ALTOONA -- The cheesy puns have been showing up in newspaper headlines about Altoona Curve manager Tim Leiper since he arrived in Altoona prior to the 2006 season: Another Leip Year for the Curve. Leip Year Again at Blair County Ballpark.
However, in 2008, for the first time during his three-year managerial tenure with the Curve, Leiper will manage the team during an actual Leap Year, or a year in which there are 366 days on the calendar. As a result, "Leip," as he is most frequently called around the Curve clubhouse, has agreed to ditch the No. 47 jersey he wore in 2007, and in honor of "Leip Year" (as it will be spelled from this point forward by the Curve), has announced that he will don No. 29 for the duration of the 2008 Eastern League season.
"I've never been the kind of guy who had to wear a certain jersey number, so for the sake of good fun and in honor of 'Leip Year' I have agreed to wear the No. 29 jersey this season," said Leiper from Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., where he is assisting the Pirates' Major League coaches with spring training. "My only concern is that I hope the jersey fits because if not, I might be forced to go on an emergency diet before the start of the season."
In addition to Leiper wearing No. 29 throughout the season, the Curve have set aside their April 29 game against the Harrisburg Senators as "Leip Year for Leiper Night" at Blair County Ballpark. Throughout that night's 6:35 p.m. contest, the Curve will pay tribute to "Leip Year" in several ways:
-- Anyone born on February 29, also known as a "leapling," will receive a free game ticket and will throw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to the game, which will be caught by "Leip" himself.
-- Fans will be able to buy tickets in the specially marked "Section 29" or "Leip Section" of the Grandstand Level (300 Level), where the first 150 fans to purchase a ticket in that section will receive a 29 percent discount. Fans in that section will be saluted every four innings.
-- Fans will be encouraged to wear their favorite No. 29 sports team jerseys. (Hey Steeler fans, dust off those circa 1992 Barry Foster jerseys!)
-- Throughout the game, the Curve will honor famous people born on February 29, such as Pope John Paul III, noted motivational speaker Tony Robbins and rapper Ja Rule.
-- Any Curve player who finishes the April 29 game with an overall season average of .366 (symbolizing the fact that a Leap Year consists of 366 days) will receive $366 from the Curve.
-- Special tributes to events and occurrences that happen only once every four years or longer, such as the Olympic Games and astronomical events such as lunar eclipses and comets.
Along with the items specific to the April 29 game at Blair County Ballpark, the Curve will also run season-long promotions tied into "Leip Year." Among the "Leip Year" promotions that will take place throughout the 2008 season are:
-- If any home game during the season becomes a "Leip Game" (extra innings), then all fans who stay until the end of that game receive 29 percent off Curve merchandise at the Curve Stockyard team store at Blair County Ballpark.
-- Fans at Blair County Ballpark can sign up as part of the nightly "Leip Batter" contest. If the Curve's 29th batter each night hits a home run, then one lucky fan will win a Curve prize package, including tickets, merchandise and other Curve memorabilia.
-- "Leip Frog" will be a recurring in-between inning contest throughout the 2008 season.
-- If the Curve score 29 runs, get 29 hits or record 29 strikeouts in any game, then fans will be witnessing an amazing baseball feat and the Curve will be required to come up with a big prize for one lucky fan in attendance that night!
The Curve's complete 2008 promotional schedule will be released throughout next week leading up to Curve TicketPalooza on Saturday, March 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Blair County Ballpark. TicketPalooza will feature several fun, day-long, ballpark activities surrounding the first day of single-game ticket sales for the 2008 season. For more information on Curve TicketPalooza 2008, fans should visit AltoonaCurve.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.