Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays this season, we preview 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 [email protected] with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send a Tweet to @bensbiz, hashtag "#promopreview."
Drinking beer and watching baseball is a great combination. Drinking beer and running competitively? Maybe not so much.
But what if beer-drinking, competitive running and baseball could be combined into one, heretofore unknown combination? That's the unique formula that the Bowie Baysox have hit upon, via their regularly recurring "1K Beer Run" pregame competition.
This season's first (of two) 1K Beer Runs is scheduled for Sunday. The athletes involved -- and we're using the term "athletes" very loosely here -- must make three laps around the warning track at the Baysox's home of Prince George's Stadium. And, upon the completion of each lap, they must drink a 12 ounce can of Bud Light. Those wishing to become a chugging biathlete must register in advance; $18 covers the cost of both the race and a ticket to the ensuing ballgame.
"There is no better way to start off a fun afternoon of baseball than getting some exercise and a few drinks down on the field before the game," said Baysox assistant general manager Phil Wrye in a press release.
It's Wrye's job to say such a thing, but enthusiasm for this event has gone beyond the front office. I learned this first-hand last season, when a fan by the name of Mike Bryan sent in a full 1K Beer Race recap. Participants in Sunday's race would do well to heed Bryan's advice, as he was a 2014 1K Beer Race champion.
"If you are trying to win the race -- which my friends and I were -- you do not really enjoy the beer. We are all out of shape from our glory days of high school, so sprinting around an entire baseball field and then chugging a beer is no easy task," he wrote. "Since I am not the best beer chugger in the world, I decided to simply shotgun the beers after each lap. Although for about four or five seconds I felt terrible, I was able to quickly get back to the running part of the race."
If all of this seems like too much exertion on what should be a lazy Sunday afternoon, then take comfort in the fact that two teams -- Charleston and Memphis -- have staged "Zero K" races at the ballpark.
Watching baseball and a complete lack of running -- now that's a combination that everyone should be able to get behind.
Best of the Rest
Durham Bulls (International League)
Star Wars Night, May 16
Contrary to popular perception, we here at Promo Preview LLC are not obligated to include a Star Wars promo in each and every column. We just want to, simply because there are so many good ones out there. This week's highlight comes courtesy of the Durham Bulls, who have upped the ante by wearing not just Star Wars theme jerseys but an entire C-3PO theme uniform. The team describes the jerseys as a "re-creation of bolt-era C-3POs torso. "They are complemented by matching black and gold hats, gold pants and sublimated black and gold socks. Though their odds-making efforts may be clouded by institutional bias, the Bulls claim that "the possibility of having better Star Wars uniforms than us is approximately 3,720 to 1."
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Grizzly Music and Arts Festival, May 16
Fuzz, one of the many musical projects of San Francisco wunderkind Ty Segall, released one of 2013's best rock albums in the form of their eponymous debut LP. Sounding like a cross between Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Deep Purple, Fuzz pounds out multi-hued rock stompers that come fast and furious and leave total devastation in their wake. I mention this because Fuzz is playing Saturday's inaugural "Grizzly Music and Arts Festival" at Fresno's Chukchansi Park, which is quite simply the best team-curated non-baseball event to have ever existed at a Minor League ballpark. Fuzz'll be joined by Fashawn, Delta Spirit, Iamsu! and many more; it's all part of the Grizzlies' larger marketing strategy.
"For the evolution of the Grizzlies brand, it's important for us to stretch over to non-baseball events," said Grizzlies director of marketing Sam Hansen. "Triple-A baseball will always be at the core of what this organization is about, but recruiting and hosting an event such as a music and arts festival embodies the direction of where we're heading."
Gwinnett Braves (International League)
Clue Night, May 16
A riveting whodunit unfolded at the Gwinnett Braves' home of Coolray Field last June, as shaving cream can racer Stubs was found dead outside of the front gates. Six suspects soon emerged -- all of them characters from the board game Clue -- and fans were tasked with helping to solve this befuddling ballpark mystery. Terror will strike the Can family once again this Saturday, as "Clue Night" makes its return to the ballpark. Will Professor Plum once again be the culprit, or will a new villain emerge? Only one thing can be said about the suspect for sure: he, or she, hates these cans!
Charlotte Knights (International League)
Negro Leagues Tribute, May 17
Promotions featuring Negro League alumni, like those honoring World War II veterans, have taken on an increasingly greater significance in recent years. More than a half century after the last such leagues dissolved, there simply aren't very many of these guys left. Therefore, Knights fans should make sure to attend Sunday's "Negro Leagues Tribute" game, which features appearances by Negro League alumni Eddie "G.G." Burton, Luke Atkinson, James "B.D." Bland, Bill Cathcart and Carl "Satch" Forney. These appearances will be supplemented by a customized historical display courtesy of historian James Banks, which includes "photographs, baseball gear and other artifacts" designed to illuminate the experiences of these men as they competed in a pre-integration era of baseball history.
Because everything in moderation except Minor League promotions, here is a succinct roundup of even more notable events taking place this week.
May 14: The Tennessee Smokies stage "Zombie Prom Night," representing a rare opportunity to feast on brains while wearing formal attire.
May 15: It's "Foul Ball Night" in Buffalo, as the Bisons bestow various prizes upon fans fortunate to have snagged a ball while sitting in the stands. … The Bowling Green Hot Rods' "Up for Anything Night" celebrates the infinite potential of the human experience.
May 16: Noted cultural commentator John Rocker visits the Augusta GreenJackets. … The Frederick Keys pay tribute to their city's Minor League history via a "Salute to the Frederick Hustlers." … The Pensacola Blue Wahoos take the field in jerseys designed by aquatic art master Guy Harvey.
May 17: The Visalia Rawhide stage their annual "Belle of the Ballpark" competition, which is a far more dignified way of saying "Grandma Beauty Pageant."