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Keys welcome local celeb chef Voltaggio

Nats honor Souza; at least eight teams host 'Star Wars' promotions
June 9, 2015

On Monday, June 15, celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio returns to the Frederick Keys' home of Nymeo Field. It'll be a little bit hot dog, a little bit haute cuisine.

Voltaggio, a Frederick native, will commandeer a concession stand in order to create an array of one-night only culinary offerings. These items, ranging in price from $6 to $14, include (but are not limited to) a "chili dog with aerated cheese and spring onion," "soft-shell crab tacos with celriac and green apple slaw" and, for dessert, "caramel popcorn sundaes."

Voltaggio, who owns six restaurants and has appeared on Top Chef, will also be signing copies of his new book, Home. The first 1,000 fans in attendance, meanwhile, receive a "Volt" foam finger.

Pictures of Monday's concession stand offerings are not available, for the simple and sensible reason that the event has not taken place yet. We can get a sense of Volt Night future by looking at Volt Night past, however, since Monday marks the second time that the Keys have staged this promo. The first such iteration occurred in 2010, and the menu was as follows:

Gazpacho "Dippin Dots" rock shrimp ceviche; kettle chips; lamb hot dog with chow chow and sour cream onion chips; pulled pork with pickled watermelon and dill potato salad; chocolate covered banana; soft-shell crab sandwich with pickled fennel-cucumber slaw; and peach cobbler.

Voltaggio and his brother, Mike, returned to the ballpark one year later for an offseason cookbook-signing and kickball game. Among other things, this event included the unlikely sight of Voltaggio himself hustling through the ballpark with fresh batches of Old Bay popcorn.

"We are extremely excited to have Bryan back at a Keys game to offer his amazing and renowned cuisine," said Keys general manager Dave Ziedelis. "He is certainly a tremendous Frederick icon and a great Keys fan as well."

The Best of the Rest

Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Geekend 2, June 11-14

The Lake Elsinore Storm staged Minor League Baseball's first "Geekend" last season, an idea that has since been co-opted by other clubs. Beginning Thursday, they're out to prove that the original is still the best. It all kicks off Thursday with a "Cosplay Night" promo, dedicated to costumed sci-fi and fantasy role-play (Leanna Vamp, a modern-day Elvira, will be among those in attendance). This is followed by Superhero Night (Friday) and Star Wars Night (Saturday), concluding with Sunday's "Ren-EYE-ssance Day" (the "Eye" of the title references the Storm's iconic logo). In what may be a Minor League Baseball first, "Ren-EYE-ssance Day" features postgame on-field battles (with fan participation) hosted by the Barony of Dreiburgen and Belegarth Medieval Combat Society. Joust the facts, ma'am.

Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Bowling Green Hot Rods (Midwest League)
Inland Empire 66ers (California League)
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League)
Pawtucket Red Sox (International League)
Star Wars Night, June 13

A new Jurassic Park movie opens this weekend, but not even a cinematic event of this magnitude can deter Minor League teams from doing what they do best: Star Wars promos. In addition to the aforementioned Lake Elsinore Storm, Star Wars celebrations will be staged on Saturday in Bowie, Bowling Green, Inland Empire, Northwest Arkansas and Pawtucket. Costumed characters are scheduled to appear in all of these locales, with Bowling Green and Northwest Arkansas both going the theme jersey route via nearly identical R2-D2 uniform tops. Maybe one day, in a galaxy far, far away, Minor League teams will tire of Star Wars promos. For now, however, they remain an unstoppable force. 

Potomac Nationals (Carolina League)
Steven Souza "The Catch" figurine, June 13
Star Wars Night with Lando Calrissian jerseys, June 14

The Potomac Nationals have established a reputation for giving away creative bobbleheads and figurines, as anyone fortunate enough to own a Jayson Werth "Wolf-A-Rine" can attest. This year's slate of one-of-a-kind collectibles kicks off in earnest Saturday with the distribution of "Steven Souza Jr. 'The Catch'" figurines. The catch in question occurred on Sept. 28 of last season, when Souza preserved Jordan Zimmerman's no-hitter with a diving catch for the last out of the game. Also, it should be noted that, the next day, the P-Nats become yet another team to go the Star Wars route. They've got an original approach, however, since the team takes the field in sky-blue jerseys featuring one-time Cloud City administrator Lando Calrissian.   

Buffalo Bisons (International League)
Luke Easter Bobblehead Giveaway, June 14

Those who subscribe to the notion that "Life Begins at 40" would do well to read up on the career of Negro League legend-turned-Cleveland Indians-slugger Luke Easter. In 1956, at the age of 40, Easter played the first of what would be three highly productive seasons as a member of the International League's Buffalo Bisons. He bashed 115 home runs while with the team, and then went on to play another six seasons with the Rochester Red Wings before finally hanging 'em up at age 48. On Sunday, the Bisons honor the 100th anniversary of Easter's birth year via a bobblehead giveaway featuring the bespectacled slugger in mid-swing. Finally, a Minor League team honoring a Luke not named Skywalker.

Quick Hits

June 10: The Richmond Flying Squirrels become the latest team to salute middle children, a subset of youth that is getting harder and harder to ignore.

June 11: It very well may be a hoax, but the Carolina Mudcats are staging an homage to Bigfoot.

June 12: Jurassic World, which debuts on Friday, gets some love in the Minors, as both the Cedar Rapids Kernels and El Paso Chihuahuas pay tribute with ballpark promos. … The Frisco RoughRiders wear Full House jerseys on a day when Dave Coulier (aka Uncle Joey Gladstone) is in the ballpark. For more info, head over to Cut4. ... The XPogo stunt team, unparalleled bouncing-stick masters, perform for Lexington Legends fans.

June 13: Minnesota Twins great Tony Oliva visits the Fort Myers Miracle. He's sure to Oliva the fans wanting more. … The Fort Wayne TinCaps aren't ready for prime time with their "Live From Fort Wayne" Saturday Night Live tribute. … The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders give away Derek Jeter bobbleheads. You might've heard of the guy.

June 14: Both the Bowie Baysox and Quad Cities River Bandits are staging postgame helicopter candy drops, in which individually wrapped sweet treats rain down from the sky. … It's not quite Armageddon, but it's pretty close: The Salem Red Sox are letting "Kids Take Over the Ballpark."

June 15: Watch out for the June gloom.

June 16: The South Bend Cubs go back in time 30 years to 1985, so that they may celebrate the release of Back to the Future. 

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.