Highlights of this year's Lake Elsinore Storm promotional calendar include theme nights built around cosplay, superheroes, Star Wars and video games.
What makes this unique? The promos are occurring on four consecutive nights over the course of one series against Lake Elsinore's divisional foes, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. This quartet of sci-fi-influenced celebrations is branded, quite simply, as GEEKend.
GEEKend 4, to be exact, as the Storm -- Class A Advanced affiliate of the San Diego Padres -- are following a basic formula that was first established in 2014. The team's intent is simply to appeal to as many self-identified geeks as possible over as concentrated a time span as possible. After all, if someone's a Star Wars fan, then they probably like superhero comic books and movies -- and so on and so forth. There is significant overlap within the Venn diagram of geek culture, and geek culture comprises a huge subset of American pop culture interests and pursuits. And what are Minor League Baseball promotions if not a reflection of America's pop culture obsessions?
"We wanted to build off what we've done over the past several years," said Storm general manager Raj Narayanan, who credited assistant general manager Mark Beskid with originating the GEEKend concept. "We know what's working, and what gets the fans involved."
GEEKend 4 kicks off with Thursday's Cosplay Night, in which fans are encouraged -- via free tickets -- to dress up as their favorite book, movie or video game characters. The dress-up continues into Friday's Superhero Night as fans wearing the costume of their favorite superhero get in free. Star Wars Night, on Saturday, features a "Dark Lord" Storm hat giveaway (and, yes, there's a theme here: fans are encouraged to come to the ballpark dressed as a favorite character).
"We've never done a Star Wars-related giveaway," said Narayanan. "That seems like a crazy thing to say, since we have one of the longest-running Star Wars nights in all of baseball. Another thing this year that's a little different is that we're partnering with the San Diego Blood Bank and having a ballpark blood drive Friday and Saturday."
GEEKend concludes with Gamer Night, dedicated to video games and those who love them. And, yes, fans who dress up as their favorite characters receive free admission. (The team notes that, in all cases, wearing a T-shirt does not constitute "dressing up.") Gamer Night also includes a "used videogame drive" with the team awarding one free ticket for every game donated.
"[GEEKend] has been a real team effort," said Narayanan. "It just keeps growing every year."
Coming Soon! If more Minor League promos are what you're looking for, then more Minor League promos are what you'll find.
June 7: Jerry "The King" Lawler, who once clotheslined a cauliflower in Reading, Pennsylvania, headlines Charlotte's "Royalty Knight."
June 8: The Binghamton Rumble Ponies pay tribute to the sitcom "Big Bang Theory" by hosting a "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock" rock-paper-scissors tournament.
In Durham, the Bulls have once again partnered with local clothing company RUNAWAY to create "DURM" uniforms emphasizing local architecture.
June 9: The Altoona Curve continue their longtime penchant for pop culture-referencing player bobbleheads with a Josh "Gotta Have More Josh Cow Bell" giveaway.
UFC star Stipe Miocic, a native of Euclid, Ohio, will be honored with his own bobblehead courtesy of his hometown Minor League team, the Lake County Captains.
According to my unofficial tally, there are five Minor League teams hosting Star Wars promotions this week. But only one team is giving away bobbleheads featuring their mascot wielding a lightsaber. That team is the Pawtucket Red Sox, and that mascot is Paws.
When Salt Lake hosts Albuquerque, both teams will be wearing '70s throwback uniforms: It'll be the Gulls versus the Dukes.
June 10: On "Superhero Night," the Gwinnett Braves pay tribute to the high-flying abilities of current Atlanta (and former Gwinnett) infielder Rio Ruiz.
The Portland Sea Dogs celebrate their region's LGBTQIA fans on "Pride Night," which is taking place amid their city's larger "Portland Pride!" festival.
June 11: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when it's available all day (and night) long. That's the thinking behind the Myrtle Beach Pelicans' "Breakfast Night," which also includes a pillowcase giveaway as well as the directive to "wear your PJs to the ballpark!"