Fourth time's the charm: It's the 2017 Bizzies

Annual awards pay homage to Minor Leagues' endless weirdness

The 2017 Bizzies pay tribute to the memorably bizarre experiences that can be enjoyed at Minor League Baseball stadiums nationwide.

By Benjamin Hill / | November 9, 2017 10:00 AM

Admittedly arbitrary and thoroughly undemocratic -- but a whole lot of fun. 

These words, perhaps more than any others, define the Bizzie Awards. The Bizzies, being bestowed for the fourth consecutive season, pay homage to the innumerable ways in which Minor League teams deliver memorably bizarre game day experiences. As is the case every year, the awards go to teams whom Benjamin Hill -- a.k.a. Ben's Biz -- visited during the season. Their sheer randomness is a reflection of the sheer randomness of Minor League baseball. Thus, they make perfect sense by making no sense at all.  

To all of the winning teams, a thorough congratulations is in order. To all the rest, there's always next year. Now let's get down to biz-ness! 

Best Audible, Albeit Non-Verbal, Mascot: Bernie (Inland Empire 66ers)

Most mascots are silent creatures and, thus, they overcompensate with near-constant expressions of exaggerated body language. But Bernie, longtime mascot of the Inland Empire 66ers, is a different breed. Originally from Utah, Bernie is as physically demonstrative as his mascot counterparts. But Bernie punctuates his antics with frequent, high-pitched whoops. It's truly a sound to behold. 

Tweet from @bensbiz: Bernie says goodnight, @66ersBaseball


Best Not-For-Sale Team Store Item: Disembodied Teddy Roosevelt Head (Frisco RoughRiders)

When the Frisco RoughRiders rebranded prior to the 2015 season, they went all-in on Teddy Roosevelt. Thus, the team store is laden with Teddy-themed souvenirs and apparel. But there is one item in the store that's not for sale because only one exists: a Teddy's head plush doll. If such an item appeals to you, contact the team and demand it gets this prototype into mass production as soon as possible. Tweet from @bensbiz: This "Teddy head plush doll" is a prototype.Retweet if you want @RidersBaseball to sell them. Like this tweet to never speak of it again


Best Undefeated (and Since Retired) Racing Mammal: Ace, the Fastest Squirrel in the World (Lake Elsinore Storm)

From 2012-17, Lake Elsinore's Ace the Fastest Squirrel in the World took on all challengers in an across-the-outfield sprint. He never lost (unless he was sabotaged) because he is ... the Fastest Squirrel in the World. But all things must come to an end and, as the 2017 season wound down, Ace announced his retirement. He leaves behind a legacy of frustrated opponents, who were forced to stare at a fast-receding bushy tail as Ace coasted to yet another victory. Ben Hill was one such opponent, despite his misplaced pre-race confidence. 

Tweet from @bensbiz: Ready to hand @Fast_Squirrel his first defeat in sprint across the field.

Best Triumvirate of Concession Kiosk Offerings: Great Falls Voyagers

It's an all-too-common problem: you're with your family at a Minor League baseball game. One person wants a smoked brisket sandwich, one wants mini donuts and another wants frozen yogurt. This necessitates trips to three separate concession stands, greatly cutting into time which your family can spend together. The Great Falls Voyagers are to be commended, then, as the team has a kiosk located down the third base side at Centene Stadium that features smoked brisket, mini donuts and frozen yogurt. The amount of time saved at this one-stop shop is truly immeasurable. 

Tweet from @bensbiz: At a @gfvoyagers game, you can simultaneously fulfill all your brisket, mini-donut and frozen yogurt desires for $18.50.

Best Journey to the Press Box: Kindrick Legion Field (Helena Brewers)

The Helena Brewers are entering their final season; in 2019, the Pioneer League club will relocate to Colorado Springs. This means that there's one year left for area scribes, broadcasters, scorekeepers and hangers-on to enjoy the harrowing, creaky, vertigo-inducing journey to Kindrick Legion Field's rooftop press box. Those daring enough to have made the trip have stories to last a lifetime. 

Tweet from @bensbiz: Come with me on a harrowing the @helenabrewers press box.

Best Undulating Appendage: Thing-a-ma-bobble (Orem Owlz)

The Orem Owlz have won five Pioneer League championships. The human hand has five fingers. Coincidence? Absolutely. But this confluence of on-field success and anatomy inspired the Owlz to distribute one of the most bizarre giveaways of the year. The July 1 "Thing-a-ma-bobble'" featured a (more or less) life-sized hand, with each bobbling finger sporting an Owlz ring. Truly, it's a work of art. 

 Tweet from @bensbiz: Give a hand to the @OremOwlz, who are giving away this championship ring-laden "Thing-a-ma-bobble" Saturday.

Best Dispatch From An Alternate Reality: Foodstuffs Trading Places (Reading Fightin Phils)

What are cheeseburgers shaped like? An appropriate, if tautologicial, response is that cheeseburger are shaped like cheeseburgers. But at Reading's FirstEnergy Stadium, cheeseburgers are not shaped like cheeseburgers -- at least not at one outfield concession stand, which warns that "Cheeseburgers Are Hot Dog Shaped!" But if a cheeseburger is shaped like a hot dog, is it a cheeseburger at all? And if we accept the existence of such a thing, what other dearly held assumptions are we prepared to have upended? It's all too much to bear.  

Tweet from @bensbiz: Everything you know is wrong.

Best Risk-Taking Alcoholic Beverage Purchase Option: Mystery Beer (Charleston RiverDogs)

If your sense of adventure is as high as your funds are low, then the RiverDogs' "Mystery Beer" shack is for you. Step up to this unassuming structure and pass $2 through a curtain. You will be rewarded with a beer of someone else's choice. It might be the best beer you've ever had in your life, it might be the worst. It probably won't be either. But the anticipation leading to the purchase will make it all worth it, regardless. 

Tweet from @bensbiz: Mystery Beer, $2 @ChasRiverDogs

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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