Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays for the entire season, we'll preview 10 of the most intriguing for the week ahead. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature in the future, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Salute to the Southeastern Conference, Aug. 24
Football is king in Florida, and with the college season rapidly approaching, the Miracle are adopting an "If you can't beat 'em, make fun of 'em approach." Wednesday is the team's "Salute to the Southeastern Conference," featuring pregame tailgating, a [Georgia] bulldog delivering the first pitch, Tennessee whisky on the party deck and cowbells aplenty in honor of the University of Mississippi (Texas A&M fans will have to sit outside the stadium, however, as their school has yet to be admitted to the conference). The conference's less-than-rigorous education requirements will be lampooned as well, with fake diplomas handed out at the gates and a "homework station" on the concourse for those not willing or able to complete their scholastic requirements.
Visalia Rawhide (California League)
Kirby Puckett Bobblehead, Aug. 24
'80s Night Tipper Bobblehead, Aug. 28
The Rawhide have gone bobblehead-crazy in August, giving away five during the month and two this week alone. The first 500 fans in attendance Wednesday receive an undulating figurine featuring Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, who played his first full professional season as a member of the 1983 Visalia Oaks. The '80s will again be a focus Sunday, as the team is giving away bobbleheads featuring mascot Tipper in preppy 1980s-style apparel. This is the fourth and final zeitgeist-embodying giveaway featuring the bobbling bovine, who has also been depicted as a '50s doo-wopper, '60s hippie and '70s disco maniac.
Danville Braves (Appalachian League)
Mayberry Deputy Appearance, Aug. 25
Deputy Barney Fife is one of the iconic characters in sitcom history, an Andy Griffith Show regular played to loose-limbed, bug-eyed perfection by Don Knotts. Though Knotts passed away five years ago, his spirit lives on in the form of character actor David "The Mayberry Deputy" Browning. Browning makes several promotional appearances in the Andy Griffith-friendly Appy League each season, improvising his way through the ballpark in full Deputy Fife regalia. On Thursday he brings his act to Danville, which "Mayberry" well be the team's most anticipated promotion of the season.
Everett AquaSox (Northwest League)
Campos' Court, Aug. 25
The roster of the 2003 Everett AquaSox was highlighted by 17-year-old Felix Hernandez, now a reigning Cy Young Award winner with his own "King's Court" rooting section at Seattle's Safeco Field. The AquaSox have created their version of the "King's Court" in response, one that pays homage to their latest right-handed teenage Venezuelan flamethrower. That would be Jose Campos, and fans wishing to cheer him on this Thursday can purchase tickets in the "Campos Court" section of the ballpark. Everyone seated in the court receives a Campos "K" sign (so that it may be waved enthusiastically every time he gets to two strikes on a batter), and these ardent rooters will also be eligible to win Campos-themed prizes throughout the evening.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League)
Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Champions Day, Aug. 25
The Fisher Cats may be a Toronto affiliate, but the team's Granite State fan base lives and breathes Boston sports. Thursday is "Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Champions Day" at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, a celebration of their 2011 championship as well as the illustrious history of the NHL franchise. Mascot Blades and the Bruin Ice Girls will be in attendance, and a plethora of NHL memorabilia is slated to be distributed throughout the evening. It all kicks off with a triumvirate of Bruins legends -- Johnny "Pie" McKenzie, Ken Hodge and Don Marcotte -- taking to the pitcher's mound in order to hit a baseball with a hockey stick into an empty net behind home plate.
Frederick Keys (Carolina League)
Art in the Park with "Bumble Keys" Jerseys, Aug. 26
The Keys might be the first team in history to willingly associate themselves with the word "Bumble," but they're doing so for a good cause. Friday is "Art in the Park Night" at Harry Grove Stadium, with the hometown team suiting up in yellow and black "Bumble Keys" jerseys designed by a local artist (they'll be auctioned off after the game to benefit the Frederick Arts Council). Fans are encouraged to donate art supplies, and local arts organizations will have informational displays on the concourse. And, perhaps most intriguingly, local artist Vince Coates will "allow kids and other interested parties a chance to throw paint balls at a canvas, creating unique pieces of artwork." Finally, we can all tap into our inner Picasso.
Lake County Captains (Midwest League)
Adult Fantasy Baseball Camp, Aug. 26-28
"Adult Fantasy" content is generally forbidden here on MiLB.com, but an exception can be made when the adult fantasy in question is a baseball camp staffed by a bevy of retired baseball professionals. The Captains are hosting the second annual such camp at Eastlake Park this weekend, open to baseball fans age 30 and up (those whose professional baseball dreams are definitively dead, in other words). Campers receive personalized instruction from Cleveland Indians icons such as Joe Charboneau, Len Barker and Mike Hargrov, and then are able to put their recently acquired knowledge to the test while competing on Classic Park's professional-grade playing surface. Finally, an adult fantasy that everyone can enjoy.
Peoria Chiefs (Midwest League)
Cubs-Cardinals Rivalry Night with Reversible Stocking Cap Giveaway, Aug. 26
The Chiefs were a Cubs affiliate from 1985-95 but then switched to the Cardinals from 1996-2004 before re-affiliating themselves with the Cubs the following season. This is fitting, as Peoria's population is itself split between Cubs and Cardinals loyalists. The Chiefs are trying to appease both segments of the population with Friday's giveaway: a reversible beanie cap featuring the Cubs logo on one side and a Cardinals logo on the other. Fans will literally have to choose sides, then, making the giveaway the perfect complement to an evening-long celebration of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry. This enduring matchup will play out on the field as well, as the Chiefs' opponents are none other than the St. Louis-affiliated Quad Cities River Bandits.
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
Second Annual Good Deed Game, Aug. 27
Fans attending Saturday's Trenton Thunder game will have an abundance of outlets through which to channel their altruistic impulses. The team is staging five simultaneous charity drives, with blood, school supplies, food, toiletries and clothing all being collected. And while giving is its own reward, the Thunder are providing extra incentive for fans to dig deep. Those who donate to one drive get a ticket to the Sept. 1 ballgame, donating to two drives is good for the ticket and the opportunity to throw out a first pitch, three donations gets the aforementioned two items and a hat, four donations gets the aforementioned three items and free parking, and five donations gets the aforementioned four items and a food voucher. Got all that? Good. Now give while the getting's good!
Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League)
Mystery Ball Fundraiser for Luke Holko, Aug. 28
In 2009, four-year-old Luke Holko was struck by a foul ball while attending a Scrappers game and had to be put into a medically induced coma. The young fan has made a remarkable recovery since this harrowing moment, a process which is ongoing. As part of their efforts to ease the Holko family's financial burden, the Scrappers are hosting a "Mystery Ball" fundraiser during Sunday's game. All of the balls for sale will be autographed but have to be bought sight unseen. Candidates include Fausto Carmona, Brandon Wood, John Grabow and many more.
Bonus Coverage: Because there's no going back now, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but, of course, weren't:
Tribute to Jean Shorts (Reading Phillies, Aug. 19): Fans were encouraged to wear the titular item to the ballpark, with ticket discounts available to those named "Jean" or "Gene."
Tribute to Fred Friday (Rochester Red Wings, Aug. 19): The Red Wings long-time organist was honored prior to Friday's game, clearly the best day of the week in which to do so.
Tribute to Girl's Little League World Series Softball Champions (Clinton LumberKings, Aug. 20): In which the formidable squad from Sterling, Ill., was recognized for its prodigious success on the softball diamond.
Tribute to Bobby Jones (Round Rock Express, Aug. 20): The longtime skipper was honored pregame, in recognition of his 1,500th managerial victory.
Celine Dion Tribute Performer (Connecticut Tigers, Aug. 21): Singer Brigitte Valdez performed the National Anthem in a manner reminiscent of Canada's most over-emoting balladeer.
Tribute to Last Vietnam-era Active Duty Draftee (Huntsville Stars, Aug. 21): Jeffrey Mellinger was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1972. The Stars recognized him in a pregame ceremony, paying tribute to his nearly four decades of service.
Julia Klukey Appearance (Portland Sea Dogs, Aug. 22): Klukey is an Olympic luger, clearly on the fast track to success.