On Friday, the Bowie Baysox will once again change their name to the Bowie Baysox. The spelling remains the same; the difference is in how you say it. "Boo-ie," the proper way to enunciate the name of Maryland's third-largest city, becomes "Boh-ee."
This pronunciation oddity is one of many layers within the Baysox's "David Bowie Tribute and 70th Birthday Celebration," a shape-shifting homage to the massively influential British pop icon. Friday's celebration marks the second time the Double-A Baltimore Orioles affiliate has staged such a promotion.
"When Bowie passed away [in January 2016] it was like, 'Why don't we do this?' It was a Eureka moment and made us wonder what had taken us so long," said Baysox promotions manager Chris Rogers. "And the huge thing with David Bowie was the many personas he took on. What better way to honor that in Minor League Baseball than with a specialty jersey?"
Rogers said that, if it were up to him, the "entire team would dress up as icicle clowns from the "Ashes to Ashes" video.
"My enthusiasm was tampered down a bit within the front office," he said. "But we wanted to make sure we were paying homage, and wanted to make sure they looked good. This year's jersey design is an amalgamation of a Ziggy Stardust outfit and the Union Jack flag. There's a lot of red in there."
Friday's theme jerseys share aesthetic similarities with 2016's iteration, which attracted interest from David Bowie fans all over the country as well as Europe. The jerseys will be auctioned off during the game as well as via a post-game online auction with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society. (Bowie died at the age of 69 as a result of liver cancer.)
As for the game itself, the Baysox are planning a multimedia David Bowie celebration.
"He's got a big enough catalog that every single player will have special walk-up music," said Rogers. "And we can punctuate strikeouts with [lyric snippets} "break down and cry" [from "Young Americans"] and "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" [from "Suffragette City"].
"We'll have [between-inning] dress-up races, with wigs and dress shirts and crazy pants, lots of trivia going on and people doing their best to sing and finish the lyrics. And the fireworks will be to Bowie-themed music. It's gonna be a complete immersion in the experience that is David Bowie. Much more than Space Oddity. The entire catalog."
For Rogers, the promotion is worth the pronunciation confusion it will undoubtedly engender.
"Even after all these years, so many people pronounce Bowie [Maryland] as 'Boh-ee,'" he said. "I feel like a salmon fighting upstream. So it'll be relaxing to just go with the flow for a day, and the next day fight the good fight all over again."
Coming Soon! Hey man! There's much more going on this week than immersive salutes to chameleonic British music legends. What follows are just some of many Minor League Baseball promotional standouts.
July 27: It's "What If Night" in Hartford, so the Yard Goats will give away Hartford Praying Mantis caps. This begs the question: What's the plural of "Mantis"?
The Kane County Cougars' 25th anniversary Wayne's World celebration is highlighted by the distribution of bobbleheads featuring Wayne Campbell himself.
The Cougars aren't the only team paying homage to an oft-quoted Mike Myers film. The Richmond Flying Squirrels' Austin Powers-referencing "Yeah Baby, Night" features an appearance by Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer.
The Tri-City ValleyCats' "Best of Minor League Baseball Night" is a showcase of "the best ideas from all around Minor League Baseball." How they'll back all of these ideas into the span of nine innings remains a mystery.
July 28: The Fresno Grizzlies kick off the seventh iteration of their signature promotion, the Taco Truck Throwdown. The team will assume their "Tacos" alter-ego and take the field in "Taco-uila Sunrise" jerseys. Over 40 area taco trucks are expected to be on hand, as will competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels plan to transform vice president Todd "Parney" Parnell into a "human hot dog" by smothering him in six pounds of ketchup, mustard and relish. Parney's postgame metamorphosis from man to frankfurter is a "showing of solidarity" to support a local eighth-grader's quest to fight teenage mental illness.
An influx of Texans will be descending upon Cooperstown this weekend to witness Jeff Bagwell's induction into the Hall of Fame. The Tri-City ValleyCats, a New York-based Houston affiliate, are making these fans feel welcome with a Texas-sized night of "Boots, BBQ and Baseball."
July 29: It's "Christmas in July" in Harrisburg, and the Senators are celebrating via the distribution of "Santa [Matt] LeCroy" bobblebellies.
The Jackson Generals commemorate the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" over the span of a single night, as they'll take the field wearing "Shark Week" jerseys featuring a hungry Great White and a seemingly unfortunate scuba diver.
Stephen Strasburg's Potomac Nationals' tenure may have been limited to a single 2011 rehab start, but that's not stopping the team from immortalizing his "unparalleled power arm." The first 1,250 fans in attendance receive "Stephen Strasburg Flamethrower bobbleheads."
The Sacramento River Cats pay homage to their city's "Farm to Fork" agriculture culture by suiting up as the "Sacramento Tomatoes."
"Bruceclaws Night," the Lakewood BlueClaws' long-running celebration of Bruce Springsteen, now includes a "Born to Run Beer Mile." The first individual to complete three laps and three beers wins.
July 30: One day in advance of hosting the Northwest League All-Star Game, the Hillsboro Hops will stage a "Largest Game of Catch World Record Attempt" during their Family Fan Fest. No fewer than 1,200 pairs of fans are needed to break the record; the first 1,000 receive a ball commemorating this hopefully successful attempt.