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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Promo Preview."
Speed dating is normally not an activity that could be viewed as fun for the whole family, but, then again, what the Lowell Spinners have planned for Wednesday is anything but normal.
The Spinners are staging "Speed Dating with Tyler Seguin," during which the Boston Bruins star (and supremely eligible bachelor) will meet with interested suitors in a "private section" of LeLacheur Park. And, yes, these lucky ladies will be permitted to bring along the whole family during their allotted half-inning engagement with the 20-year-old skating sensation.
"The biggest draw [of this promotion] is letting our winners bring their family with them," said Spinners director of media relations Jon Boswell. "Everyone loves Tyler Seguin, and we wanted to bring everyone into the loop."
Those who receive some much-coveted face time with young Mr. Seguin will be given the opportunity to, as Boswell says, "ask him anything they want, get autographs, and take pictures." Photo plaques commemorating the speed dating experience will be given to each woman at the conclusion of the contest.
And, yes, despite the all-inclusive approach, you must be a woman to win. The only way to guarantee some private time with Seguin is to bid for the experience in an online auction, but other possibilities abound. The Spinners are staging contests through Facebook and Twitter, in which hopeful ladies explain why they are deserving of meeting Seguin ("Twitter will be more difficult, because the answer can't be more than 140 characters," said Boswell). But even if that fails, all is not lost. "Lucky" concession items and gameday programs will also give fans the chance to win, and the Spinners will stage on-field obstacle races between four Seguin jersey-wearing women to determine the final spot.
One thing's for certain: the competition will be fierce.
"Since the day we announced this, the phones have been ringing non-stop," said Boswell. "We've had all kinds of people asking, and everyone's looking to pull the favor card. 'How can my wife or girlfriend or daughter meet Tyler?' I've never had to say 'no' more times than I have with this one."
A Ward-winning promo
And since we're on the topic of the Spinners, let's turn our attention to what the team has planned for Thursday (the day after the speed dating extravaganza). The first 1,000 fans receive garden gnomes in the likeness of legendary fighter and Lowell native Micky Ward. Boswell says that this promo is the result of the Spinners wanting to "do something out of the box." So, they got in touch with a boxer.
"We called [Ward] up and said, 'What are your thoughts on being a garden gnome?' His response was 'huh?' said Boswell, doing his best to mimic Ward's gravely tone of voice. "Once we explained it he said, 'Ah, it sounds great. Just make sure it looks as much like me as possible' ... [The gnome] is going to protect the garden really well -- it will give a stiff right hook to any squirrels or bunnies trying to get at the vegetables."
The original, and still the best
"Clunker Car" promotions (and derivatives thereof) have become commonplace throughout the Minor Leagues, as the spectacle of giving away less-than-mint condition automobiles will always be entertaining. But the Arkansas Travelers will have you know that that they did it first and that they still do it the best. "THE ORIGINAL CLUNKER CAR NIGHT" is how the event is billed on their promotional calendar. "Biggest night of the baseball season! A used car given away every single inning!"
The Travs are giving away the clunker cars on Friday, but if the methodical distribution of certified lemons isn't your thing, then maybe you'll want to hold off attending the ballgame until Saturday. That evening's contest will be preceded by the defiantly un-politically correct spectacle that is midget wrestling. Though there is currently no word on which combatants are on this year's bill, it will be tough to surpass 2011's heavyweight championship bout between Bobby Dean and his arch-nemesis Lil Kato.
Democracy in action
Last week's column featured a write-up on the "Bobblection" promotions that are currently sweeping the Minor League landscape, but on Friday the Huntsville Stars are finding a more meaningful way to combine baseball and politics. It's "Candidates Night," and all contenders for Huntsville's upcoming mayoral election will be in attendance. The team explains that "Every candidate will have a table on the concourse to meet and greet Stars fans and will address the crowd before the game, so come out and meet the future mayor of Huntsville!"
A brief exploration of an alternate scenario
The Omaha Royals changed their name to the "Storm Chasers" prior to the 2011 campaign, a meteorological moniker that was one of nine finalists in an extensive "Name the Team" contest. The choice of Storm Chasers resulted in no small amount of local controversy, but this brouhaha paled in comparison to what would have resulted had the team chose "OmaHogs" instead. This name, also one of the nine finalists, is the focus of Saturday's "What If? Night" promotion. The Storm Chasers will take the field in special "OmaHogs" jerseys, for the first and almost certainly last time (the jerseys will be auctioned off after the game).
Into the ellipse ...
An exceedingly brief look at other notable promotions taking place this week ...
- Aug. 15: The Reading Phillies host a sure-to-be surreal "Character Dinner," which combines an All-You-Can-Eat buffet with a guest list that includes Screwball, Broccoli, Bucky the Beaver and, of course, the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.
- Aug. 16: The BlueClaws are out of town, but the circus is in town as Cole Brothers Circus of the Stars pitches its tent in the parking lot of Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park.
- Aug. 17: The Memphis Redbirds give away Organ Donor Jersey replica T-shirts, modeled after 2011's innards-exposing theme jerseys. ... In Wilmington, the Blue Rocks pay tribute to the northeastern breakfast delicacy that is scrapple. ... The Williamsport Crosscutters, meanwhile, pay tribute to the less divisive breakfast entity that is bacon.
- Aug. 18: The Charleston RiverDogs give away slippers featuring mascot Charlie, right on the "heels" of last week's distribution of boxer shorts. ... If you've ever wanted to deposit coins into an ultra-realistic dog head, then head to State College for the Spikes' "Bob the Baseball Dog Bank" giveaway.
- Aug. 19: Now here's a unique giveway: the Albuquerque Isotopes distributing "Green Chile Pepper" bobbleheads.
- Aug. 20: The Yakima Bears are staging a "Wine, Women and Baseball" promo and -- look out, ladies! -- I'll be in attendance. ... The Lehigh Valley IronPigs show off their generous side with an "Ultimate Fan Cave" giveaway to one lucky fan.
- Aug. 21: Let's just quit while we're ahead. Thanks for reading.