Blue Jays hope to 'blow' record away

Smoltz visits Gwinnett, 'Topes honor one of their own with doll

Will Dunedin Blue Jays fans be able to set a bubble-blowing world record? (Emily Jones/

By Benjamin Hill / | May 22, 2012 6:53 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."

Talk about a contradiction in terms: the Dunedin Blue Jays are attempting to set a new world record on Friday evening, and the only way they can succeed is by blowing it.

In addition to its inherently paradoxical nature, the record attempt in question is a natural fit for a baseball environment: most people simultaneously blowing a gum bubble. The current record stands at a none-too-imposing 307, but setting this record will involve a lot more than simply handing out bubble gum and then instructing fans to blow in unison.

Craig Durham, Dunedin's communications coordinator, puts it like this: "They sure don't make it easy."

"They," in this case, would be the folks at Guinness World Records. For the not-so-economical cost of £4,500 ($7,118 USD) plus travel expenses, the company will send one of its employees to verify a record attempt onsite. This is a bit outside a Florida State League team's promotional budget even with a favorable exchange rate, so the Blue Jays are going to document the attempt to the best of their abilities and then send the results across the pond.

"We're going to have stewards on hand -- independent agents, basically -- who will each be responsible for watching a certain amount of people and then signing a form saying they witnessed it," said Durham. "Plus, we'll be sending a lot of photos and video."

Logistical hassles notwithstanding, the team believes that they'll be able to recruit a sufficient number of fans to take part.

"We've been hanging posters downtown and have informed our business partners," said Durham, who explained that the promotion is a result of an offseason staff brainstorming session. "We have it all over our social media -- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube -- it's all hands on deck."

The attempt will take place after the fourth inning, with participants chewing on a yet-to-be-announced brand of gum provided by the local Walgreens. All involved will have to work quickly and follow directions; there will be little margin for error.

"Everyone needs to chew for a full minute, then blow the bubble, seal it, and have it stay blown for 30 seconds," said Durham. "I think we can do it."

Immortality awaits.

Survival of the thirstiest

Most athletic events require at least a shred of stamina and skill but not what the Bowie Baysox are staging prior to Saturday's ballgame. It's the first annual "1K Beer Run," which the team is advertising as a good way to "[enjoy] a cold beer while also getting some exercise before watching a Baysox game."

True, but it'll also be a good way to work up a nice pre-game buzz. Participants will make three laps around the field at Prince George's Stadium, receiving a 12-ounce beer at the beginning of each. The event is open to the first 100 fans who sign up (21 and over, of course), and is part of an $18 ticket package that includes the race, beer, and admission to that evening's ballgame.

A beer-centric event requiring even less mobility is taking place in Northwest Arkansas on Friday, as the Naturals host their second annual "BeerFest." A $21 ticket grants admission to the team's Miller Party Shack area, and 30 premium brews will be available for conscientious quaffing therein.

Embracing the stereotype

Some West Virginians might take umbrage at being called "rednecks," but there are those who wholeheartedly embrace the label. That latter demographic will be out in full force at Saturday's West Virginia Power game, as the team is staging -- you guessed it -- "Redneck Night."

The evening is highlighted by a formidable lineup of guests: Cowboy Monkey Rodeo (of "monkey riding a dog herding sheep" fame) and Steve "world's strongest redneck" McGranahan. The former act is well known to Minor League Baseball fans, but as for McGranahan? His website explains that he "destroys household objects with life lessons behind them," and while this might not provide the clearest example of his skills, it sure does sound intriguing.

And as if this redneck-approved double-bill wasn't enough, the first 1,000 fans through the gates receive a team-logo camouflage hat.

Meet the author

During his 21-season Major League career, John Smoltz won 213 games and saved 154 more. He's since taken the time to write about all of it in a just-released memoir with the apt title Starting and Closing. Gwinnett Braves fans with literary tendencies and a desire to meet one of the greatest pitchers in Atlanta history should be in attendance on Friday, as Smoltz will be on hand to sign copies of the book for all who are moved to purchase one.

This week in undulating appendages

Most player bobbleheads issued by Minor League teams pay homage to alumni who went on to Major League stardom. A rarer, and arguably more interesting iteration, is that which honors a player who excelled while playing for the team in question.

That's what occurring in Albuquerque on Monday, as the Isotopes are distributing 3,000 Jason Wood bobbleheads. Wood played just 152 games over five Major League seasons, but from 2003-06 (and again in 2008) he was an Albuquerque standout. Wood sits atop the franchise record books in a host of offensive categories -- including home runs (60) and RBIs (328) -- and last season he became the first Isotopes player to be inducted into the Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.

Other bobbleheads of note this week:

  • Dino Ciccarelli (Great Lakes Loons, May 23): For the second straight season, the Loons are honoring hometown hockey heroes with the "Red Wings Legends" series. Ciccarelli, a defensemen, qualifies as one such legend.
  • Jake Arrieta (Bowie Baysox, May 24): In honor of a former Baysox pitcher and current stalwart of the Baltimore rotation.
  • Alex Avila (West Michigan Whitecaps, May 25): Let it be known that this bobblehead features superbly rendered facial stubble.
  • Michael Choice (Stockton Ports, May 26): At Saturday's Stockton Ports game, fans won't be able to choose which bobblehead they go home with. But they will have Choice.

Into the ellipse...

An exceedingly brief rundown of other notable promotions taking place this week. As it turns out, they'll all be taking place Thursday-Saturday...

May 24: "thgiN sdrawkcaB" egats skwaHteJ retsacnaL ehT. ... In Myrtle Beach, the Pelicans celebrate the release of Men in Black III with a sunglasses giveaway. ... Peoria's O'Brien Field is now 10 years old, and to commemorate the anniversary the Chiefs are taking the field in throwback jerseys. ... Talk about something for everyone: the Round Rock Express are hosting a "Mommy and Baby Expo" on Thirsty Thursday. ... The West Michigan Whitecaps bring back their popular Pink Floyd promotion, in which the players take the field in jerseys from the Dark Side of the Moon.

May 25: One day after their Men in Black giveaway, the Pelicans switch gears and give away team-logo laptop sleeves on "Nerd Night". ... The Richmond Flying Squirrels "Parker Planter Pet" giveaway is, basically, a Chia Pet with the pet in question being a pig.

May 26: Speaking of strange pets, the Charleston RiverDogs' Pillow Pet giveaway features mascot Charlie T. RiverDog in huggable mini-pillow form. ... The New Orleans Zephyrs welcome Saints running back Chris Ivory to the stadium for a meet and greet... The Flying Squirrels one-up the "Parker Plant Pet" giveaway with a "Human Cannonball" promo. As in, a man will be shot from a cannon.

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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