Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. Every Tuesday we'll preview the week ahead, highlighting the best and brightest (not to mention strangest) that the industry has to offer. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature, please send it to email@example.com with the subject line "Promo Preview."
Jamie Moyer's big league comeback at the age of 49 has led to a surge of interest in the ageless southpaw, and Minor League teams, as they are wont to do, have found ways to capitalize on this public fascination.
Last month the Altoona Curve held a Moyer Megabowl, featuring a plethora of ticket deals and in-game prizes related to the number 49. Anyone named "Jamie" or "Moyer" got in free, and a local woman by the name of, yes, Jamie Moyer threw out the first pitch.
It's not known whether this Jamie Moyer of Altoonian origin was able to throw 78 miles an hour like her male counterpart, but it sure isn't likely. The Fort Myers Miracle have made this strikingly clear via their "Can you throw harder than Jamie Moyer?" speed pitch promotion. Those who can exceed Moyer's velocity get free tickets to an upcoming game, but that's easier said than done. Thus far, more than 160 hardy souls have tried and failed.
But there's only one Minor League team that had a Jamie Moyer promotion on the calendar before the season started, when it was still unclear whether or not he'd be in the Major Leagues at all in 2012. That would be the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who on Tuesday (May 15) will be distributing 3,500 Jamie Moyer high school bobbleheads. The items commemorate Moyer's origins in the Lehigh Valley area -- he was born in Sellersville, Pa. and went on to pitch for the Souderton High School Indians in the late '70s and early '80s.
The bobbleheads feature Moyer in his red and white Souderton uniform, ready to uncork a pitch at speeds approaching (and possibly greater than) 78 mph. The IronPigs were inspired to honor Moyer in such a fashion after the success of a 2011 bobblehead that paid tribute to the North Hampton High School roots of fellow local-boy-made-good Brian Schneider (currently a catcher with the Phillies).
"Last year, we had a lot of people from North Hampton come out for the Schneider bobblehead, and hopefully we'll get the same response from Souderton for Jamie Moyer," said IronPigs director of promotions Lindsey Knupp. "I've talked to [Souderton's] athletic director, and some of their baseball team will be recognized on the field before the game."
The bobblehead is based on a photo that Knupp obtained after visiting the home of Moyer's parents, who have what she deemed a "shrine" to Jamie's career in the basement. They'll be in attendance Tuesday as well -- Jamie's father is throwing out the first pitch, and his mother has even offered to catch it.
"She's the lefty in the family," said Knupp. "She says that Jamie got his tendencies from her."
Paying tribute to Charlie
The Memphis Redbirds family suffered a shocking loss last season, when announcer Charlie Lea died suddenly at the age of 54. Lea grew up in Memphis and later pitched for the Memphis Chicks en route to an 11-year Major League career. He returned to Memphis upon the conclusion of his playing career, and spent 2001-11 in the Redbirds broadcast booth.
The Redbirds retired Lea's microphone on Opening Day and will pay further tribute on Thursday. The team is announcing the finalists for its inaugural Charlie Lea Award (honoring Memphis' top high school pitchers), and throughout the game the team will play audio clips from the no-hitter that Lea pitched for the Montreal Expos in 1981. Thursday marks the 31st anniversary of this memorable accomplishment.
Once a Port, always a Port
The Stockton Ports have a long and illustrious California League history that dates back to 1941, and in recent years, they've launched an ambitious effort to connect with alumni from all eras of the franchise's existence. The team's annual alumni picnic (.pdf) takes place on Saturday, with all proceeds benefitting the Anchor Fund charitable foundation. The alumni in attendance range from old-timers such as Vic Solari (1951) to players of relatively recent vintage like G.J. Raymundo (2002-03).
Searching for booty
If you live in the Northeast, are in possession of a vehicle and a digital camera and revel in the thrill of the hunt, then make sure to get to Trenton on Saturday. The team is hosting its first-ever Treasure Hunt, an all-day extravaganza described in the press release thusly:
"The Hunt will start at Mercer County Waterfront Park at 12:00 p.m., and participants will be given a map, a list of items and locations with corresponding point values then depart to begin hunting. The Treasure Lists will include items that need to be collected (example: a Trenton Thunder hat) and places that need to be visited (example: take a picture of a specific local landmark)."
Treasure seekers may register in groups of 2-4 people (at $25 per), with all proceeds benefiting Trenton Thunder charities. In addition to the feeling the exhilarating thrill of victory, the team that tallies the most points will walk away with a cool $1,000.
Some teams aren't afraid to get weird when it comes to theme nights, and chief among them are the Hickory Crawdads. Monday is Redundancy Night, and though it might make the most sense to stage another Redundancy Night on Tuesday, that day is instead Agoraphobia Night. Promotions director Jared Weymeier was kind enough to fill me in on both of these unorthodox innovations, because Lord knows that I wouldn't have been able to figure it out for myself.
"Anything and everything that we do during the ballgame will be repeated. Anything and everything that we do during the ballgame will be repeated," wrote Weymeier about Redundancy Night. "During our pregame festivities, our first-pitch throwers will throw out two first pitches. At the ticket window, all twins get in free on the day of the game. In game, when players come up to bat, we will announce them twice and have the same walk up song for the entire inning. Players will have two headshot pictures on the video board during at bats and their stats will be duplicated as well. ... At the end of the ballgame, staff will pass out our pocket schedules to fans and then ask them if they would like another pocket schedule."
And what of Agoraphobia Night?
"Agoraphobia usually involves fear of crowds. Therefore, in order to calm our fans' nerves, we are going to be seating people in different rows," wrote Weymeier. "For example, if a family of four comes to the game they will be assigned a row in one of our sections. We will not sell another ticket in that row in order to give people their space! We will also be doing on field competitions involving other phobias throughout the night."
Here's hoping that this promotion proves popular -- "Agoraphobia Night Draws Sellout Crowds" would be a great headline.
Into the ellipse...
An exceedingly brief rundown of other notable promotions taking place this week (with an emphasis on bobbleheads not honoring Jamie Moyer's high school exploits)...
- May 11: The Charlotte Knights are hosting a Girl Scout Sleepover after the ballgame, making the evening's Jersey Pillow giveaway particularly apropos. ... Get ready to plunk down $3.78 or so for admission to the Dunedin Blue Jays game, as tickets will be sold at the same price as a gallon of gas.
- May 12: The Fresno Grizzlies are giving away a Sergio Romo bobblehead that is identical to the version being distributed by their parent club the San Francisco Giants. ... In Gwinnett County, the Braves honor backstop Brian McCann with his own bobblehead. ... Albert Pujols is part of the Angels family now, so Class A Advanced affiliate Inland Empire is wasting no time in giving away a Pujols bobblehead. ... Northwest Arkansas is handing out bobbleheads featuring Royals Hall of Famer George Brett in a Naturals jersey.
- May 14: Desirous of formidable facial hair, but unable/unwilling to do the work? Then get thee to Little Rock for the Travelers' Matt Shoemaker Goatee Shirt giveaway, honoring the team's standout starting pitcher in 2011.