Mud Hens ready to salute Ghostbusters
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 a Tweet to @bensbiz, hashtag "#promopreview."
The Toledo Mud Hens' "30th Anniversary of Ghostbusters" celebration won't take place until Friday, but the promotion has already gone viral. Twice.
At the end of February, the Mud Hens unveiled the jerseys they would be wearing for this occasion, which are modeled after the uniforms worn by Venkman, Egon, Ray and Winston in the film. The Internet responded with wild enthusiasm to these slime-stained duds, which are the first uniforms in professional sports history to feature proton pack straps.
"We thought the [the jerseys] would be big, because of the response we got last year to the Chewbacca jerseys we did on Star Wars Night," said Andi Roman, the Mud Hens' communications director. "It all came about during an offseason brainstorming meeting, trying to figure out a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters."
One aspect of these celebrations that the Mud Hens staff did not anticipate was an endorsement from none other than Peter Venkman himself. Bill Murray is co-owner of the Charleston RiverDogs and a big supporter of Minor League Baseball in general.
"One of our former interns now works for the RiverDogs, and we reached out to him. Maybe he could get Bill to do a promo for us?" said Roman. "Sure enough, we got a video and there was Bill. We put the background in, of [Toledo's] Fifth Third Field, and put it out there. It's incredible."
That video, in which Murray channels the spirit of the late Harry Caray and urges fans to attend Friday's Mud Hens game, has received more than 250,000 views on YouTube.
"We're glad he took the time to do it. It wasn't scripted, he just stood in front of the green screen and did his thing," said Roman.
Friday's promotion should live up to the hype. The first 2,000 fans through the gates receive light-up ectoplasm glasses, and the specialty Ghostbusters jerseys will be auctioned off for charity following the conclusion of the ballgame. Many of the between-innings contests and videoboard graphics will be Ghostbusters-themed, and the team is inviting fans to come to the ballpark dressed as their favorite character from the film. These efforts will be augmented by the efforts of a local Ghostbusters fan club, whose members are attending the game en masse and in costume.
"We have our stun guns, and the proton packs are primed and ready to go," said Roman. "Us Mud Hens ain't afraid of no ghost."
Best of the Rest
El Paso Chihuahuas (Pacific Coast League)
National Anthem sung by the cast of Jersey Boys, May 28
The hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys is playing in El Paso this weekend, and 12 members of the cast are kicking off their time in the city by singing the national anthem at a Chihuahuas game. The musical, which chronicles the meteoric rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, has already garnered Tony and Grammy Awards. But those in the know know that you haven't truly made it until you've sung in front of a crowd of schoolchildren prior to a Pacific Coast League contest that starts at 11:05 a.m.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Mountain Man appearance, May 29
Since the beginning of the 2014 season, I have done my best to keep you abreast of the whereabouts of Mountain Man. This peripheral Duck Dynasty character is one of the most in-demand celebrities on the Minor League touring circuit, and this week one can find him in Richmond (May 28), Bowie (May 29) and Montgomery (May 31). Mountain Man's appearance in Bowie is worthy of a special mention, however, as the Baysox's opponent is none other than the Akron RubberDucks. Who will Mountain Man root for? The team that is paying his appearance fee or the team representing the species of fowl that has improbably propelled him to B-level celebrity?
New Britain Rock Cats (Eastern League)
Jack O'Lantern Jerseys on Halloween Night, May 31
The indignities of the Minor League life are many, from low pay to long bus rides to less-than-appetizing clubhouse spreads. But perhaps the greatest indignity -- or at least the most underreported -- is to take the field wearing a holiday-themed jersey during a time of year in which said holiday does not take place. Such will be the plight of the New Britain Rock Cats on Saturday, when they will play a professional baseball game whilst sporting smiling jack-o-lanterns across their navels. But all is not lost, as the proceeds from these bright orange jerseys benefit the Rock Cats charitable foundation. Even better, one does not need to be at the ballgame in order to obtain one. Simply click here, and bid to your heart's content.
Akron RubberDucks (Eastern League)
Journalism Day, June 1
The RubberDucks are doing a great service to aspiring scribes this season, as on Sunday (and every subsequent Sunday game) the team is hosting Journalism Day at the ballpark. This partnership with the local West Side Leader is open to local students who have just completed any of grades four through 11. Participants will watch batting practice from the field, sit with a beat writer during the game and conduct postgame interviews with RubberDucks players and coaches. Here's hoping the first thing they learn is to never begin an interview question with "Talk about..."
Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
10 cent (per ounce) Beer Night, June 3
One of the greatest promotional disasters in the history of baseball was the Cleveland Indians' "10-cent Beer Night" of 1974, which resulted in drunken riots in the stands and, eventually, drunken riots on the field. The Fort Myers Miracle are, perhaps unadvisedly, bringing this debacle into the 21st century via Tuesday's 10-cent (per ounce) beer promotion. Riots and generally unruly behavior will most likely be kept to a minimum, however, as Minor League Baseball crowds in Southwest Florida are far more genteel to those found in beleaguered post-industrial Midwest cities during the 1970s. Leave the pepper spray at home -- you won't need it.
Because there's always more where that came from, here's a succinct list of other notable promotions taking place in Minor League Baseball this week.
- May 29: Josh Donaldson, a man if not a myth or a legend, is honored with his own bobblehead by the Stockton Ports.
- May 30: Tigers outfielder Ron LeFlore, whose life was the subject of a 1978 TV movie starring LeVar Burton, visits the West Michigan Whitecaps.
- May 31: Sox the Fox, one of the better-named mascots to be found in the Minors, is immortalized in bobblehead form courtesy of his Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
- June 1: Think Starling Marte is too hot to handle? Then attend the Altoona Curve game in order to receive a Starling Marte oven mitt. … Not one but two teams are staging a postgame helicopter candy drop: the Frederick Keys and Visalia Rawhide.
- June 3: Will Middlebrooks, the man, the myth, the legend, is honored with his own bobblehead by the Portland Sea Dogs.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.