Minor League teams are known for their game-day promotions. Every Tuesday during the season, we'll preview 10 of the best 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 "Promo Preview" in the subject line.
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Mike Tyson Ear Night
Thursday, June 28 vs. St. Lucie Mets
It's hard to believe, but a full decade has passed since one of the most memorable (and controversial) sporting events that ever occurred. On June 28, 1997, Mike Tyson bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear during their heavily publicized "Sound and the Fury" rematch bout, and America was changed forever. On Thursday, the Miracle will celebrate this bizarre, somewhat disgusting event by staging "Mike Tyson Ear Night." The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a (presumably fake) ear, and ear-decorating stations will be set up around the ballpark. Fans will also have the opportunity to get adorned with Tyson-style facial tattoos, and "Elephant Ears" will be available for sale at the concession stands. Also, it's "Thirsty Thursday" at the ballpark. That totally makes sense.
Louisville Bats (International League)
Hairiest Back in Louisville Contest (Thursday, June 28 vs. Richmond Braves)
Bats Heroes Bobblehead Giveaway (Sunday, July 1 vs. Columbus Clippers)
For years, the citizens of Louisville have argued over who in their fine city has the hairiest back. On Thursday, this question will be answered when the Bats hold "The Hairiest Back in Louisville" contest. The irony of this contest is that the winner will receive a free back-hair removal procedure, thereby depriving him (or her) of a significant claim to fame. Three days later, the Bats will stage a more familiar sort of promotion. As fans make their way through the turnstiles, they will be given one of five colored vouchers. Each one is good for a different "Bats Heroes" bobblehead (one of Adam Dunn, Deion Sanders, Brandon Larson, Dave Miley or Austin Kearns). It is unclear which of these individuals has the hairiest back.
Peoria Chiefs (Midwest League)
Mark Grace Replica Jersey T-Shirt Giveaway
Thursday, June 28 vs. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
The summer of 1986 was a beautiful time to be alive. "Top Gun" ruled at the box office, the Statue of Liberty was reopened to the public after massive repairs and a young, sweet-swinging Cubs prospect by the name of Mark Grace made his professional debut with the Peoria Chiefs. Grace hit .342 with 15 home runs and 95 RBIs that season, amply demonstrating the sort of talent that made him one of baseball's most respected hitters of the '90s. On Thursday, the Chiefs will celebrate Grace's season in Peoria by giving away 1,500 Mark Grace replica jersey T-Shirts. It's been rumored that Chiefs manager Ryne Sandberg will arrive at the ballpark earlier than usual, just to make sure that he gets one of these coveted items.
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
Connection Beyond Gallery Event
Thursday, June 28
This event doesn't take place during a Thunder game, so perhaps it shouldn't be included in this column (we'll let the MiLB.com ombudsman weigh in on that). Still, it's just too good to pass up. On Thursday, the Thunder will welcome Marisa Liza Pell, a "gifted spiritual channel and medium," to Waterfront Park, where she will preside over a Connection Beyond Gallery event. Over the course of two emotional hours, Pell will provide attendees with messages "of strength, hope, and love from those who have passed on." It's unfortunate that the Thunder will be on the road when this occurs, as the team's players would surely love to receive encouraging messages from former teammates who have passed on to Triple-A and even the Majors.
Tri-City ValleyCats (New York-Penn League)
Insignificant Events Night 2.8 (Thursday, June 28 vs. Oneonta Tigers)
World Air Guitar Championships (Saturday, June 30 vs. Oneonta Tigers)
Last season's "Insignificant Events Night" in Tri-City featured chapstick giveaways, pointless statistics, parsley and cinnamon sandwiches and an appearance by the Dancing Banana (among many other totally inconsequential occurrences). On Thursday, the club hosts "Insignificant Events Night 2.8," which is being promoted as an evening "filled with a lot of non-entertainment to get no fans off their seats." It'll be insignificance par excellence, in other words. Then, just two days later, the ValleyCats are hosting the "World Air Guitar Championships," and fans are encouraged to bring air guitars of all kinds to the ballpark. It's not certain whether Air Guitar celebrities such as Britain's Zak "Mr. Magnet" Munro and Japan's Ochi "Dainoji" Yosuke will travel to Tri-City to lend an air of legitimacy to the proceedings.
Frederick Keys (Carolina League)
Cow Milking Contest
Friday, June 29 vs. Kinston Indians
Upon the conclusion of Friday's game against the Indians, the Keys will thrill all in attendance by staging a spectacular fireworks show. But even more thrilling and more spectacular is what will be taking place prior to the game -- a cow milking contest. After all, nothing is more entertaining than the skillful manipulation of a large farm animal's underbelly. Hopefully, a city slicker will win the contest over a heavily favored farm boy. That would blow a lot of minds.
Orem Owlz (Pioneer League)
Date Night/Pajama Night
Friday, June 29 vs. Idaho Falls Chukars
Baseball has an often unfair reputation of being a "boring" sport that puts people to sleep. Those who say such things have been given plenty of joke ammunition by the Owlz, who are staging a "Pajama Night" promotion on Friday. Fans are encouraged to wear their pajamas, which must be family-friendly, to the ballpark. These same fans are then invited to stick around after the game for "Date Night," in which cute, possibly pajama-clad couples will lay a blanket down on the field and watch "Shrek." After all, nothing says "romance" like a flatulent ogre.
Stockton Ports (California League)
Root Beer Float Night and Catcher's Mitt Giveaway
Sunday, July 1 vs. Modesto Nuts
The Ports have two great promotions lined up for Sunday evening's contest against the Nuts. First, it's "Root Beer Float Night!" Fans will have the opportunity to purchase a (not literally) "bottomless" cup for root beer floats, which will be served up by Ports players and a host of other local celebrities. These celebrities, being rich beyond all compare, will donate all the tips they receive to charity. Also, the first 1,000 fans through the turnstiles will receive a free catcher's mitt. These are truly rare promotional items, and aspiring Geno Petralis should arrive early in order to make sure they receive one. Left-handers, meanwhile, should file a class-action lawsuit against the Ports for staging a promotion that so obviously discriminates against southpaws. (Maybe they'll do first baseman's gloves next season?)
Auburn Doubledays (New York-Penn League)
Falcon Park Chef Night
Tuesday, July 3 vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers
And now for something completely different. ... on Tuesday, the Doubledays will stage a contest that will truly benefit the gastronomic health of the nation. It's "Falcon Park Chef Night," during which three contestants will have the span from first pitch to the final out to concoct a new culinary creation. The catch? These dishes can only use ingredients obtained from Falcon Park's concession stands (hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, condiments, etc.). The winning entry -- chicken fingers topped with jalapenos, ice cream and cotton candy, perhaps? -- will be available for purchase at Doubleday games for the remainder of the season.
Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League)
Keith Lockhart Bobblehead Giveaway
Tuesday, July 3 vs. Tri-City ValleyCats
Keith Lockhart collected 581 hits over his 10-year Major League career, the majority of which was spent with the Atlanta Braves. ... wait, scratch that. The Spinners' Keith Lockhart Bobblehead Giveaway has nothing to do with the former big-league player. Instead, it honors the current director of the Boston Pops Orchestra, the celebrated ensemble that each year stages a massively popular Fourth of July concert. Lockhart, currently in his 13th season at the helm of Boston Pops, is considered an icon of contemporary orchestral music. Obviously, he deserves to be immortalized in bobblehead form, and the Spinners have done our country a great service by making this a reality. (I wonder if the Red Sox affiliate knows he's a native New Yorker?)
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com.