Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays this season, we preview 10 of 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@example.com with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send him a Tweet -- hashtag "#promopreview."
Christmas in July is a time-honored Minor League Baseball promotion, but this well-known anomaly has gotten plenty of company through the years.
As part of their desire to celebrate the entirety of the Gregorian calendar over the span of just five months, teams have staged the likes of Thanksgiving in June, Halfway to St. Patrick's Day, Nueve de Mayo and, yes, even "Four Months Until National Talk Like a Pirate Day" (I'm looking in your direction, Akron Aeros). This compulsion to jam as many holiday celebrations into as short an amount of time as possible reaches its (il)logical zenith Friday, when the Binghamton Mets stage an all-encompassing "Off-Season Holiday Celebration."
"There are so many great holidays during the baseball offseason that we don't get to celebrate," wrote B-Mets director of community relations Connor Gates. "[We're] offering fans the opportunity to celebrate them all in one night."
Indeed, they are, as every inning of the ballgame will be devoted to a different holiday. (Consider it nine promotions in one!) Some of the festivities are predictable, such as the Kiss Cam on Valentine's Day, costumes and candy on Halloween, and an appearance by Santa Claus himself during the inning devoted to Christmas.
But others? Not so much.
A food-centric "Thanksgiving" frame is slated to be followed by -- what else? -- Black Friday, an inning-long sale in the team's souvenir store. New Year's Eve occurs during the ninth inning (with the traditional countdown heralding the impending fireworks display), while St. Patrick's Day is commemorated via a temporary slew of drink specials. A third inning Groundhog's Day will include a special appearance by mascot Buddy the Bee, with Gates writing that if Buddy "sees his shadow, there will be six more innings of baseball."
But most memorable of all is Columbus Day, as it marks the first time that the discovery of the new world is commemorated via anthropomorphic regional cuisine.
"For Columbus Day, we'll have our traditional Spiedie Race, featuring Marinade (the Nina), Chef (the Pinta) and Sandwich (Santa Maria)," wrote Gates. "Throughout the course of the race they may get lost and discover something new."
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League) Backyard Makeover, June 19
Fortunately for all involved, "backyard makeover" is not a euphemism for buttocks augmentation surgery. It is what its name implies, as on Wednesday the Flying Squirrels will award one fan (chosen at random among 10 finalists) a backyard makeover consisting of a patio set, bird feeders, a hammock and much more. The contest's presenting sponsor is a local landscaping products provider with the name of Pete Rose, Inc., and though baseball's all-time hit king doesn't have any involvement with the company, they nonetheless ironically brag of providing "Hall of Fame service."
Akron Aeros (Eastern League) Thirsty Thursday/Sausagefest, June 20
The weekly ritual of discounted booze that is Thirsty Thursday is sure to bring out packs of swaggering males to the ballpark, and the Aeros are catering to these beer-loving alphas with the aptly (if perhaps indelicately) named "Sausagefest." Throughout the evening, the team will stage "man-up" contests involving eating, dancing and feats of strength, and the ultimate winner of these battles shall earn the indisputably awesome title of "Sausagefest King." I wish I could provide you with more Sausagefest info, but I can't find any appropriate links.
Salt Lake Bees (Pacific Coast League) Food Challenge Night with Kobayashi, June 21
A truly legendary figure will grace Salt Lake's Spring Mobile Ballpark with his presence Friday, a man who is to competitive eating what Babe Ruth was to baseball. That man is Kobayashi, Coney Island hot dog-eating king-turned-masticator for hire. He'll show off his prodigious talents as part of the Bees' "Food Challenge Night," signing autographs and posing for pictures before competing in an eating contest that the Bees claim will be "indigenous to Salt Lake." Here's hoping that this indigenous foodstuff includes "Jell-O," for which Utahns are known to have a particularly prominent predilection.
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Midwest League) Salute to Paper, June 21
Duck Call Giveaway and Jerky Sampling, June 22
This weekend the Timber Rattlers are offering a great 1-2 of entertaining and regionally specific theme nights, but I don't know any details regarding what it is that the team is planning to do (beyond the fact that they'll be saluting paper on Friday and giving away duck calls and jerky on Saturday). But soon enough I shall have plenty of details as I'll be in attendance at both of these ballgames as part of my latest Minor League stadium road trip. The Timber Rattlers are the first of six teams that I'll be visiting; look for dispatches on MiLB.com, Ben's Biz Blog and via Twitter @bensbiz. You'll be glad you did -- I guarantee it.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League) Tribute to Bad Breakups, June 25
Nearly all of us have had our hearts ripped out at one time or another (in a metaphorical, non-Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom kind of way), so why not relive the bad times at a Minor League Baseball game? The Spikes report that they'll play classic breakup songs and pay homage to infamous celebrity uncouplings, so that we may feel better about ourselves by laughing at the misfortune of others. Laughing through the tears are the Spikes themselves, who may have some personal reasons for staging this promo. Their opponent this evening is new Pirates affiliate the Jamestown Jammers, a relationship made possible by the offseason breakup between Pittsburgh and State College.
Into the ellipse…
Because why stop when you can keep going? Here are more noteworthy promos taking place this week, written up in an exceedingly brief fashion.
- June 20: Last week the Inland Empire 66ers staged "Awful Night." Apparently that was a prelude to tonight's "Zombie Apocalypse Night." Can it get any worse?
- June 21: If you're a redneck and want to participate in a boot camp, then get thee to Frederick. Sgt. Slaughter will be at the Keys game conducting, yep, a Redneck Boot Camp. … It's the first day of summer! The Toledo Mud Hens, whose actions are perpetually apropos, are giving away sunglasses.
- June 22: Approximately a quarter century ago, Randy Johnson was a member of the Jaxsonville Expos. The team -- now the Suns -- is commemorating this by distributing Johnson bobbleheads on "Jaxspos Night." … It's the 1,000th home game in Raley Field history, and as such, the Sacramento River Cats promise a "grand" celebration. … If you know what LARPing is then you're probably into it and, therefore, you'll want to be at the Wilmington Blue Rocks game for "LARPing Night."
- June 23: Minor Leaguers don't get any more talented than Oscar Taveras, who gets his own bobblehead courtesy of his former team the Springfield Cardinals.
- June 25: Internationally agreed upon units of measurement are the order of the day in Hickory, as the Crawdads stage "Metric Madness."