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."
The notion of an olfactory-themed promotion might seem strange, but, really, it makes "scents."
On Wednesday the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are staging "The Smells of Baseball," a fragrant evening dedicated to the aromas of a baseball stadium. National pastime romanticizers with poetic inclinations have spilled much ink through the years paying tribute to the smells of hot dogs and fresh cut grass, but the Pelicans are going above and beyond the familiar with this one. During the game, a "smelling station" will be set up on the concourse, featuring scents such as tarp, wet bullpen baseball and stale beer.
So what led the Pelicans to create such a unique promotion? Team vice president and general manager Andy Milovich reports that it can be traced back to their star second baseman, 19-year-old Venezuelan wunderkind Rougned Odor (pronounced "O-dure").
"[Pelicans owner] Chuck Greenberg was in town over opening weekend. He's familiar with the Rangers system, and he was saying that not only did Odor have a unique name but that he was also a really special kid," said Milovich. "This got us thinking, about how a scratch-and-sniff baseball card would be a funny thing to do -- and, on top of that, how there are so many unique smells in this game."
That scratch-and-sniff card, featuring the familiar and inoffensive scent of bubblegum, has since become a reality. On Wednesday, fans who correctly identify at least eight of the 10 smelling station scents will win a pack of Pelicans cards featuring the scratch and sniff Odor. Those who go a perfect 10-for-10, meanwhile, will be entered into drawing to win Odor's "filthy, sweaty uniform at the conclusion of a three-hour baseball game."
"A lot of these smells fans might not be accustomed to, but if you work in baseball, then you're definitely familiar with the smell of tarp shoes sitting under your desk," said Milovich. "We hope that no one gets sick from this, but medical personnel will be on hand if they do!"
Supplementary entertainment during the evening includes videoboard celebrations of great noses, nasally intonations, nose-oriented songs such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and who "nose" what else. But at the end of the day, it all comes back to Odor, the runner-up in MiLB.com's 2012 Moniker Madness contest.
"He gets a lot of comments about his name; he's used to it," said Milovich of Odor. "We see this as a fun way to showcase him and get his name out there. He's a special ballplayer, and we think that one day he's going to be best known for his on-field talent. But until then…"
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League) Odd Pet Day, Thursday, Aug. 1
There's been no shortage of on-field animal delays this season, from cats to skunks, from dogs to, yes, even a rally pig (I'm looking at you, Richmond Flying Squirrels). Let's just hope that the Miracle don't add to this list Thursday, as the team is staging "Odd Pet Night." The guest list is currently unavailable, but expect a bevy of strange creatures to be milling about the concourse. Miracle general manager Andrew Seymour writes that representatives from the Naples Zoo and Petland will be on hand, and that all of the animals on display will be "under the supervision of professionals." Let's hope that these professionals know what they're doing, because having a game delayed due to a rampaging emu would be deeply embarrassing.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League) Taco Truck Throwdown 3, Thursday, Aug. 1
It's that time of year again when premier vehicular purveyors of iconic Mexican foodstuffs converge on Chukchansi Park for the extravaganza that is "Taco Truck Throwdown." Last season's throwdown featured 13 food trucks and attracted more than 11,000 fans, with El Premio Mayor winning both the "Judge's Choice" and "People's Choice" categories. El Premio Mayor will be looking for a repeat victory Thursday (as otherwise they'd have to change their name to El Segundo Mayor, or worse), and fans in search of maximum taco enjoyment are advised to buy their tickets in advance. Those who shell out $28 receive a ticket to the game, "Taco Throwdown" t-shirt and a whopping eight taco vouchers. Come hungry.
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League) Salute to Scandal Night, Thursday, Aug. 1
In the wake of New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's seemingly never-ending scandals, the Flying Squirrels aim to poke fun with "Salute to Scandal Night." Richmond will sell $1 hot dogs and fans can then enter a contest by Tweeting photos during the game showing how they are enjoying their weiners. Weiner, a former representative from New York's 9th congressional district, has acknowledged sending lewd photos and messages to women online. Flying Squirrels vice president Todd Parnell said the promotion is "meant to be a fun, tongue-in-cheek night." Other contests include a "Brett Favre football throw" and "Tiger Woods closest to the pin challenge."
Toledo Mud Hens (International League) Toledo Baseball History Weekend with Jim Thorpe Bobblehead Giveaway and 1921 Throwback Jerseys, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2-3
Jim Thorpe, a multi-sport superstar widely acknowledged as the 20th century's greatest athlete, played his last Major League Baseball game in 1919 as a member of the Boston Braves. But that didn't end his professional career, as in 1921 he suited up for the American Association's Toledo Mud Hens and hit a stellar .358 over 133 games. The Mud Hens are honoring Thorpe's stint with the club this weekend, distributing bobbleheads bearing his likeness Friday and wearing 1921 throwback jerseys Saturday. These vintage duds will be auctioned off during the game via a silent auction, a fitting method given that 1921 was prior to the age of the talkie.
Potomac Nationals (Carolina League) Roger Bernadina Shark-A-Rine, Saturday, Aug. 3
Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina has been nicknamed "the Shark" in honor of his bloodthirsty and relentless pursuit of fly balls. This nickname inspired the P-Nats, for whom Bernadina played in 2006, to create what has to be one of the strangest giveaway items of the season. On Saturday, the first 1,000 fans in attendance receive a "Shark-A-Rina" figurine that depicts the outfielder as half shark, half man, leaping out of the water in order to snag a fly ball. This item would put Sharknado to shame, except that it's a complete lack of shame that caused Sharknado to be produced in the first place.
Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League) Dominican Dine and Dance, Monday, Aug. 5
The Crosscutters have an off-day Monday, but the team is going to be plenty busy nonetheless. It's "Dominican Dine and Dance" night at the Genetti Hotel in downtown Williamsport, during which many of the team's Dominican players will serve the cuisine of their home country. Proceeds from the $20-per-plate dinner, as well as those from a silent memorabilia auction, will benefit the Williamsport-based A.C.E.S. North America charity (Advancing Communities by Educating and Serving). Fittingly enough, this organization is working toward creating sustainable development projects in the Dominican Republic.
Into the ellipse…
Because the compulsion to keep going supersedes all else, here are other notable promotions taking place in the world of Minor League Baseball this week.
- July 31: The Bowie Baysox host a "German Bierstube Dinner," and menu items include Laugen Brezel, Frsicher Haussalat, and, of course, Wiener Schnitzel. … Have bobbleheads and gnomes run their course? The Reading Fightin Phils are giving away Ryan Howard "action figures."
- Aug. 1: In Idaho Falls, the Chukars give away 1939-era "Russets" caps. You can't deny they've got a-peel. … The Inland Empire 66ers are staging a "Bacon Bonanza." Plan accordingly.
- Aug. 2: The Memphis Redbirds honor their history by giving away "Left Field Loonies" T-shirts, a nod to the passionate fans at old Tim McCarver Ballpark. … Jerry Springer, cultural treasure, will once again spend an evening with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
- Aug. 3: The Buffalo Bisons distribute "Celery" bobbleheads, in honor of their wing-accompanying vegetable mascot (and Mascot Mania contestant). … In Hudson Valley, the Renegades celebrate classic computer games and organ donation with, yes, "Organ Trail Night." ... R.A. Dickey notched 13 wins as a member of the 2007 Nashville Sounds, and now the team honors him in bobblehead form.
- Aug. 4: For the second season in a row, the Missoula Osprey are offering fans the opportunity to "Float to the Ballpark" via a leisurely cruise on the Clark River.
- Aug. 5: The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are distributing bobbleheads, but of whom? Find out on "Mystery Bobblehead Night."
- Aug. 6: Maybe bobbleheads really have run their course. The Harrisburg Senators are giving away "Danny Espinosa Fatheads."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.