Clubs share ideas at Promo Seminar

Annual meeting recounts seasons' successes -- and failures

The Promo Seminar is a great place for clubs to bounce ideas off each other. (Mark Labban/MiLB)

By Benjamin Hill / | September 26, 2011 6:15 AM ET

The annual Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar took place over the weekend in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The three-day event is designed to showcase the best the industry has to offer and, in some cases, the worst.

It all started Saturday morning with "Around the Horn," a time-honored Promo Seminar tradition. A wireless microphone is passed around the conference room, with each attendee sharing his or her team's best and worst promotion of the season.

Examples from the latter category are often hilarious tales from the ballpark trenches that illuminate just how strange the world of Minor League Baseball can be. Examples included:

• The Phillie Phanatic getting hit by a line drive at a Lehigh Valley IronPigs game.

• The Hickory Crawdads' self-proclaimed worst fireworks show, consisting of fireworks playing on the videoboard.

• A "Jersey Shore" promotion staged by the Jackson Generals, unsuccessful because the vast majority of their western Tennessee fan base had never seen the show.

• A few confused fans dressing up as mass murderers as part of a "Superhero" theme night in Boise.

• Double-booked Elvis impersonators developing an increasingly intense rivalry with one another over the course of a Colorado Springs Sky Sox game.

• The first (and likely last) daytime fireworks show, staged by the Albuquerque Isotopes after wildfires in New Mexico forced them to move up the time of the game.

• A performance by the band Mini-Kiss in Vermont, marred by the unfortunate absence of Mini Gene Simmons.

But such is life in the Minor Leagues, and such is life itself: There's only so much you can control. Sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry, such as when the Pawtucket Red Sox moved up the time of a June game so fans could then watch the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup playoff game on the videoboard.

The result? A two-hour rain delay was followed by a 3 1/2-hour slugfest and the PawSox game ended after the Bruins' playoff contest, despite the early start time.

What can you do?

Myrtle Beach in the spotlight: Myrtle Beach's baseball profile soon will be increasing, thanks to HBO's popular (and gleefully obscene) baseball comedy, "Eastbound and Down." In the show's upcoming third season, main character Kenny Powers travels to South Carolina to suit up with the fictional Myrtle Beach Mermen. Several scenes were shot at BB&T Coastal Field over the course of last season, during periods when the town's real-life Minor League team -- the Pelicans -- was on the road.

How do you like them apples? Williamsport Crosscutters marketing vice president Gabe Sinicropi prefaced his presentation with the following George Bernard Shaw quote, one that sums quite succinctly up the Promotional Seminar's entire reason for existence: "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."

Speaking of apples (and ideas): The Fort Wayne TinCaps, named after the headwear of the legendary Johnny Appleseed, set a new standard on Opening Night when portions of the in-game entertainment were displayed on the videoboard in 3D. Michael Limmer, the team's vice president of marketing, gave a presentation in which he stressed the simplicity of the endeavor and encouraged other teams to follow suit. The 3D elements don't require any changes to the videoboard itself and glasses can be obtained for 5 cents each (the team ordered 10,000 for $500). The resulting publicity more than made up for the cost. When the TinCaps announced the promotion on March 24, 3,000 tickets had been sold for Opening Night. By the time the game was played two weeks later, the team had achieved a sellout at 7,100-seat Parkview Field.

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

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