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."
Minor League promotions departments nationwide work year-round to come up with the best ideas for theme nights, giveaways and events to capitalize on cultural phenomena, honor communities and support causes. Sometimes the most powerful and impactful nights in the game are born from things more organic and necessary, causes that simply can't wait.
Such is the case this Wednesday when the Everett AquaSox host a #4MOM event dedicated to Alzheimer's disease awareness born out of the life of AquaSox outfielder Braden Bishop.
"It was a pretty dark day when we found out," Bishop told MiLB.com's Jared Ravich about his mother Suzy's September 2014 diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer's at just 54 years old. "It's a life-changing event, not only for her but for my family as well. It definitely gives us time to reflect on the good times and the bad, leading up to that point. And the biggest thing is, what were we going to do from that point on? Were we going to let it defeat us and not really act on it? Or were we going to make it a point to fight it and make a difference? So that's where we are today."
The challenge continues in the Minors this week. While at the University of Washington, with the help of Huskies assistant strength and conditioning coach David Rak, Bishop took his first step toward fighting back with a deadlifting competition and silent auction eight months ago at the school.
"It got his brainstorming going and we both came up with it together," Bishop said. "He worked to put it on and I worked more around the scenes, so I give him a lot of credit and he deserves it. He did a great job putting it on. He got the gym, he got a lot of people to come out.
"The fact that he was willing to do it -- he was eager to do it -- it showed my mom how many people were there for her, how many people wanted to be in the fight with her."
The AquaSox came onboard to do their part shortly after the outfielder was taken in the third round in June's Draft. They weren't alone.
"The Alzheimer's Association wanted to join up, not only with the charity but with the AquaSox, to put this game on," Bishop said. "Obviously I was all in for it. It's going to be a good night to raise more awareness, not only for my family but for the disease of Alzheimer's because it's a pretty gruesome disease, but it doesn't [get the attention] of diseases like cancer."
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On Wednesday, the AquaSox and visiting Spokane Indians will encourage fans to join Bishop's Walk to End Alzheimer's #4MOM team on Oct. 3. Both teams will sport "#4MOM" on athletic tape, shoes, hats and other gear, and the Alzheimer's Association will have a booth at the game to provide information about the organization and the disease. Fans can purchase half-priced tickets by wearing purple, the color of Alzheimer's awareness, or saying #4MOM at the ticket booth, and those in attendance can make a contribution or donate a flower to the cause.
Bishop's walk this fall will take place in Everett, and he and his team have already raised more than $1,000.
"She's one of the toughest people I know," Bishop said. "From the first day of my life until today, she's always been there for me. Even when she's struggling, she's still there for me. I really see it as the least that I can do to be there for her."
Best of the Rest
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Second Cap Swap Night with Charleston Lookouts, Aug. 19
Two communities affected by recent tragedy continue to honor each other this week. In the wake of shootings in Charleston and Chattanooga, the RiverDogs and Lookouts engaged in a hat swap with Chattanooga taking the field sporting Charleston caps last Saturday. The RiverDogs return the favor Wednesday night when they'll wear Lookouts lids on their final Military Appreciation Night of the season. Proceeds from the auctions of both sets of hats will go to charity in each city. The RiverDogs will use the money raised in the Lookouts' auction to benefit the family of Charleston Southern baseball player Chris Singleton, whose mother Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was killed at Mother Emanuel AME Church in June. The Lookouts will donate the proceeds of Charleston's auction to victims of the July 16 Chattanooga shootings and their families.
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League)
Four Millionth Fan Celebration, Aug. 19
The Cyclones are set to welcome the four millionth fan in franchise history through their gates Wednesday, and to honor that person, they could be giving away four million pennies. I had to divide four million by 100 to find out how much money that is, but it turns out it's $40,000 (and I could've learned that by simply reading further into their web story). The lucky fan to pass through the turnstiles as No. 4,000,000 will be given seven chances to throw a baseball through a 12-inch gap, and should he or she reach three strikes before four balls, four million pennies await. According to the release, Brooklyn will be the first New York-Penn League team to reach the four-million fan plateau and the fastest in short-season history.
Tulsa Drillers (Texas League)
Sammy Sosa Throwback Jersey Giveaway, Aug. 20
While he was just 20 years old in the Rangers organization, Slammin' Sammy spent 66 games with the Drillers in the summer of 1989 before being promoted to Triple-A and later traded to the White Sox. During his stay, Sosa belted seven homers, drove in 31 runs and was also caught stealing 11 times in 27 tries. They didn't call him "Swipin' Sammy" for a reason. The Drillers will pay homage to the former National League MVP and seven-time All-Star when they give out replicas of Sosa's 1989 jersey to the first 1,000 fans at ONEOK Field.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League)
Don Zimmer Bobblehead Giveaway, Aug. 23
In the way that every actor in Hollywood has six degrees to Kevin Bacon, it seems like every team and every person in the baseball world is connected to Don Zimmer. The difference with the late baseball lifer is that Zimmer seems to be tied that way via about two degrees. Zimmer helped raise money for baseball and softball facilities in Windham, New Hampshire, just 20 miles away, and touched lives throughout the region and the world in his 66 years in the game. The Fisher Cats will honor Zimmer with a bobblehead in his likeness to be given away to the first 1,000 fans in attendance on Saturday night.
Aug. 19: The Lakewood BlueClaws stress financial literacy when they give out BlueClaws Crab Banks to the first 1,500 fans.
Aug. 20: Break out your ugliest matching sweaters and thickest-lensed 1980s glasses when the Fresno Grizzlies host Awkward Family Photo Night complete with an on-site photographer and social media vote to determine the most awkward picture of the evening. … Taking a page out of the Grizzlies' playbook, the Inland Empire 66ers will host a SoCal version of the renowned Taco Truck Throwdown.
Aug. 21: Tomfoolery is afoot in Michigan when the Great Lakes Loons host Murder Mystery Night at Dow Diamond. … New Hampshire hands ballpark production off to 12 members of the next "Greatest Generation" on Kids Run the Show Night.
Aug. 22: Charleston attempts to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer with a Bobble Boob giveaway (which is exactly what you think it is) on Pink Out the Park Night. … In the home of the wings, the Buffalo Bisons continue their tributes to the members of their legendary Wing Race with a bobblehead giveaway of lovable dressing bleu cheese. … History nerds, prepare to be tantalized when the Hagerstown Suns give out a "historic figure mystery bobblehead" to the first 1,000 fans at Municipal Stadium.
Aug. 24: In years past, the Altoona Curve have hosted Pittsburgh Penguins players, but they'll go the broadcasting route when Hall of Famer Mike Lange visits "Curve, PA."
Aug. 25: As someone who has worked in several Minor League front offices, I can tell you that interns most definitely do not have talent. (Just kidding, interns!) The El Paso Chihuahuas will showcase the various skills of their intern force on a cutthroat, in-game edition of Interns Got Talent Night.
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.