Bandits' unique jerseys benefit charity

More "Bobblelections" coming, while Springer, Elvis honored

Fort Myers will allow Miracle fans to vote for a 2012 candidate via bobblehead dolls.

By Benjamin Hill / | August 7, 2012 6:44 AM ET

Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. Every Tuesday we'll preview the week ahead, highlighting the best and brightest (not to mention strangest) that the industry has to offer. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature, please send it to with the subject line "Promo Preview."

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then the promotion that the Quad Cities River Bandits have planned for Friday is worth 198,000.

In a Minor League Baseball first, the River Bandits will be taking the field in so-called "Photo Jerseys." Each player's number will be divided into tiny squares (.298 inches by .315, to be specific), and each of these squares will feature a photo of a Quad Cities River Bandits fan. Throughout the game, the jerseys will be auctioned off, with the proceeds from the auction and the sale of the jersey squares benefiting a triumvirate of local cancer charities: Genesis Foundations, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Quad Cities and Gilda's Club Quad Cities.

The cancer awareness aspect of the promotion goes further than the organizations that will benefit. Friday is "Cancer Awareness Night," and the team has therefore suggested that the photos on the jerseys depict "a loved one who has been affected by cancer."

The promotion is the brainchild of River Bandits director of marketing and promotions Shane Huff, who was inspired to bring photo jerseys to Minor League Baseball after "stumbling across the idea online."

"I saw a story on a European soccer team that had done this," said Huff. "This was not something that had ever been done in the states, and through brainstorming with the front-office staff, we decided that this would be a great way to raise money for charity."

Huff characterizes the photo jerseys as a "learning process" for both the River Bandits and vendor OT Sports, who are producing them.

"On our end we have to find ways how to market this, and on their end they need coordinate with Minor League Baseball and make sure that they're following all of the guidelines," he said.

The response to the promotion has been positive thus far, especially from the charitable organizations involved as well as local media. However, not all of the available 198 photo squares have been sold. Huff attributes this to it being a "difficult concept to explain," and says that any unsold squares will depict the team mascot or in-game action shots. But, in the long run, this is a promotion that seems destined for success.

"I think once fans see the finished product, and the players wearing them on the field, the reaction will be 'Now I understand. That's an awesome idea.'"

Democracy via the distribution of bobbleheads

The photo jerseys aren't the only notable endeavor on the River Bandits' promo schedule this week. On Sunday the team is staging a "Presidential Election Bobblehead," in which fans get to choose between an undulating figurine featuring either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. One thousand will be available of each candidate, and whoever runs out first is declared the winner. Similar such endeavors are taking place throughout the Minors, but the undisputed kings of this promotion is the Goldklang Group.

All five teams that fall under the Goldklang Group's ownership umbrella are staging a "Bobblection" this month, and each of these franchises has invited another team from its league to join them. This makes a whopping 10 official "Bobblections" that will be taking place, starting with the independent Pittsfield Suns this past Monday and continuing on through the Fort Myers Miracle on Aug. 30. Prior bobblections (in 2004 and 2008) have accurately predicted the eventual winner, and the Goldklang Group is confident that this will once again be the case. Reads the press release:

"Forget the Gallop polls. CNN and Fox News can stay home. It doesn't matter one iota what the professional, suit-wearing prognosticators say, as all they need to do is focus their attention on BOBBLECTION."

All hail the king

"There's a whole lot of shakin' goin' on" can apply to any bobblehead promotion but doubly so when the bobblehead honoree in question is The King himself. The first 5,000 fans in attendance at Friday's Memphis Redbirds game will indeed receive Elvis bobbleheads, and these giveaways are part of a larger "Elvis Night" promotion. "Elvis Night" is part of a city-wide kick-off celebration for "Elvis Week," an annual Memphis festival that pays tribute to the life and legacy of, you guessed it, Elvis Presley.

All hail the former mayor of Cincinnati

Jerry Springer is a busy man, as his eponymous talk show is still churning out episodes with titles such as "Oiled Up For a Smackdown," "Sisters Square Off" and "The Recession Made Me Cheat." But he'll nonetheless take the time to make a (hopefully) family-friendly appearance at Northwest Arkansas' Arvest Ballpark on Friday, courtesy of the local CW affiliate that airs his show. Springer will throw out a first pitch, sign autographs, sing during the seventh-inning stretch and lead the countdown to fireworks at the conclusion of the ballgame, which is also doubling as an evening-long "Salute to First Responders." In this case, does that mean Steve the Bodyguard?

Into the ellipse...

A brief rundown of other notable promotions taking place this week...

  • Aug. 8: It's "Bacon Night" in Fort Myers, as the Miracle will be offering bacon-wrapped everything. ... The Orem Owlz are staging "The Real Housewives of Orem" night, which may or may not include recently impregnated mascot Holly.
  • Aug. 9: The Lakewood BlueClaws honor their indomitable manager (and former Olympian) Mickey Morandini with t-shirts bearing his name. ... Toby Keith will be at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans game (in spirit, at least), as the Pelicans are staging "Salute to the Red Solo Cup." ... In Trenton, the Thunder add another dimension to their fireworks display with, you guessed it, 3D fireworks.
  • Aug. 10: The Delmarva Shorebirds host their annual "Crab Feast." Life doesn't get any better. ... In Potomac, the Nationals pay tribute to their past by donning the uniforms of the Alexandria Dukes.
  • Aug. 11: The Charleston RiverDogs distribute polka-dot boxers, inspired by the ones worn by Bark the tree mascot. ... It's "What Could've Been Night" in Lehigh Valley, in which the IronPigs become the actually-less-ridiculous "Woodchucks."
  • Aug. 12: Motorcyclists descend upon Spokane's Avista Stadium for the Indians' "Ride the Bases" extravaganza.
  • Aug. 13: Eh, I've seen better.
  • Aug. 14: One year after their "Chooching Owl" giveaway, the Reading Phillies distribute Carlos Ruiz "Chooching Trains." ... The Bowie Baysox are nothing if not accurate, as the team is celebrating "1/2 Way to Valentine's Day."

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

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