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."
Virtually every Minor League promo is based on something. The Inland Empire 66ers aren't going that route this week.
On Monday, July 6, the 66ers will roll out "Nothing Night" at San Manuel Stadium, a chance for fans to recover from Fourth of July weekend by getting into the ballpark for free and watch their team clash with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on an evening that will include, well, nothing.
"There are no frills to this game," 66ers Director of Promtions Adam Franey said. "This night is baseball at its purist form. No walk-up music. No PA announcements. No on-field games. The only thing our video board is used for is the line score. Unfortunately we don't have a manually operated scoreboard to really make fans feel like they are attending a game in the early 1900s. However, we still make sure the lights are turned on at night and have some concession stands open."
Nothing Night is nothing new, exactly. In fact, it's a California League tradition dating back at least a decade when the Lake Elsinore Storm broke it out at The Diamond.
"We've seen the success that it had in other ballparks," Franey said. "The uniqueness of the promotion itself generates buzz just from people seeing it on the schedule and then calling or emailing us to ask just what the night entails."
While this might be the most basic night of the season from an execution perspective for the club, it certainly doesn't create a dull in-house atmosphere.
"From a planning standpoint, it is very easy for us to pull off," Franey said. "However, the environment inside the ballpark is anything but quiet. In fact, the fans take it upon themselves to generate chants, and the staff has found out these are close to the rowdiest fans all year."
RiverDogs honoring shooting victims
As befits a team whose ownership group includes Bill Murray and Mike (son of Bill) Veeck, the Charleston RiverDogs have a long-standing reputation for promotional zaniness.
But this week, and for the remainder of the season, irreverent theme jerseys and bizarre bobbleheads take a back seat to something far more profound. Beginning July 4, when the RiverDogs play their first home game of the season's second half, their jerseys will feature a black armband in tribute to the nine victims of the Emmanuel AME Church shooting.
The armbands, located on the left sleeve, will be featured on both the home and road jerseys of the Class A New York Yankees affiliate. At the end of the season, the home jerseys will be auctioned off and the proceeds donated to a local charity directly involved with assisting those affected by the tragedy. The gray road tops will also be auctioned off, though the specifics of this initiative have yet to be determined.
"It's a traditional baseball gesture; simple, but poignant," said RiverDogs general manager Dave Echols. "The RiverDogs are extremely proud to represent the Lowcountry. The players and field staff … carry with them the remembrance of the victims and their families at the center of this horrible event."
"It means a lot to the players and coaches of this organization," said RiverDogs hitting coach Greg Colbrunn. "We bring the unity of the city with us wherever we go and hopefully we can continue to do our part in the community's healing process."
"I think it's an appropriate and touching sign of remembrance for the victims and their families," added infielder Ryan Lindemuth. "As players and as a team, we feel as though it's really special to be a part of the community and a part of the response that they've given so far."
July 4 marks the first of 61 times in which the RiverDogs will wear the memorial jerseys; 35 of those games will be played at the team's home of Joseph P. Reilly Jr. Park.
Best of the Rest
Portland Sea Dogs (Eastern League)
Hump Day featuring Caesar the Camel, July 1
Either the funniest or most annoying person in your office has walked around quoting that GEICO commercial with the camel every Wednesday for the last few years. The Sea Dogs will give fans a chance to get over their midweek blues with an actual camel in attendance. Caesar the camel will entertain the masses at Hadlock Field on a night presented by Pony X-Press, which bills itself as "Maine's Finest Petting Zoo."
Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League)
Detention with Mr. Belding VIP Party, July 2
Last week, we profiled Brooklyn's Salute to Saved By The Bell that featured an appearance by actor Dennis Haskins who played Mr. Belding on the show. Haskins continues his Minor League tour with a stop in Williamsport this week. Similar to the Cyclones, the Crosscutters will host a special ticket package called "Detention with Mr. Belding" that includes a postgame VIP party with everybody's favorite "Big Bopper."
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League)
Salute to Seinfeld Night, July 5
Speaking of the Cyclones, Brooklyn is back to capitalize on one of its best promotions with the second edition of Salute to Seinfeld Night, 26 years to the day that The Seinfeld Chronicles aired for the first time. After winning a Golden Bobblehead Award last year, this season's salute to the "show about nothing" includes the Minors' first Seinfeld-themed jersey with the Cyclones' "Cosmo's Technicolor" tops. Last year, Brooklyn gave away bobbleheads of Mets legend and "Magic Loogie"-hocker Keith Hernandez. This year, they're honoring one of the show's non-speaking roles with a "bobblebeak" version of Little Jerry, the rooster. Plus actor Steve Hytner, who played comedian Kenny Bania on the show, will be at the one-night-only rechristened Vandelay Industries park to continually debate whether or not soup is a meal.
Frisco RoughRiders (Texas League)
Swinging Teddy Bobblehead Giveaway, July 5
The RoughRiders rebranded this offseason with a Teddy-centric identity, and their July 5 giveaway item is one of the gems on the Minor League calendar in 2015. The first 2,000 fans through the gates at Dr Pepper Ballpark will receive a bobbling figurine of Spanish-American War hero, Amazon River explorer and our 26th President, Teddy Roosevelt. The 'Riders rebrand was recently featured in a profile by the always fascinating SportsLogos.net (which includes a rare glimpse at the logo of Frisco's forerunners, the Shreveport Swamp Dragons).
As a late-night infomercial would say, that's not all...
July 1: The Trenton Thunder have been melting hearts with their signature Bat Dogs for nearly 15 years and will honor their golden retriever duo of Derby and Rookie at Arm & Hammer Park.
July 2: Many teams have chosen to commemorate Back to the Future this year, its 30th anniversary, but the Great Lakes Loons are going the extra gigawatt with an appearance by a DeLorean.
July 4: Fireworks, fireworks, fireworks. If your local team is in town, they have 'em. … Madison Bumgarner made sure last year that the entire baseball knew his name, and the Connecticut Tigers will honor the former Connecticut Defenders pitcher and 2014 World Series MVP with a bobblehead giveaway to the first 1,000 fans through the gates for their Independence Day date with Vermont.
July 5: The Altoona Curve will visit the softer side of the Minor League media tribute spectrum when they wear jerseys in honor of Mr. Rogers and welcome Daniel Tiger to Peoples Natural Gas Field.
July 6: History buffs are set for a night to remember at The Diamond when the Richmond Flying Squirrels pay homage to the American Revolution with a live Patrick Henry and 2nd Virginia Convention re-creation. … Chicken buffs are set for a night to remember in Ohio when the Bowling Green Hot Rods host their Ode To Fried Chicken.
July 7: You might have thought Weird Al was a thing of the past until he dropped fire with last year's mega-blockbuster hit "Word Crimes", and now the Binghamton Mets will honor the satirical master with "Tribute to Weird Al Night."
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.