Promo Preview: Reality and alternates

Bobbleheads, figurines and replicas, but that's not all

By Benjamin Hill / | August 24, 2010 9:15 AM ET

Minor League teams are known for their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays, we'll preview 10 of the best for the week ahead. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature in the future, please send it to with the subject line: "Promo Preview."

Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League)
Battlefield Challenge, concludes Aug. 25

The IronPigs are adding a new dimension to the gameday experience during their five-game homestand, by dubbing one contest "The Battlefield Challenge." Explains the team: "The field at Coca-Cola Park has been divided into six battle zones that each team will attempt to gain control of in an effort to conquer the entire playing surface. ... A base hit into any zone will give the hitting team control of that zone until a base hit from the opposing team lands in that zone." And, should the IronPigs conquer the battlefield, all fans in attendance will be rewarded with steep concession stand discounts throughout the remainder of the contest. It's like Battleship, the dart game Cricket and The Price is Right all rolled into one. Finally.

Toledo Mud Hens (International League)
Be an Extra in "Home Run Showdown," Aug. 26-27

Mud Hen fans have an "extra" reason to come to the ballpark this week, as forthcoming celluloid masterwork Home Run Showdown is being shot at Fifth Third Field on Thursday and Friday. The film, about a ragtag youth baseball team with the goal of shagging balls at MLB's Home Run Derby, stars Matthew Lillard ("Scream") and Dean Cain ("Lois and Clark"). But surpassing the star wattage of these actors are none other than Jose Canseco and his twin brother, Ozzie. It will be tough for Jose to top his emotionally devastating guest turn in a 1998 episode of Nash Bridges, but perhaps director Oz Scott will be able to elicit an even more raw performance within Fifth Third's thespian-friendly confines. Show up and cheer him on!

State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
What If? Night, Aug. 27

The exploration of alternate realities and the infinite possibilities located therein is an emerging promotional trend in Minor League Baseball, and the latest team to hop aboard this highly speculative bandwagon is the State College Spikes. The team will play as "The Haymakers" on Friday, in honor of one of the finalists in 2005's "Name the Team Contest." Special jerseys have been designed for the occasion, marking perhaps the first time in sports history that a clenched fist has factored prominently into a logo. These uniform tops featuring pugilistic pride will be auctioned off to fans following the game, providing the chance to turn an alternate reality into a primary one.

Syracuse Chiefs (International League)
Stephen Strasburg figurine, Aug. 27

Ferociously talented and disconcertingly fragile pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg spent just a half-dozen games as a member of the Syracuse Chiefs, but the venerable International League franchise is doing all it can to immortalize his fleeting time with the club. The first 3,000 fans to purchase a ticket to Friday's game will receive a 6 1/2-inch figurine featuring Strasburg in mid windup, ready to blow away yet another overmatched batsman. The right-hander is wearing a Chiefs home uniform, duds that he sported on four separate occasions en route to the Major Leagues. Real-life Strasburg is 6-foot-4 and can throw the ball 100 miles an hour, suggesting that a 6 1/2-inch version ought be able to jack it up to nearly nine mph.

Bowling Green Hot Rods (Midwest League)
What Could Have Been Night, Part Deux, Aug. 28

The current alternate reality fixation infiltrating the Minor Leagues (see Spikes write up, above) can be traced to the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Last season, the club staged the first ever "What Could've Been Night," dubbing themselves the "Cave Shrimp" in honor of a controversial option in 2008's "Name the Team" contest. Following the season, this pioneering theme night was voted's "Promotion of the Year" based on its multifaceted exploration of a wide range of parallel universes. Now, the sightless crustacean, and all it represents, returns to Bowling Green Ballpark on Saturday for a triumphant victory lap. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a Cave Shrimp figurine, an item that will be proudly displayed throughout the entirety of south central Kentucky.

Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League)
Matt Holliday bobblehead/Elvis Himselvis appearance, Aug. 28

The River Bandits are distributing Matt Holliday bobbleheads on Saturday, commemorating the star player now manning left field for the parent St. Louis Cardinals. But the real draw on this late August evening is Elvis Himselvis, a top-notch Presley impersonator who couples smoldering stares with soulful interpretations of the King's unimpeachable canon of syrupy pop masterpieces. Mr. Himselvis will perform a post-game concert at the River Bandits' Modern Woodmen Park, as an army of undulating Matt Hollidays silently nod along to each and every word.

Tulsa Drillers (Texas League)
ONEOK Field Replica Giveaway, Aug. 28

The big news to emanate from Tulsa this past Friday was that the Drillers had set an all-time attendance record, shattering the previous mark of 351,929 (accomplished in 1999). The biggest reason for the team's smashing success at the gate is brand new ONEOK Field, a downtown facility sporting a brick-heavy exterior and plenty of art deco architectural flourishes. The first 2,000 fans to arrive on Saturday will receive a replica of the stadium they just entered, sure to confuse those who completely lack spatial awareness.

Spokane Indians (Northwest League)
It's Raining Money Night, Aug. 29

Those who enjoy frantically scrambling for legal tender precipitation will be out in force at Spokane's Avista Field on Sunday, as 30 fans will get the opportunity to pick up money after it is dropped from a helicopter. A cool $2,000 will be dispersed, in one-dollar denominations, meaning that the average contestant should depart with $67. That's not quite enough to retire on, but it would cover the cost of Jake and the Fatman, seasons one and two, on DVD.

Lowell Spinners (New York Penn-League)
Scott Brown Bobblehead, Aug. 30

There's no sense in alienating the fan base with polarizing, politically themed giveaways, which is why the Spinners are pandering to both sides of the aisle. The club already distributed bobbleheads of Democratic Senator John Kerry on Aug. 23. Now, it is following up one week later with a giveaway immortalizing his Republican counterpart in Massachusetts, Scott Brown. The handsome conservative is expected to be in attendance at LaLacheur Park that evening, mainly patrolling right field but shading toward center whenever the circumstances demand it.

Eugene Emeralds (Northwest League)
Murder Mystery Night, Aug. 31

This season, the Emeralds have often been spurred to victory at their home ballpark thanks to the smooth dance moves of the mysterious "Rally Koo" (actually, director of ticket operations, Koo Yul Kim). But tragedy has struck! Koo has been kidnapped, and on Tuesday, fans are tasked with finding the culprit. Suspects include a quartet of Koo's rivals, as well as an obsessive female fan. Eagle-eyed watchers of the videoboard will be able to observe these characters and their possible motives through a series of vignettes. Those who solve the mystery will be rewarded with Koo's undying gratitude, as well as tickets to a future ballgame.

Bonus coverage: Because this is the way it is, and some things never change, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but weren't:

Rivalry Night (Fort Myers Miracle, Aug. 18): Just for fun, Yankees fans were seated next to Red Sox supporters.

Ryan Howard's number retired (Lakewood BlueClaws, Aug. 20): In a nice example of multi-tasking, the BlueClaws retired Howard's number while he was in town on a rehab assignment.

Cell Phone Olympics (Modesto Nuts, Aug. 20): This got a great reception, and a wide range of coverage.

Trucker cap giveaway (Vancouver Canadians, Aug. 20): Apparently these are back in style north of the border. Or, more likely, they never went out of style.

Ticket amnesty (Altoona Curve, Aug. 23): Any ticket stub -- any one at all -- was good for $5 off at the box office. Even if it was for a discount theater's matinee showing of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

Insanely Large Afro Night (Wilmington Blue Rocks, Aug. 23): A hair-raising experience.

Waffle Appreciation Day (Greensboro Grasshoppers, Aug. 24): Highlighted by a waffle eating contest, won last season by very hungry front-office employee, Travis Kerstetter.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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