Minor League teams are known for their game-day promotions. On Tuesdays for the remainder of 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 the subject line: "Promo Preview."
There are many reasons to be excited about the 2009 baseball season, but one reason towers above them all: The Promotion Preview.
In this -- the greatest weekly column in all of sports (if not all media), if I do say so myself -- 10 promotions from across the Minor League landscape are highlighted for your enjoyment. This marks the fourth season in which Promotion Preview has existed, and it's a sure bet this will be the best yet.
That's because this season, the column has a sidekick in the form of the "Promotion Review." Each Friday, this affable addition to the MiLB.com lineup will look back on one of the promotions featured in the Preview. It should be an interesting glimpse into how teams follow through on their ideas, as well as a weekly reminder of the gaping disconnect that often exists between theory and practice.
And of course, Ben's Biz Blog will be humming along all season, covering promotions with a regularity that borders on pathological.
This is the part of my spiel in which I implore you to please contact me with any and all information related to the world of Minor League promotions. After all, I am merely the conduit through whom this information flows. The real innovators are those who are actually out there doing this stuff. Don't let it occur in a vacuum.
OK, I have already exceeded my weekly quota for self-aggrandizement, so there's nothing left to do but move on to the reason you're here in the first place -- The week's Top 10 Promotions. Enjoy.
Cedar Rapids Kernels (Midwest League)
Premier Night, April 9
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Hollywood, Calif., couldn't be any more dissimilar, at least on a normal night. Thursday will be anything but normal, however, as the Kernels stage a star-studded Opening Night extravaganza that rivals the best out of Tinseltown. Front-office staff and ushers will be dressed in formal attire, limousines will be on hand to chauffeur fans from the parking lot to the main gate and local media will be conducting interviews on a red carpet outside the stadium. Additionally, the concourse will be decorated with movie memorabilia, and all music and video clips will be movie-themed. Unlike the real Hollywood, however, the evening will be free of plastic surgery and paparazzi.
Jacksonville Suns (Southern League)
Bragan Family Commemorative Coin Giveaway, April 9
This marks the 25th season in which the Suns have been under the ownership of the Bragan family -- and what better way to celebrate a silver anniversary than with some actual silver (or at least a reasonable facsimile)? On Thursday, the first 3,000 fans through the gates at Jacksonville's Baseball Grounds will receive a Bragan Family Commemorative Coin, featuring silhouettes of chairman Peter Bragan Sr. and president Peter Bragan Jr. Financial experts are already declaring Bragan Family coins to be the most stable and reliable currency on the world market, so if you value economic security it really would be a good idea to attend this ballgame.
Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Postgame Concert with Mike Peters of The Alarm, April 9
The opportunity to see nine innings of professional baseball is, of course, reason enough to get out to the ballpark. And "Thirsty Thursday" dollar drink specials can only increase one's desire to see a game. But on Opening Night, the Storm are offering even more. Upon the conclusion of their contest against the rechristened Visalia Rawhide, Mike Peters (of the late, great 1980s alternative group The Alarm) will perform a postgame concert at the Storm's Diamond Club. Admission is $5, a small price to pay to see the frontman of a group that once opened for the likes of U2 and Bob Dylan.
Mississippi Braves (Southern League)
Giveaways Galore, April 9-11
While high-concept theme nights are all well and good, it's important to remember that fans are always going to be responsive to that most tried and true promotional lure: free stuff. The reigning Southern League champion Mississippi Braves will be handing out a vast supply of such items throughout their season-opening homestand. On Thursday, in addition to the requisite schedule magnets, fans will receive replica championship rings and foam tomahawks. On Friday, replica championship ring trophies will be distributed, while Saturday features a bronze mini-plaque giveaway as well as an appearance by the often-imitated, never-duplicated Zooperstars. Far from an anomalous occurrence, these promos foreshadow a season-long strategy that originally was advocated by the Red Hot Chili Peppers: "Give It Away."
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
Bruce Dal Canton Tribute and Memorial Plaque Giveaway, April 9
From the team's inception in 1999 until his death last year at age 66, former Major Leaguer Bruce Dal Canton served as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans pitching coach. In this capacity, he became a well-known and deeply respected figure in the local community. On Thursday, the Pelicans will honor a life well-lived by staging a pregame Opening Night ceremony. Steve Blass, a teammate of Dal Canton's on the Pittsburgh Pirates, will throw out the first pitch and a wide variety of video tributes will be shown. In addition, the first 1,000 fans through the turnstiles will receive plaques commemorating the life of the man affectionately known as "DC."
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Midwest League)
Fang/Bernie Dual Bobblehead, April 9
Thursday kicks off an exciting new era for the Timber Rattlers, as they are now the Class A affiliate of the nearby Milwaukee Brewers. Obviously, the best way for two entities to celebrate a new and mutually beneficial relationship is to commemorate it with a dual bobblehead, so that's exactly what Timber Rattlers fans have to look forward to on Opening Night. This masterpiece of the bobble form features Brewers mascot Bernie shaking hands with Timber Rattlers mascot Fang; both of these multitasking individuals are also giving an enthusiastic thumbs-up. As an added bonus, this bobblehead should lay to rest the longstanding rumor that beer-guzzling Midwesterners don't get along with snakes.
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Opening Night featuring Julio Osegueda, April 10
Two months ago, 19-year-old Fort Myers resident Julio Osegueda became an overnight celebrity, thanks to his enthusiastic back-and-forth with President Obama at a Town Hall meeting. In response to the president's question regarding his career goals, Osegueda mentioned he was a communications major who wished to be a radio broadcaster. The always-proactive Miracle immediately tracked down Osegueda and offered him a gig as color commentator during the club's home opener against the Charlotte Stone Crabs. On Friday, fans will have the opportunity to hear Osegueda in action as he takes a significant first step toward a new career.
Kinston Indians (Carolina League)
Remembering Delmont Miller Night, April 10
Longtime Kinston Indians scoreboard operator Delmont Miller died last October at age 42, leaving a void in the Grainger Stadium press box that can never be filled. MiLB.com's Lisa Winston profiled Miller in a 2006 article, calling him a "legend in the Carolina League" due to the wide variety of antics he engaged in on a nightly basis (such as giving "shoutouts" to fans in attendance and enthusiastically announcing what he had for dinner). On Friday, the Indians will pay tribute to Miller, giving fans in attendance the chance to reflect on the humor and energy he brought to the stadium every day.
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Win the Boss' Money Night with Wallet Giveaway, April 11
Grits Roll, April 13
The RiverDogs have long had a reputation as one of the most irreverent teams in the Minor Leagues, and things are only going to get crazier in 2009. On Saturday, the first 1,000 fans will receive a RiverDogs wallet. Some of these wallets will be stuffed with money, while others will contain an invitation to participate in a sure-to-be-entertaining scramble -- $1,000 will be scattered around the outfield, and contestants will have 90 seconds to pick up as much of it as they can. Those who feel that such a contest would leave too much of their dignity intact should attend Tuesday's game, in which fans can jump into a pool of grits to gain as much weight as possible.
Huntsville Stars (Southern League)
Desperate Househusbands Night, April 11
If your marriage is like the "Lockhorns" comic come to life, then the Stars have a promotion for you. Men who bring their "Honey Do" list of chores to the game will receive a half-price ticket, and these emasculating missives will be read over the PA. Whoever submits the best "Honey Do" list receives an excellent prize -- Stars' staff will do the chores instead. Many husbands who buy tickets will leave early, however, due to the fact that the Stars also will be providing alibis. From the team's Web site: "We'll take your photo during pregame activities and email it to your wife and/or girlfriend, and you can leave the stadium and have the night off while she thinks you're at the game."
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com.