Minor League teams are known for their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays for the remainder of the season, 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 email@example.com with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)
Mystery at the Ballpark, July 28
Wednesday marks the return of the Spikes' groundbreaking "Mystery at the Ballpark," in which a riveting "whodunit" plays out on the videoboard over the course of the ballgame. Each between-inning segment provides a clue, and fans able to solve the mystery receive a free ticket to a future ballgame. In last year's debut "Mystery" promotion, the case that needed to be solved was "Who Stole Ike's Hat" (Ike being the Spikes mascot). The culprit was pitcher Mike Williams, a hapless criminal if there ever was one. In addition to lacking a motive, Williams made the inexcusable blunder of leaving his birth certificate at the crime scene. Despite these missteps, he remains in the Pirates organization and is now pitching with the West Virginia Power.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League)
FlairHair Giveaway, July 29
According to its website, "the original FlairHair visor is the hot new hat product sweeping the United States." This hyperbolic claim may very well be true, as who among us wouldn't enjoy the chance to replace our boring old normal hair with a coif of fluorescent orange spikes? That's the opportunity being offered to young IronPigs supporters Thursday, as the first 3,500 fans 17 or younger receive their very own FlairHair visor. The item is essentially a wig and headband combined, emblazoned with the words "Laugh, Cheer, Oink" and immediately providing the wearer with a hairstyle that makes Bozo the Clown look subdued in comparison.
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
Fan vs. Food, July 29
Christmas in July w/Nutcracker Giveaway, July 30
A coterie of Richmond-area restaurants will be supplying unique regional delicacies for use in the Flying Squirrels' inaugural "Fan vs. Food" competition, a bracket-style tournament between the city's most prodigious eaters. The competition takes place throughout the evening, culminating with the nearly lethal "Triple Atomic Wing" (waivers must be signed before consuming). The first 3,000 fans in attendance receive Thundersticks, ensuring that the din surrounding these brave eaters will be as formidable as the food they are digesting. If all that sounds a bit intense, then perhaps the following evening's "Christmas in July" promotion will be more amenable. Festivities include team logo nutcracker giveaways, real snow and carolers on the concourse, food donations, and of course, team VP Todd Parnell dressed as an elf.
Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League)
Goonies Night with theme jerseys and appearance by Jeff "Chunk" Cohen, July 29
The Steven Spielberg-produced kids' adventure classic The Goonies turns 25 this year, resulting in a preponderance of anniversary celebrations throughout the Minors. But it will be tough for any team to top what the BlueClaws have planned. The evening's special guest is Jeff Cohen, who played "Chunk" in the film. Cohen will pose for pictures, sign autographs and even judge a "Truffle Shuffle" contest (an abdomen-jiggling dance made famous in the film.) The players will get in on the act as well (willingly or not) by taking the field in a Goonies theme jersey inspired by Chunk's proclivity and the always-fashionable Hawaiian shirt. These jerseys are scheduled to be auctioned off for charity after the game, so long as the Fratellis don't steal them first.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League)
Joe Biden Bobblehead Giveaway, July 29
Peoria Chiefs (Midwest League)
Sarah Palin Night, July 30
As part of a coincidental scheduling confluence, both of 2008's vice-presidential contenders are being celebrated at a Minor League ballpark this weekend. The Wilmington Blue Rocks are giving away Joe Biden bobbleheads Thursday, in honor of the 35 years he spent as a Delaware senator. Friday is "Sarah Palin Night" in Peoria, with the Chiefs showing Tina Fey's SNL impression clips on the videoboard, staging Palin trivia contests (including prescribing a gender to each of her children's names) and having their female interns dress in Palin regalia (business suits, hair up, glasses on). The Chiefs attempted to book Palin as the evening's guest of honor but got no response. Maybe she's just "Biden" her time.
Eugene Emeralds (Northwest League)
Springfield's 125th Anniversary Celebration (Simpsons Night), July 30
On "The Simpsons," the family's home of Springfield is meant to resemble Anytown, USA. The city's geographical features shift according to the whims of the plot, and the writers have long made a joke of not revealing what state it is in. However, "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening (and Oregon native) has declared Springfield, Ore., to be the "real" Springfield, an assertion that inspired the nearby Emeralds to stage Friday's promotion. In honor of the city's 125th anniversary, the team will take the field in Simpsons-themed "Springfield Emeralds" jerseys. Clips from the show will be played on the videoboard throughout the evening, with Springfield's mayor and councilmen serving as the guests of honor. Hopefully these individuals are more upstanding than Mayor Quimby and his cohorts.
Jamestown Jammers (New York-Penn League)
Lucy-Desi Night with theme jerseys, July 30
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Marmaduke creator Brad Anderson hail from Jamestown, but these luminaries pale in comparison to the town's brightest star: Lucille Ball. The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center is now located in Jamestown, and this institution has paired up with the Jammers for Friday's "Lucy-Desi Night." The team will literally "Play Ball," taking the field in jerseys reading "Lucy-Desi" across the front (with photos of the showbiz power couple located directly beneath and on the back). Fans wishing to have a Ball take note: some of these one-time-only duds will be auctioned off after the game, with others being saved for next week's celebration of (what would have been) Lucy's 99th birthday.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Three World Record Attempts, July 31
Although the killjoys at Guinness don't always give them official recognition, the Bowie Baysox have long had a penchant for setting world records. The club will make three world record attempts Saturday, headlined by the return of "Most People Sitting on Whoopee Cushions" (which the Baysox attempted from 2003-'05). The first 1,500 fans to register at the ballpark receive a complimentary Whoopee Cushion, which at a designated point in the evening will be deflated via the weight of one's posterior. Also on the agenda is a "Largest Air Guitar Ensemble" and "Most People Doing The Twist" attempt, efforts that at the very least will ensure Bowie a world record in the coveted category of "Most World Record Attempts in One Day at a Minor League Ballpark."
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League)
Ike Davis Bobblehead, Aug. 2
It didn't take long for Ike Davis to make an impression in the Big Apple. Within his first month on the job, the young Mets phenom made three spectacular catches in which he tumbled over the railing of the first-base dugout. In honor of this triumvirate of circus grabs, the fast-acting Cyclones produced a bobblehead displaying an upside-down Ike clinging to a railing with the ball firmly ensconced in his glove. The bobblehead features Ike in a Cyclones uniform, commemorating his status as a member of the 2008 club. He hit .256 in 58 games that year and made just one error over 492 total chances at first base. It is unknown how many of these chances involved a death-defying tumble over a dugout railing.
West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest League)
Bark in the Park featuring World's Largest Dog Wash, Aug. 2
The West Michigan Whitecaps are taking the now-standard "Bark in the Park Night" concept and blowing it out to epic proportions with Monday's promotion. Dogs will be admitted into Fifth Third Field for free, of course, with the first 1,000 fans receiving team-logo dog bowls. Prior to the ballgame is what is being billed as "The World's Largest Dog Wash," in which hordes of unwashed pooches will be cleaned up in exchange for a nominal $5 charitable donation. Special guests include touring canine performer Jake the Diamond Dog as well as children's literature icon Clifford the Big Red Dog. Snoop Dogg already appeared at Fifth Third Field this season, and he was unfortunately unable to make a return engagement.
Bonus Coverage: Because a rigid adherence to an arbitrary structure is all that stands between us and total chaos, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but weren't:
.38 Special Concert (Omaha Royals, July 23): Southern rock icons did their thing in the Midwest, playing at a Pacific Coast League ballpark.
Tribute to Yuengling (Reading Phillies, July 23): In honor of Pennsylvania's preeminent lager.
Cleveland Sports History Night (Lake County Captains, July 24): The long list of guests included Mike Hargrove, Joe Charboneau, Browns cornerback Brandon McDonald and many, many more.
Skateboard Deck Giveaway (Reno Aces, July 24): Just add wheels.
Salute to the Grape (Mahoning Valley Scrappers, July 26): Raisin awareness for a vine cause.
Japanese Game Show Night (Orem Owlz, July 26): Perhaps no genre of television in the entire world is as consistently insane, save for cable news.
Victoria Justice Appearance (Northwest Arkansas, July 26th): My sources in the "tween" community tell me that this was a very big deal.