The 2016 season hasn't ended yet, but the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes have announced a 2017 promotion that will, quite literally, eclipse all others.
A rare total solar eclipse will take place Aug. 21, 2017, the first coast-to-coast eclipse in the U.S. in nearly 100 years. Volcanoes Stadium is in the 67-mile wide "path of totality," making it an ideal location from which to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event. Therefore, the team has announced a Monday morning ballgame featuring a built-in, first-of-its-kind "eclipse delay."
During the eclipse delay, fans -- and the players on the field -- will wear team-logo eclipse safety glasses that will allow them to look straight at the sun as the moon begins to obscure it. The start time of the ballgame is yet to be determined, but it will most likely be somewhere between 9 and 9:30 a.m. (the team plans to serve breakfast at the ballpark). At approximately 10:15 a.m. -- 10:17:21 a.m., to be exact, according to nationaleclipse.com -- near-total darkness will occur as the moon aligns itself between the Earth and the sun. The "duration of totality" is one minute and 54 seconds, at the conclusion of which a slow return to normalcy begins. Within 15 minutes or so, once the skies have sufficiently brightened, the game will resume as if nothing out of the ordinary had even happened. Clearly, this will be a most surreal ballpark experience.
"We had received our schedule for next season and were thinking of events that tied into our games," said Volcanoes president of business operations Luke Emanuel. "Someone mentioned the eclipse. Two thirds of the room had no idea, but we did a bunch of research and realized we were in the path of totality. So we thought, 'How can we capitalize on this, when people can literally walk outside and view it?'"
A consultation with an enthusiastic NASA representative helped the Volcanoes learn the specifics of the phenomenon, which led them to plan the four-day "Eclipsefest" (tagline: Baseball-Brews-Blackout).
"People are coming in from all over for [the eclipse]. The hotels are already booked, so we're thinking of opening up our parking lot for RVs," Emanuel said. "And people already come to Oregon for microbrews and wine, so we said, 'How about getting all of these things in one location?' We'll do all the things that make Oregon great, at the best time of year to come visit."
For a certain subset of Americans, the intersection of astronomical phenomenon and our national pastime will be hard to resist.
"This is very unique," Emanuel said. "We're providing not just a chance to experience the eclipse but also to experience the first eclipse delay in baseball history."
Regularly Scheduled Programming
Normally, this column covers promotions of the "just occurred" or "just about to occur" variety. We now refer to a notable example of the former, which took place in Greensboro, North Carolina, this past Saturday. The Grasshoppers partnered with Wrangler (which has its headquarters in the city) and became the "Jeansboro" Grasshoppers. A faux-denim ensemble was the result.
Of all the promotions happening this coming week, three in particular caught my eye (and you know how painful that can be).
Thursday: The Toledo Mud Hens' "Elvis Tribute Night" has a distinct local connection as it serves as a 60th anniversary celebration of The King's 1955 concert at the Toledo Sports Arena. The team will take the field in specialty jerseys modeled after the outfit that Presley wore that night.
Friday: The "Triple-A teams changing their names to a regional food item" trend continues. In the grand tradition of the Fresno Tacos and Lehigh Valley Cheesesteaks, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are suiting up as the "Pierogis."
Saturday: Daytona, Florida's Minor League team is currently known as the "Tortugas." For Saturday's "Throwback Night" the team reverts to its erstwhile "Islanders" identity, which was employed from 1920-'24, '36-'66, '77 and '85-'86. For those keeping score at home, that's 36 seasons total.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter