Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays for the entire 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."
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Trick or Tweet Night, Aug. 31
This past Wednesday, the Bowie Baysox staged a "Mash-up Night" promotion in which they combined popular songs, promotions and outfits with reckless abandon. This mentality is certainly carrying over into Wednesday's "Trick or Tweet" promo, as the team is simultaneously celebrating Halloween and social media. Fans will have direct input into the frightful festivities, choosing what costume mascot Louie will wear as well as what prizes shall be awarded to well-dressed attendees. As an added bonus, fans who purchase special "Trick or Treat" tickets and wear a costume to the game receive free admission to the team's upcoming "Psycho Safari" haunted house. Because what fun is a safari if there are no psychos to share it with?
Iowa Cubs (Pacific Coast League)
Juror Appreciation Night, Aug. 31
There's nothing glamorous about jury duty, so it makes sense that there's nothing glamorous about the I-Cubs "Juror Appreciation Night" either. This no-frills promotion is the brainchild of a local judge, who wanted to honor these randomly-selected unsung heroes. Forty recent Iowa jurors have been randomly selected to attend the game free of charge, and this phalanx of deliberative individuals will line up along the baselines as part of a pregame ceremony meant to honor and promote a civic duty crucial to the smooth functioning of any democracy.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League)
Man Cave Giveaway, Aug. 31
Humanity has come a long way since cavemen walked the Earth, but nonetheless there are many males in our society seeking to regress to such a primitive state of existence. The IronPigs are catering to this primordial impulse with Wednesday's "Man Cave Giveaway," as one fan will win a luxuriously appointed rec room featuring a pool table, 46-inch TV, leather chair, beverage center, wireless music system, catered party and much more (the prize is valued at $14,000). Six fans will be chosen prior to the game (based on how well they display "IronPigs Pride"), and throughout the evening they'll compete in a series of on-field challenges. The last contestant standing wins the "Man Cave" and never will have to leave the house again.
Delmarva Shorebirds (Carolina League)
NFL Night/Crab Feast, Sept. 2
Delmarva incorporates three states into its team name, and this geographical mishmash is reflected in Friday's NFL hat giveaway. Fans will receive one of three Shorebirds caps, each of which reflect allegiance to a particular football entity: purple and black for the Baltimore Ravens, burgundy and yellow for the Washington Redskins and green and gray for the Philadelphia Eagles. Though the team's fan base may be divided as to gridiron preference, there is a near unanimity of opinion regarding the awesomeness of crab feasts. A $28 ticket includes a hearty in-game meal highlighted by mounds of succulent steamed crabs, their carcasses waiting to be cracked open and the innards devoured.
Kinston Indians (Carolina League)
Last Kinston Indians Game Ever/Fan Appreciation Night, Sept. 2
This week's most poignant season finale will occur Friday at Grainger Stadium, as the Carolina League's Kinston Indians are playing their last-ever regular-season home game (the team is moving to Zebulon, N.C. in 2012). Thus ends Grainger Stadium's long Carolina League association; the K-Tribe played their first season in 1987, and professional baseball at the facility dates back to 1949. Friday's game features live music, fireworks and a bevy of fan giveaways, but of course the main reason to attend is simply to say goodbye. Or, more optimistically, "until we meet again." The K-Tribe's ownership has stated its desire to bring a new franchise to the city -- stay tuned.
Brevard County Manatees (Florida State League)
Ballpark Wedding/Rock Out With Your Cookout, Sept. 3
Hopeless romantics with voyeuristic tendencies will want to show up early to Space Coast Stadium on Saturday as the ballgame will be preceded by an on-field wedding. Douglas Torpy and Renee Toupin, the winners of this year's "From Home Plate to Happily Ever After" contest, will be united in holy matrimony at 6:15 p.m. What better way for the Torpy-Toupins to start their wedded life than to indulge in the team's weekly "Rock Out With Your Cookout" promotion? It's a winner-take-all battle among Brevard County's best sandwich, seafood, BBQ and pizza, determined by a fan vote. Those seeking to get a taste of the action can do so for a mere $5.
Connecticut Tigers (New York-Penn League)
Norwich Navigators Night, Sept. 3
From 1995 through 2005, Norwich hosted "the Navigators," an Eastern League entity affiliated with the nearby New York Yankees. The Connecticut Tigers, Norwich's current professional baseball entity, will be honoring this not-so bygone era Saturday. The team will take the field in pinstriped Navigator jerseys to be autographed and auctioned off after the game. Those not willing to shell out the dough for such a prestigious piece of memorabilia should at least arrive early enough to snag a commemorative Navigators mini-bat, to be given away to the first 500 fans to laconically stroll through stadium entranceways.
Inland Empire 66ers (California League)
Angels Gnome Bobblehead, Sept. 4
Over the last two seasons, gnome figurines and bobbleheads have gone from an obscure promotional curiosity to full-fledged phenomenon. The latest team to distribute undulating facsimiles of a mythical woodland creature are the 66ers, who are giving away 1,500 such items prior to Sunday's game. And what's more, this particular gnome even has a name: Hale O'Fann. It's a fitting moniker, seeing as O'Fann is wearing the uniform of parent club the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Clearly, he's a supporter of the gnome-town team.
Chattanooga Lookouts (Southern League)
Lookout Survivor, Sept. 5
Chattanooga concludes its season Monday with "Lookouts Survivor," a full-scale battle royale for ultimate fan supremacy. Any fan wishing to compete may fill out an application, and 10 will be randomly selected prior to the ballgame. These hardy souls will then participate in a series of inning-by-inning ballpark challenges, which the team says could include "athletic challenges, food and/or beverage-consuming contests and knowing the capital of Djibouti." One fan will be eliminated after each round, with the last contestant receiving an as-yet-unspecified grand prize. Perhaps it will be a trip to Djibouti, the capital of Djibouti.
Harrisburg Senators (Eastern League)
Baseball Project Performance, Sept.5
The Baseball Project -- composed of members of R.E.M., Minus 3 and the Dream Syndicate -- are what their name implies: a rock band that writes exclusively about baseball. They've toured the country several times over and released two albums, both of which are chock-full of knowledgeable, deeply passionate and effortlessly rocking national pastime tunes ("Harvey Haddix" and "Buckner's Bolero" are my personal favorites). The whole endeavor is a labor of love and executed to perfection; if you are a fan of baseball and rock and roll, then quite simply, you absolutely need to hear them. They play pre- and postgame sets in Harrisburgl on Monday, a wonderful way to say goodbye to the Minor League regular season. Here's hoping for a 2012 ballpark tour!
Bonus Coverage: Because it's so hard to say goodbye, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but, of course, weren't:
Barry Melrose Appearance (Great Lakes Loons, Aug. 25): Hockey's most famous mulletted man graced the Dow Diamond with his presence, posing for pictures and signing autographs.
Meadowlark Lemon Appearance (Myrtle Beach Loons, Aug. 25): One of the greatest Harlem Globetrotters of all time descended on Myrtle Beach, causing all Washington Generals fans to flee in terror.
Sauce Boss Performance (Reading Phillies, Aug. 25): The Sauce Boss cooks gumbo and serves it to his fans while performing an energetic rock and roll concert. Talk about multi-tasking.
Killer B's Bobblehead (Trenton Thunder, Aug. 26): Could Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances be the 21st-century incarnation of Bagwell and Biggio? Well, sure, if your only criteria is what letter their last names start with.
Billy Crystal Appearance (Fresno Grizzlies, Aug. 27): Scenes from the upcoming film Us & Them, a comedy starring Billy Crystal as a Minor League announcer, were shot at Chukchansi Park during Saturday's ballgame.
Clint Robinson Triple Crown Bobblehead (Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Aug. 27): Last season's tormentor of Texas League pitchers was recognized in bobble form for his impressive triumvirate of circuit-pacing totals.
Scrapple Appreciation Night (Wilmington Blue Rocks, Aug. 30): An "offal" lot of fun for all involved.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow him @BensBiz on Twitter.