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 him a Tweet -- hashtag "#promopreview."
If all goes according to plan in Orem on Wednesday, then the "Eyez" will have it.
The Owlz, Orem's hometown Pioneer League entity, are like recovering insomniacs in that they are always amenable to gratuitous Z's. All fans who pass through the gatez on Wednesday will receive a pair of Eyez sunglasses, which feature the team's owl-eye logo emblazoned on the eyes of the lenses themselves. Then, during the seventh inning, fans will be instructed to don the glasses in unison as the team attempts to break a Guinness World Record in the coveted category of "most people wearing logo sunglasses at night."
Jillian Dingee, the club's azzistant general manager, is confident that the team will emerge victorious in this record-breaking attempt. She said that the current mark is 1,600, and that the Owlz are expecting to draw some 5,000-plus fans to Wednesday's ballgame. This is because it is "Pioneer Day," a Utah-specific holiday that, per Wikipedia, "commemorates … the entry of the first Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley."
"It should be interesting, because we've produced enough so that everybody [in the ballpark] should get a pair," said Dingee. "The sunglasses are going to be part of a movie being filmed here, so part of the documentation will be a panoramic shot of everyone putting the glasses on at the same time."
Yes, this real-life promotion will eventually make its way into the realm of cinema. Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky and his son, Jake, are currently working on a baseball-themed comedy film called 108 Stitches, and a scene involving the mass donning of logoed sunglasses has actually been incorporated into the film. This makes the whole endeavor one of the most meta promotions of the season and, clearly, the Owlz have never "meta" promotion they didn't like!
But that's not all!
On Thursday, one day after the Eyez glasses giveaway, the team is partnering on a giveaway with Ed Randall's "Bat for the Cure" organization. This long-running charitable enterprise raises awareness of prostate cancer, and the Owlz are giving away a pair of "squeezable balls." Fans are encouraged to give these balls a squeeze and then, if applicable, check their own.
"We wanted to do something that Ed would get a kick out of and that would stand out," said Dingee. "[The front office] had a conversation about it for an hour, and this is what we came up with."
And finally, Friday's promotion involves Dingee herself. She is among the Pioneer League's most eligible bachelorettes, and in an effort to perhaps meet the man of her dreams, the team is staging "Win a Date with Jillian" night. Prospective suitors will compete throughout the evening to win her heart, and one of these gentleman will then join Dingee for a night on the town.
"I'm curious to see who participates; it would be nice to have Brad Pitt conveniently stop by," said Dingee. "Some people are saying I'll find my true soulmate, but maybe it'll just be one date and then never call the person again. We'll see what happens."
And with that, let's see what's happening elsewhere in the Minors.
Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League) Jack Kerouac Lowell Football Bobblehead, July 25
The city of Lowell, Mass., has produced more than its share of famous residents through the years, from board game titan Milton Bradley to late-night sidekick Ed McMahon, from boxer Mickey Ward to painter James Whistler. But perhaps the most famous is peripatetic poet Jack Kerouac, who was born in Lowell and went on to spend his formative years in this Massachusetts city. With cooperation from his estate, the Spinners distributed wildly popular Kerouac bobblehead dolls in 2003 and followed that up last season with a "hitchhiking" bobblehead. On Thursday, yet another iteration appears, this one featuring Kerouac in his Lowell High School football uniform. When it comes to bobbleheads, you just can't beat a beat!
Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League) Zombie Survival Night, July 25
Nothing says family-friendly entertainment like an undead invasion! Thursday marks the Mahoning Valley Scrappers' second annual "Zombie Survival Night," and if it's anything like the first one then fans are in for a terror-inducing night at the ballpark. Highlights included a pregame on-field zombie crawl (in which the zombies were led by a hearse), "zombie survival kit" prize packs and front-office staffers who prepared for the evening via the following method:
"They applied a latex mask and then makeup, fake blood, painted our teeth, and had us gargle with fake blood to alter our appearance," wrote promotions intern Annie Stoltenberg. "We tore and ripped our own clothes."
West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest League) Don Wert Appearance with Living Baseball Card, July 26
In this, the most recent installment of the Whitecaps' "Tiger Friday" series of promotions, the Whitecaps welcome Don Wert to the ballpark. Wert served as the Tigers' third baseman from 1963-1970, and among his career highlights is the fact that he once started a triple play during a game in which Richard Nixon was in attendance. Perhaps this will be part of the unique "Living Baseball Card" that fans receive upon entering the stadium, which includes a DVD on Wert's life and times. How early do you think that the Ortega brothers will show up for this one?
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League) Christmas in July, July 27
July is creeping to an end, and therefore the Minor Leagues' latest slew of "Christmas in July" promotions are coming to an end as well. For an exemplary example of such, see Charleston's effort this Saturday. The players are wearing "Yuletide-themed" jerseys, a snow machine will produce plenty of the white stuff and a "summer Santa" is scheduled to enter the park as part of a pregame motorcycle parade. But, of course, that is not all! Christmas ornaments and elf figurines are on sale at the team store, choir singers will sing carols outside of the stadium, Salvation Army bell-ringers shall collect donations and touring act "Those Funny Little People" will perform throughout the game while dressed as elves. And that is all.
Binghamton Mets (Eastern League) Mr. Met Appearance, July 28
Mr. Met is rarely seen outside of his home base of Queens, but on Sunday he'll travel all the way to Binghamton in order to participate in a pregame meet-and-greet that also features local stalwarts Buddy the Bee, Ballwinkle and the Hot Dog Horse. This distinguished quartet is also featured in the evening's mascot card trading set giveaway, and savvy fans will then make sure to get these cards autographed by the mascots in question. Where else can one easily procure the John Hancock of a baseball-headed mutant human, bumblebee, moose and horse-riding hot dog purveyor?
Into the Ellipse…
But wait, there's more! There's always more…
- July 24: The Buffalo Bisons honor their erstwhile knuckleballing ace with an R.A. Dickey bobblehead. … The Rochester Red Wings got more action than my man John Woo; on Wednesday, they welcome special guest Rod Carew.
- July 25: The Springfield Cardinals celebrate their 2012 league championship season the only way they know how: by distributing snow globes containing miniature versions of the Texas League trophy.
- July 26: Cash will be dropped from helicopter to playing field during the Loons' "It's Raining Money" night. … In Eugene, the Emeralds give away figurines of their new Big Foot logo. The foot, it bobbles.
- July 27: The Lakewood BlueClaws stage their annual tribute to "The Boss." Yep, it's "BruceClaws Night." ... In Toledo, the Mud Hens honor a treasured native son with their third annual Jamie Farr Bobblehead. … Licorice fiends shall be in abundance at the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers' "Super Ropes Candy Bonanza."
- July 28: Give it away now! The Albuquerque Isotopes distribute Red Chile Pepper bobbleheads to their red chile pepper-loving fanbase.
- July 29: It's Monday. Not all that much is happening.
- July 30: The Reading Fightin Phils throw it way back with their throwback giveaway item: a Reading Indians hat.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.