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Condiments, vows, tirades on display

Former Spikes manager remembered for steal of first
July 19, 2011
Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays throughout the season, we'll preview 10 of 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."

Syracuse Chiefs (International League)
"Pink Cocktail Party" with guest Billy Baldwin, July 20

Actor Billy Baldwin has headlined a diverse array of projects in his day, from early '90s fare such as Backdraft and Flatliners to recent Lifetime original movie The CraigsList Killer. Baldwin's next headlining performance occurs in Syracuse on Wednesday, as he'll be the featured guest at the Chiefs' "Pink Cocktail Party" breast cancer awareness fundraiser. Proceeds from the party benefit the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund, established by the actor's mother after her own successful battle against the disease. The elder Baldwin, a Syracuse native, will be on hand to throw out the first pitch.

Bradenton Marauders (Florida State League)
Ketchup vs. Mustard Duel, July 21

After years of peaceful side-by-side coexistence, ketchup and mustard have recently entered into a heated battle for ballpark bragging rights. The Marauders will determine just which condiment has more clout by letting fans choose red or yellow T-shirts upon entering the ballpark -- whichever T-shirt they run out of first wins! (The fans who chose "correctly" shall then be awarded prizes). A condiment art station will be set up on the concourse so that fans may create yellow and red-hued masterpieces, while celebrity culinary guest Jamie Gregorich (Hell's Kitchen) whips up creative concoctions making liberal use of both items.

Round Rock Express (Pacific Coast League)
Renew Your Vows and Marriage Enrichment Expo, July 21

The willingness to renew one's vows within a Minor League Baseball stadium would seem to be an excellent indication of marital health, but the Express are aware that it takes even more than that to ensure long-term domestic bliss. The Express are inviting couples onto the field prior to Thursday's game in order to "refresh their commitment to life-long love," an affirming act that, numbers permitting, will also establish a Guinness World Record attempt in the category of "wedding vow renewal." Following this highly public declaration of fidelity, all fans (married or not) are invited to attend an in-game "marriage enrichment expo."

State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
Tribute to Managerial Implosions with Replica First Base Giveaway, July 21

Spikes manager Gary Robinson went on a tirade for the ages last season, throwing an on-field fit that culminated with him stealing first base on the way back to the dugout and then autographing it for a fan. This classic meltdown (viewed more than 675,000 times on YouTube) has inspired Thursday's "Tribute to Managerial Implosions," a theme night celebration highlighted by a "Replica First Base" giveaway to the first 1,000 fans. The evening doubles as the team's annual "Mystery Night," and this year's conundrum that needs to be solved is -- what else? -- "Who Stole First Base?" Robinson is no longer with the club, so your guess is as good as mine.

Inland Empire 66ers (California League)
Lucha Libre Angels Mask Giveaway, July 22

Angels fans interested in cultivating a less-than-Angelic persona would do well to attend Friday's contest in Inland Empire, as the Anaheim affiliated 66ers are giving away Lucha Libre masks to the first 1,500 fans in attendance. This Mexican wrestling-inspired piece of headwear features a face-encompassing Angels logo, with small slits provided for the eyes, nose and mouth. The mass distribution of these items will result in a stadium full of aspiring luchadors, ready to body slam any and all potential impediments to a decisive home team victory.

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
"What If?" Night with Richmond Rhinos Hat Giveaway, July 22

Way back in October of 2009, Richmond's new Eastern League franchise held a name-the-team contest featuring the following choices: Flatheads, Flying Squirrels, Hush Puppies, Rock Hoppers and Rhinos. "Flying Squirrels" emerged victorious, of course, but when it comes to the other choices, that nagging question of "what if" will always remain. The team is embracing this pervasive sense of doubt with Friday's "What If? Night", a celebration of uncertainty in which the team takes the field as the "Richmond Rhinos." The first 2,500 fans age 15 and up receive a Rhinos cap, a keepsake that will serve as a permanent reminder of the alternate reality we very well could have ended up residing in.

Dayton Dragons (Midwest League)
Sellout Record Celebration with poster giveaway, July 23

The Dragons sold out their 815th consecutive ballgame earlier this month, a feat unprecedented in professional sports history. This impressive accomplishment will be celebrated on Saturday, with the team staging a pregame ceremony honoring individuals from many walks of life whose combined efforts made it all possible. But none of it could have happened without the unwavering support of the region's dedicated fans, who will receive a commemorative poster upon leaving the ballpark. Not since the last Eagles reunion tour have a bunch of sellouts been so enthusiastically celebrated.

Lake County Captains (Midwest League)
"A Captains Story" Skipper Figurine, July 23

The Captains play in Eastlake, Ohio, a short drive from the house in which the holiday classic The Christmas Story was filmed. The team celebrated this local connection to cinematic history with last year's "Leg Lamp" figurine, and this year's incarnation is unique as well. On Saturday, the first 1,500 fans in attendance receive a bobblehead featuring Skipper with his nose magnetically affixed to the foul pole. This display of mascot ineptitude is of course a direct reference to one of the film's most famous scenes, in which a character's tongue is affixed to a flag pole as the result of a particularly ill-advised triple dog dare.

Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Bryce Harper "Future of the Beltway" Ticket Package, July 25-27

Bryce Harper is the Justin Bieber of Minor League Baseball -- a disconcertingly young phenom whose mere presence triggers unrelenting waves of fan hysteria. The 18-year-old Washington wunderkind is currently plying his trade as a member of the Harrisburg Senators, but for how long? The Bowie Baysox certainly plan on capitalizing when Harper and his teammates roll into town Monday, as the club is offering a unique "Future of the Beltway" ticket package. For $42, fans get seats to all three games of the series in a prime location by the visitor's dugout, as well as early entrance to the stadium so that Harper can be observed taking batting practice. Those wanting even more intimate access are likely to get slapped with a restraining order.

Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League)
Pat Gillick Hall of Fame Bobblehead, July 26

Baseball executives generally aren't immortalized in bobblehead form, but then again most baseball executives aren't Pat Gillick. In fact, only one is: Pat Gillick. The legendary general manager, who assembled three World Championship teams during his career, is being inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, an affiliate of Gillick's most recent employer, the Philadelphia Phillies, are celebrating this accomplishment by distributing bobbleheads to the first 3,000 adults in attendance. Fans wishing to swap the Gillick bobblehead for that of another individual should do so quickly -- the trade deadline is rapidly approaching.

Bonus Coverage: Because both protocol and common sense demand it, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but, of course, weren't:

Tats and Bats with Fake Tattoo Giveaway (Bowie Baysox, July 14): 1,000 fans received temporary tattoos featuring the BaySox's fishy new alternate logo, while two went ahead and got permanently inked up in exchange for 2012 season tickets.

Duffers Night (Fort Myers Miracle, July 14): A celebration of Southwest Florida's abundance of golf courses, with more than 200 free rounds given away throughout the course of the evening.

Kristen Voda Appearance (Clinton LumberKings, July 15): The Speed Channel personality threw out a first pitch, but ironically enough its speed was never determined.

Patriots Night (Lowell Spinners, July 15): The highlight of this celebration was, as usual, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski booting footballs into the crowd.

Centenarian National Anthem (Toledo Mud Hens, July 15): The 101-year-old Freda Sacket joined a local choir in a rousing rendition of the National Anthem.

B-Mets Playing Cards (Binghamton Mets, July 16): Decks were handed out to fans upon entry, with randomly selected packs containing player-autographed cards.

One Millionth Fan Celebration/Bobby Cox Night (Gwinnett Braves, July 18): The G-Braves lavished the 1,000,000th fan in franchise history with a bounty of gifts as special guest Bobby Cox looked on with approval.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog.