Teams celebrate history, mustaches05/03/2011 10:00 AM ET
By Benjamin Hill / MiLB.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."
Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
Locke and Locke Night, May 4
Curve pitcher Jeff Locke is a big fan of Lost, and he allegedly has many things in common with the show's "John Locke" character as well. Hence, Wednesday's truly unprecedented "Locke and Locke" promo, in which the Curve celebrate the similarities between the two while also paying tribute to the show itself. The visiting Aeros will be known as "The Others," fans sitting in seats that correspond to numbers on "The Hatch" win special prizes, and scenes from the show will be shown on the video board. Curve general manager Rob Egan speaks for me and I'm sure many others when he says "I'm lost when it comes to Lost," but apparently the desire to wear a jumpsuit took precedence over comprehension concerns.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Mustache Mania, May 4
Tributes to and celebrations of facial hair have become prevalent around the Minor Leagues in recent years, perhaps alarmingly so. The Baysox have been trendsetters in this regard -- as evidenced by 2010's "Beard-A-Palooza" -- but they'll return their attention to the upper lip with Wednesday's "Mustache Mania." The evening's first pitch will be thrown out by Nathan Wilson, associate steward of the D.C.-area branch of the American Mustache Institute, and in-game contests include "Best" and "Most Pathetic" mustache showdowns. All fans possessing mustaches both natural and artificially concocted receive discounted admission, with members of the esteemed "Mustaches For Kids" organization eligible for further discounts. And wouldn't you know it? The Baysox's opponent is none other than the "Hair"isburg Senators.
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Roll Back to 1991 Night, May 4
The Fort Myers Miracle arrived on the scene in 1991, a year in which punk broke and Terminator 2 ruled. The team celebrates its 20th anniversary Wednesday by rolling back prices to this long-ago era; fans will be able to buy $3.50 general admission tickets, eat $1.50 hot dogs, and throw down $2.75 beers. But though the prices are reduced the entertainment won't be, as the team is paying tribute to memorable 1991 hallmarks such as the improbable world championship of the parent Minnesota Twins and the launch of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I'm personally hoping for a between-inning contest saluting to the enduring cinema classic Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead.
Peoria Chiefs (Midwest League)
Fan vs. Food, May 4
Salute to Pawn Shops and Antiques, May 10
In the battle of fan and food, who will prevail? Those attending Wednesday's Chiefs game will find out, as the evening features contests such as "Eat an Ice Cream Sandwich with No Hands" and "Find the Bubble Gum at the Bottom of a Whipped Cream Pie." But as the evening wears on, the food becomes anthropomorphic, and fans will find themselves doing battle with the likes of Banana (in a dizzy bat race) and Taco (in a tricycle race). If this is all too much to stomach, then perhaps a salute to an enduring business in a recession economy is more to your liking. Tuesday's tribute to pawn shops and antiques features "Guess the Price" on-field contests and a (yet to be confirmed) visit from a local appraiser.
Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Charlie Sheen-Co de Mayo, May 5
This celebration of all things "Winning" was announced by the Storm in early March, in the midst of Charlie Sheen's brief reign atop the pop culture zeitgeist. The moment has since passed, but the Storm are still offering a plethora of Charlie-themed goodies. Highlights include a limited edition bobblehead for early-arriving fans, free "Wild Thing"-style black glasses, "Tiger Blood Cocktails" on the Tiki Terrace, and 2-for-1 Ho-Hos. All in all, this promises to be a memorable throwback to a brief moment in our history in which a megalomaniacal drug addict was the most talked-about man in the country.
Round Rock Express (Pacific Coast League)
The Return of Rojo Johnson? May 6
A year has passed since all hell broke loose at Round Rock's Dell Diamond, as Budweiser-swigging, bling-wearing "Rojo Johnson" took the mound and promptly instigated one of the most comical baseball brawls of all time. Word on the street is that Rojo Johnson just might make a return Round Rock appearance this weekend, as his alter-ego Will Ferrell will be in town to host the annual Will Powered Golf Classic charity tournament. Though Rojo himself has gone on record saying he won't pitch again for the Express, team president Reid Ryan thinks otherwise: "I think he is scared. ... We have new uniforms and a talent-laden team that just happens to be in first place, and he is afraid to take the mound, period. He's scared."
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Nisei Baseball Tribute Night, May 7
Fresno is one of many West Coast cities with a rich Japanese baseball history, and Saturday the team is honoring this legacy with its "Nisei Baseball Tribute Night" ("Nisei" is a term that refers to the American-born children of native Japanese). The Grizzlies will take the field wearing throwback Fresno Athletic Club jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game. Proceeds from the auction benefit the Nisei Baseball Research Project, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of Japanese-American baseball.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League)
Ollie the Bat Dog Bobblehead, May 7
The team might be called the "Fisher Cats," but one of the hallmarks of Manchester, N.H., professional baseball is a canine fetching bats. The pooch in question is 2-year-old Ollie, a ballpark celebrity who plies his trade in the home half of the first inning before trotting away to rapturous applause and a well-earned dog treat. Ollie's fame rises to the level of "immortal" Saturday, as the team honors him with his own bobblehead. The items are limited to the first 1,500 fans in attendance, and demand is likely to far exceed supply.
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
Suit Up Night/Night of Networking, May 9
Trenton-area professionals looking to increase both their real-world and virtual social standing will be well served by Monday's promotion in which $32 buys ballpark admission, an all-you-can-eat buffet, a presentation by a local social media marketing consultant and the opportunity to "network with area business professionals in a relaxed environment." The environment may not be quite as relaxed as promised though, since, perhaps not coincidentally, Monday is also "Suit Up Night." Information is scant on this formally dressed innovation; the team's website simply says "Wear a suit to the ballpark!" It'll be up to you whether or not you want to make this a "tie" ballgame.
Memphis Redbirds (Pacific Coast League)
30th Anniversary of Charlie Lea No-Hitter, May 10
On May 10, 1981, Charlie Lea became the first Montreal Expo to throw a no-hitter at Olympic Stadium, accomplishing the feat in the second game of a twinbill against the San Francisco Giants. Lea now serves as a color commentator for the Redbirds, who are not about to let this "pearl" anniversary go unnoticed. In fact, they're giving away gift certificates to the local Pearl Oyster House, as well as a variety of autographed Lea memorabilia. The man himself will toss a ceremonial first pitch, and rumor has it that the YouTube classic "Charlie Bit Me" might even receive some play on the video board.
Bonus Coverage: Because the more content to ignore the better, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been, but weren't:
Happy Birthday, Herm Edwards (Akron Aeros, April 27): In honor of the coach's famous "We play to win the game" proclamation, the Aeros guaranteed victory to all fans in attendance. The game was postponed due to rain.
Bus Driver Appreciation Night (Bowling Green Hot Rods, April 28): All in attendance had a CDL of a good time.
"Acebook" T-Shirt Giveaway (Reno Aces, April 28): A pre-bought ticket netted fans an "Acebook" t-shirt, in commemoration of the team's formidable social networking presence.
Ballgame at Hi Corbett Field (Tucson Padres, April 30): A Mariachi concert made the Tucson Padres' regular home of Kino Stadium unavailable, but no matter -- they had another professional-quality stadium at the ready.
General Manager on the Grill Night (Mississippi Braves, May 1): Front office executives can do it all.
Kentucky Derby Celebration and Pre-enactment (Lakewood BlueClaws, May 3): Pick the winner and receive a prize pack from the local Monmouth Park race track.
Tribute to Night Court (Wilmington Blue Rocks, May 4): I am listing this only because, when I was a kid, people often told me I looked like Judge Harry Stone.