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 email@example.com with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send him a Tweet -- hashtag "#promopreview."
The Modesto Nuts are staging "Military Appreciation Night" on Saturday, but it's the daytime portion of the festivities that should prove to be the most memorable.
Gates at John Thurman Stadium are opening at 4 p.m., two hours earlier than usual, as prior to that night's regularly scheduled California League contest, the Nuts are hosting the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. This squadron of war veterans -- all of whom sustained injuries after 9/11 -- will take on the local Stanislau Senior Softball Association.
Nuts director of public relations Justin McKissick recommends that fans get to the ballpark early.
"It's going to be a very inspiring thing to see, cheering on these people who defended our freedom and are fighting for it still," he said. "This is just our way of saying thank you."
The Nuts' prolonged expression of gratitude is scheduled to begin as soon as the Wounded Warriors arrive, as members of the Patriot Guard Riders will form a "motorcycle tunnel" from the bus to the stadium. Once inside, the team will receive World Series-style introductions while lined up along the base paths. That segues into a softball contest that should amply demonstrate Wounded Warrior's stated goal of showing "other amputees and the general population that these athletes, through extensive rehabilitation and training, are able to express their desires and perform the sport they loved."
The Military Appreciation theme will extend throughout the entirety of the evening, as additional highlights include a pregame flyover by a World War II-era fighter plane, a flag presentation by the Marine Corps Color Guard and a ceremony honoring the Gold Star families in attendance.
"This is our way to do what little we can, in honor of those who've sacrificed so much for us," said McKissick.
Frederick Keys (Carolina League) Clue Night -- Wednesday, July 17
Gumshoes, sleuths, detectives and whodunit aficionados of all stripes will want to be at Frederick's Harry Grove Stadium on Wednesday as the Keys host "Clue Night." An elaborate -- some might even say Byzantine -- storyline will play out over the course of the evening, with ballpark celebrities such as mascot Keyote and "hot dog man" inserting themselves into the narrative. The gold standard for this type of promotion remains the State College Spikes "CSI Night" in 2009, when a dogged group of intern detectives solved the case of "Who Stole Ike the Mascot's Hat." Will the Keys be able to reach such lofty heights?
Bakersfield Blaze (California League) Roller Derby Softball Battle -- Friday, July 19
I learn a lot of random things about America in the course of researching this column, and among the things I learned this week is that Bakersfield has a thriving roller derby scene. On Friday, two entities within this robust subculture will ditch their skates in favor of bats -- prior to that evening's Blaze game, the Bakersfield Unforgiven take on the Bakersfield Diamond Divas in a so-called "Softball Battle." For what it's worth, I'll be rooting from afar for the Diamond Divas, as I find their self-described "glamorous and dangerous" 1940s pin-up aesthetic far more appealing than the Unforgiven's "We are the elite" chest-thumping.
Lake County Captains (Midwest League) Puffy Coat Skipper Bobblehead -- Saturday, July 20
It's July, which in the world of Minor League Baseball means that it's time for another round of "Christmas in July" promotions. And in Lake County, this means that it is once again time for the Captains to pay tribute to The Christmas Story in bobblehead form (the movie was filmed near the team's Cleveland-area environs). Past editions of this promotion have referenced leg lamps and frozen tongues; this year, in an homage to Randy and his overprotective mother, mascot Skipper is depicted in an overabundance of winter clothing.
Bluefield Blue Jays (Appalachian League) Toboggan Giveaway -- Monday, July 22
2013 marks Promo Preview's eighth season of existence, but it took until now for the words "Toboggan Giveaway" to appear in the column. Credit the Bluefield Blue Jays for making it happen, as on Monday they are distributing toboggans to the first 500 fans to pass through the gates of venerable Bowen Field. The team notes on their website that these items are "winter toboggans," so you're out of luck if you were planning on using them for summer activities.
Eugene Emeralds (Northwest League) Bats and Tats Sasquatch Tattoo Competition -- Tuesday, July 23
The Emeralds' new sasquatch-themed logo set was unveiled in the offseason, and if you're anything like me, your first thought was, "Wow, that would make for a great tattoo!" Three lucky individuals will have that dream become a reality on Tuesday, when the Emeralds host a "Bats and Tats" competition. Each of these aforementioned lucky individuals will be inked by a different local tattoo parlor, with fans voting throughout the game (via Twitter) on the best design. And for those fans who are not quite ready to make a permanent commitment, fear not: the Emeralds will be giving away temporary tattoos at the gate.
Into the Ellipse…
Because there's always more where that came from, a brief rundown of other notable promotions taking place this week:
- July 17: The mercurial entity that is the Human Cannonball will thrill and delight at the Altoona Curve game, when he lives up to his name by -- you guessed it -- getting shot out of a cannon.
- July 18: In Lehigh Valley, the IronPigs give away clocks modeled after the Coca-Cola Park scoreboard. You'll want seconds.
- July 19: The Lord might not buy you a Mercedes-Benz, but showing up at the Richmond Flying Squirrels game will get you a Beamer. That would be a bobblehead of Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech head coach.
- July 20: An iconic Coney Island amusement ride shall be distributed in miniature, thanks to the Brooklyn Cyclones' Parachute Jump statue giveaway. ... Summer evenings don't get much better than what will be on offer in Delmarva: a crab feast at the Shorebirds game.
- July 21: Melodramatic masked antics will be in abundance in Inland Empire as the 66ers stage "Lucha Libre Night."
- July 22: What better time for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to give away a team-logo scarf than during a "Christmas in July" promo?
- July 23: The Birmingham Barons celebrate the splendor of their new ballpark the only way they know how: by giving away commemorative puzzles.