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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send a Tweet to @bensbiz, hashtag "#promopreview."
If you're reading this column, then you probably know that ridiculous theme jerseys have been all the rage this season in Minor League Baseball. Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Santa Claus, larger-than-life Chihuahuas -- it's all fair game.
But theme jerseys are about more than click-baiting one-upmanship. In some cases they are created to raise awareness of issues that are, quite literally, matters of life and death. A notable example this week comes courtesy of the Brevard County Manatees, who on Saturday will be wearing "Cancer Survivor" theme jerseys. The front features a lavender ribbon -- the color used to denote all types of cancer -- while ribbons representing more than 15 types of cancer are included on the back.
"The promotion started simply, with Cancer Care Centers of Brevard (CCCB) sponsoring a fireworks show to raise public awareness about the importance of early cancer detection," wrote Manatees ticket sales manager John Manzoian in an email. "From there the wheels quickly started turning and it evolved into being about much more than just a game of baseball; it was an evening dedicated to the theme of 'strike out cancer.' When I started discussing the night with CCCB, I could tell the strong personal connection they had with each of their patients and I knew right away we could turn this night into something special."
"CCCB's mission is to promote the importance of early cancer detection, which gives the patient a better outcome in their fight against this dreaded disease," added CCCB marketing manager Marta Fiol. "Our tagline reads 'At CCCB, every month is cancer awareness month.'"
Two four-time cancer survivors, Ed Lambie and Lorraine Kuriger, will launch the evening by throwing ceremonial first pitches. Then, when the Manatees take the field, they will be joined by five children who are fighting cancer. This sets the stage for later in the evening -- at the conclusion of the sixth inning, cancer survivor Gaye Lewis will hit a "home run to remember" while wearing a team-signed cancer survivor jersey. She'll be congratulated on the base paths by both teams as her inspiring story is read over the PA, and, upon reaching home, fireworks will light up the night sky.
One doesn't have to be a Brevard County resident to be part of this special night -- the cancer survivor jerseys are being auctioned online with proceeds benefiting the Cancer Care Centers Foundation.
"It has been a joy planning this evening at the ballpark," said Manzoian. "The staff, doctors and volunteers that have all helped to make this event possible have been terrific to work with, and there's no doubt about why they are able to make such an impact in this community."
Best of the rest
Arkansas Travelers (Texas League)
Clunker Boat Night, July 25
The Arkansas Travelers are pioneers of the Clunker Car Night promo, in which used cars of less-than-stellar quality are given away throughout the ballgame. This year, they've decided to expand on this established concept by staging Clunker Boat Night. There are no guarantees regarding the quality of the boats that are being given away, other than that they will indeed float. If you think a boat needs to do anything more than that, than you, sir, are an insufferable nautical elitist.
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Midwest League)
20th Century Night, July 25
This is America. Our time is precious and we don't have enough of it. The TinCaps know this, so rather than stage a series of tedious decade-themed promos over the course of the season, they're going to go ahead and pay tribute to the entire 20th century in one night. Each inning break will be dedicated to a particular decade, with music, fashions and vernacular specific to that particular era. Extra innings could be problematic, however. As the team notes, "If the 90's become 2000, all of our computers might stop working!"
Potomac Nationals (Carolina League)
'Merica Night, July 25
By saying "'Merica" instead of "America," you are letting people know that you recognize the absurdity of present-day U.S. culture but choose to revel in it rather than transcend it. So be it. Sunday is "'Merica Night" in Potomac, during which the Nationals will stuff money into select hot dog wrappers, stage an apple pie-eating contest and, taking a cue from a recent Charleston RiverDogs' endeavor, hold an on-field "Justin Bieber Demolition." I guess that's because he's Canadian, and true 'Mericans don't love nobody but other true 'Mericans.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
Local First Responders Playing Card Set, July 25
Military Trading Card sets, honoring local active personnel and veterans alike, have been popular in Minor League Baseball this season. The Spikes are tweaking the formula on Sunday; instead of military members they'll be paying tribute to State College-area first responders, and they're doing so with a set of playing cards. Here's hoping that these first responders will be in attendance, as the Spikes are staging a "Pyro Musical" fireworks display after the game and that sounds kind of dangerous.
Akron RubberDucks (Eastern League)
Hot Tub Survivor Night, July 29
Back when they were known as the Aeros, Akron's Minor League Baseball entity held a "Car Survivor" promotion in which individuals lived in an automobile and the last person left got to drive it home. We're now living in the RubberDucks era, and the team has adjusted the contest accordingly. Now, contestants must sit in a concourse hot tub filled with rubber ducks. The last person to leave this yellow-hued ocean of respite wins the hot tub, but not the rubber ducks. Is it really worth it, then?
Because there are even more ducks on the promotional pond than those included above, here's a succinct rundown of other notable promos taking place this week:
- July 23: Steve Rogers, a former Montreal Expos pitcher (is there any other kind?) visits the Vancouver Canadians.
- July 24: The Bowie Baysox celebrate Christmas in July the only way they know how -- by giving away a bobblehead in which Manny Machado is depicted as Santa Claus. ... The Famous Chicken comes out of semi-retirement to visit the Nashville Sounds in this, their last season at Greer Stadium.
- July 25: In Lake County, the Captains once again give away a bobblehead depicting Skipper the mascot in a scene from "A Christmas Story." This time, he's getting his mouth washed out with soap. ... The kinkiest giveaway of the season comes courtesy of the Orem Owlz, who are distributing "50 Shades of [mascot] Holly Thumbcuffs." ... Mountain Man, everyone's favorite peripheral "Duck Dynasty" character, visits the Williamsport Crosscutters.
- July 26: The Brooklyn Cyclones honor their long-time on-field emcee King Henry with a bobblehead in which he is depicted as Elvis. ... Midgets will wrestle each other at a Northwest Arkansas Naturals game. Begin manufacturing your outrage now. ... Mountain Man continues his season-long tour of the Minor League landscape with a visit to the State College Spikes.
- July 27: The Bowie Baysox return to their "Roots" with a tribute to Jimmy Fallon.
- July 28: It's "Quirky Fan Tricks Night" at the Mobile BayBears game. Prepare to be nonplussed.
- July 29: Mitch Williams, who once ran a bowling alley in New Jersey, visits the Trenton Thunder.