easily broken items containing everything from game tickets to savings bonds. This all comes one day after another promo with a hard-plastic shell, as the first 200 fans attending Saturday's game receive a team-logo hard-hat.
Inland Empire 66ers (California League)
Ken Griffey Jr. Spirit Bobble-arm Giveaway, April 23
In 1988, an 18-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. suited up for the San Bernardino Spirit and proceeded to hit .338 with 11 home runs over just 58 ballgames. The Spirit are now known as the Inland Empire 66ers, who on Saturday are giving away a Griffey Jr. "bobble-arm" featuring the smiling center fielder making a home run-robbing catch. The 66ers opponent this evening are the Bakersfield Blaze, a Cincinnati Reds affiliate managed by none other than Ken Griffey Sr.
Peoria Chiefs (Midwest League)
Salute to Road Construction Night, April 23
You can't have roads without road construction, and on Saturday the Chiefs are saluting this inconvenient but necessary endeavor with their aptly named "Salute to Road Construction." The Illinois Department of Transportation is providing the team with an array of construction equipment (road signs, cones, glow-in-the-dark vests) and plenty of Village People will be played over the PA in honor of the group's hard-hat wearing member. Between-inning games include a dizzy bat race with orange cone obstacles, and the team is even considering setting up a detour at the main gate which will guide fans toward a side entrance. Further aspects of the promo have yet to be revealed, as they are still under construction.
Toledo Mud Hens (International League)
Royal Wedding Rehearsal Night, April 23
It may be a promotion more suited for a Kansas City affiliate, but that's not stopping the Mud Hens from staging a "Royal Wedding Rehearsal" in honor of the upcoming nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton. All fans receive crowns upon entering the stadium, and between-inning games include a wedding dress relay race, wedding cake-eating contest, and a ring-pop candy toss into the stands. The likes of Prince and Queen will be heard on the PA, and one fan will get to take home a framed stamp set featuring the soon-to-be-wedded royal couple. The team is currently searching for any local lovebirds named "William and Kate" willing to get married at the ballpark, but thus far these noble efforts have gone unrewarded.
Bonus Coverage: Because you've gotten this far and there's no turning back now, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but weren't:<
Salute to Charlie Sheen (Hickory Crawdads, April 14): If you can't make fun of drug-induced megalomania, then you can't make fun of anything.
Lawrence Timmons First Pitch (Altoona Curve, April 15): In which the Steelers linebacker proved he can throw as well as he can block.
Eddie Fisher First Pitch (Tacoma Rainiers, April 15): Eddie Fisher was the starting pitcher in Tacoma's first game at Cheney Stadium. Half a century and one huge renovation project later, he returned to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Whataburger Field Desk Clock (Corpus Christi Hooks, April 16): Fast food and Minor League Baseball make for a timely combination.
Chocolate Glove Giveaway (Reading Phillies, April 17): Not recommended for in-game use.
Ferrous Replica Van Giveaway (Lehigh Valley IronPigs, April 18): In honor of one of the few costumed pigs in possession of a valid driver's license.
Dave Koza Appearance (Pawtucket Red Sox, April 18): The only man to ever get a game-winning hit in the bottom of the 33rd inning was honored as part of the ballgame's 30th anniversary.