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'Wolves honor Erie's nautical history
07/09/2013 10:52 AM ET

Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays this season, we preview 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 benjamin.hill@mlb.com with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send him a Tweet -- hashtag "#promopreview."

Whether it's paying homage to Star Wars, raising cancer awareness or aping the fashion trends of a long-ago decade, most Minor League theme jerseys feature easily understandable and nationally applicable iconography.

Most, but not all. For there is also that subset of theme jerseys that are intensely local, featuring designs that tie in to the specific history the hometown in question. That's certainly the case with Friday's promotion in Erie, Pa., as the SeaWolves are wearing "Flagship Niagara" jerseys. These nautical duds feature a 19th-century battleship on the front and the words "Don't Give Up the Ship" on the back, and after the game they'll be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the Flagship Niagara League. tickets

Erie natives and aficionados of American naval history in general might have no problem deciphering the above paragraph, but the rest of us might need a little help. Let's break it down: Erie is actually known as the "Flagship City," in honor of the role that it played in the War of 1812. In the pivotal "Battle of Lake Erie" a small squadron of ships that had been constructed in the city defeated a British fleet, and leading the charge in this skirmish was Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, commander of the flagship Niagara. "Don't Give Up the Ship" were the words emblazoned on Perry's battle flag, and this emphatic expression of resilience remains well-quoted to this day.

This brings us to Friday's SeaWolves promotion. The aforementioned Flagship Niagara League, a non-profit organization that oversees both the Erie Maritime Museum as well as the reconstructed Flagship Niagara currently docked on Lake Erie, is the beneficiary of the jersey auction. And, this September, the Flagship Niagara League is staging a "Tall Ships Festival" in which a fleet of nine 19th-century style battleships will convene on Lake Erie.

So, yes, this is why the SeaWolves are wearing nautical-themed duds on Friday evening. Perhaps this was of interest to you, perhaps not, but it cannot be denied that Minor League Baseball serves as an ideal launching point for the exploration of American historical and cultural events. That's why I write this column!

Durham Bulls (International League) DBAP Food Truck Fest, July 10 tickets
The Bulls play in a modern, amenity-laden downtown ballpark, and as such there are always plenty of concession options. But on Wednesday, these day-to-day offerings will pale in comparison to that which will be available from a small fleet of Durham's premier vehicular food purveyors. Eight food trucks, representing everything from cupcakes to crepes, from dumplings to burgers and barbecue, are setting up shop in the concourse. If you have a ticket to the game, then you have access to the trucks. It's that simple, and if this promo is a success, expect the Bulls to make like R. Crumb and Keep On Truckin'.

Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League) Tribute to Disco Demolition Night, July 12 tickets
The White Sox's "Disco Demolition Night" was, quite simply, one of the most disastrous promotions ever staged. A festering hatred of disco combined with an increasing lack of faith in the established social order resulted in a riotous stew of youthful discontent and burning vinyl, and America was never quite the same. On Saturday the Fort Myers Miracle celebrate the 34th anniversary of this on-field travesty with GM Andrew Seymour reporting that the evening will be "disco and Donna Summers-free. There will be no explosives or people rappelling down foul poles, … but it will be memorable." Expect further details to be announced shortly, and expect them to be entertaining. After all, the Miracle are co-owned by Mike Veeck, the mastermind behind the original "Disco Demolition Night."

Kannapolis Intimidators (South Atlantic League) Salute to the Piedmont Boll Weevils, July 13 tickets
Boll Weevils Cue up the EMF, because the Intimidators are declaring Saturday's promotion to be nothing short of "Unbollweevible." It's "Turn Back the Clock Night," during which the team will take the field as its previous incarnation, the Piedmont Boll Weevils (the "Intimidators" name was adopted in 2001). Fans who show up wearing their old Boll Weevils gear can get into the park for $5, while concession prices will be rolled back to 1999 levels. Fried boll weevils will not be on offer, unfortunately, but what's to stop you from doing it yourself as part of a pre-game tailgating party?

Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) Salute to the Flyover, July 13 tickets
Pregame military flyovers were one of the casualties of this winter's round of federal budget cuts, meaning that teams in search of aerial wizardry now have to take a more creative approach. On Saturday, the Omaha Storm Chasers are doing just this with the decidedly tongue-in-cheek "Salute to the Flyover." The first 500 fans through the gates receive a glider, the pre-game entertainment consists of a remote controlled airplane flyover, and in-game highlights include a paper airplane competition. This promotion has wings and, come to think of it, the Storm Chasers should definitely play some choice cuts from 1973's seminal "Band On the Run" LP while they're at it.

Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) Extreme Midget Wrestling/Growth Chart Giveaway, July 13 tickets
Horribly offensive or delightfully irreverent? You be the judge! On Saturday the Northwest Arkansas Naturals are staging a pre-game "Midget Wrestling Extravaganza" and, even better (or is that worse?) they're also giving away growth charts. What's next? A headphones giveaway on "Deafness Awareness Night"? "Salute to Vegetarians" sponsored by McDonald's? Mick Foley as a special guest on "Stop the Violence Night? I can think of many other such examples, but none of them seem suitable for a family-oriented column such as this one.

Into the Ellipse…

Because why stop when you can keep going? Here are even more exemplary promotional efforts scheduled to occur this week…

  • David DahlJuly 10: Ravens kicker Justin Tucker appears at the Bowie Baysox game, and the team will be giving away "bobble-legs" in his honor.
  • July 11: I'm still holding out hope that one day a team will give away a Roald Dahl bobblehead. Until then, the Grand Junction Rockies David Dahl bobblehead will have to do. … You want celebrity appearances? The Northwest League has got 'em, as Don Larsen makes his annual appearance in Salem-Keizer while Tim Raines graces Vancouver with his presence.
  • July 12: The Frederick Keys are giving away a hot tub to one lucky fan. Just add water. … In Missoula, the Osprey honor their region's volunteer firefighters with, you guessed it, a volunteer firefighter bobblehead giveaway. … Before he was an NFL star, Russell Wilson was a Rockies farmhand. The Tri-City Dust Devils, for whom he once played, are therefore giving away Russell Wilson bobbleheads.
  • Russell WilsonJuly 13: Actor Corbin Bernsen, who memorably played Roger Dorn in the movie Major League, visits the Akron Aeros on an evening in which the team is giving away Roger Dorn snow globes. … The Charleston RiverDogs are distributing T-shirts bearing the likeness of co-owner/ambassador of fun/local resident Bill Murray. Yes, that Bill Murray. … In Huntsville, the Stars begin another round of the annual endurance test that is "Car Survivor." … In Las Vegas you've got to know when to fold 'em, which is perhaps why the 51s are giving away team-logo folding chairs. ... For a truly no-strings attached promotion, check out the Myrtle Beach Pelicans' "Air Guitar Giveaway."
  • July 14: The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor is celebrating his birthday the only way he knows how: by having the Reading Fightin Phils give away a Crazy Hot Dog Vendor "Pillow Buddy" to the young fans in attendance.
  • July 15: Nihilists and those appreciative of existential voids in general will thrill to the Lake Elsinore Storm's annual "Nothing Night." No admission fee, no concession stands, no music, no between-inning promos. Just baseball.


This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.