Promo Preview: Belly up to the game

Moms-to-be, bobbleheads and beer on tap this week in Minors

By Benjamin Hill / | July 6, 2010 6:00 AM ET

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 with the subject line: "Promo Preview."

Lancaster JetHawks (California League)
Brian Golden Bobblehead — July 7
Jim the Beer Man Bobblehead — July 8

Golden bobbleheads are generally tough to come by, given the prohibitive costs of creating giveaway items out of one of the world's most highly coveted precious metals. But the JetHawks' bobblehead giveaway Wednesday is Golden in name only, as it honors venerable Lancaster sportswriter Brian Golden. The team's bobbling celebration of community fixtures continues the next evening as longtime dispenser of mood-altering suds "Jim the Beer Man" will be commemorated in undulating figurine form. Jim's bobblehead will be distributed on a Thirsty Thursday, appropriately enough, meaning that his signature product will cost just $1 per serving through the sixth inning.

Round Rock Express (Pacific Coast League)
"Rojo" Johnson Bobblehead — July 7

Comedian Will Ferrell took the mound for the Round Rock Express on May 6, appearing as wayward reliever "Rojo Johnson." This chaotic cameo immediately entered the upper pantheon of memorable Minor League promotions, and is now being celebrated as such. The Pacific Coast League announced last month that "Rojo" would be included in their annual "Top Prospects" set, and the Express are following this development with an even more momentous item. The Rojo Bobblehead will be distributed on Wednesday to the first 2,500 fans to pass through the gates. Rojo is portrayed in all of his glory, sporting multiple gold necklaces and a mustache that resembles a chocolate-covered caterpillar.

Orem Owlz (Pioneer League)
Octo-Gosselin Night — July 8
Jersey Shore Night — July 12

Orem might be located in a relatively remote part of the country, but residents of the thriving Utah metropolis are definitely up to speed when it comes to the latest mockable pop-culture trends. The club will poke fun at rapidly-reproducing reality TV stars with Thursday's "Octo-Gosselin Night," with any family's eighth child admitted to the ballpark free of charge. Monday's promotion, meanwhile, continues the westward expansion of Jersey Shore theme nights. Fans will compete in "GTL"-related (gym, tan, laundry) games and contests throughout the evening, proving that garish and gaudy lifestyle choices cannot be contained by arbitrary geographical boundaries.

Arkansas Travelers (Texas League)
Pregame Boxing Match: Jose Canseco vs. Gary Hogan — July 9

Friday's contest between the Travelers and visiting Midland RockHounds will seem like a mere afterthought, because the main event is taking place before the game. It's Canseco vs. Hogan, with baseball's first member of the 40-40 club taking on a 60-year-old ex-college coach in a four-round boxing match. This is crazy, to be sure, but perhaps not as crazy as it sounds. Hogan is in great shape for a sexagenarian and once fought notable heavyweight Mike Quarry at the Travs' old home, Dickey-Stephens Park. "I'm coming out of retirement, because 60 is the new 30," Hogan told me last week. "This isn't going to be ... Ali-Foreman, it's going to be two guys with 16-ounce gloves going out there just to see what happens."

Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League)
Patriots Night featuring Steve Grogan/Helicopter Money Drop — July 9

One would be hard-pressed to find a team with more going on this week than the Lowell Spinners. The indefatigable franchise is giving away bobbleheads of madcap meteorologist Al Kaprielian and Jacoby Ellsbury, hosting a Baha Men concert and playing a game at Fenway. But Friday's contest features a unique 1-2 that is particularly worthy of further exploration. Patriots legend Steve Grogan will be the guest of honor, giving fans the chance to catch a pass thrown by an NFL quarterback. This will likely result in a few drops, but nothing like the one taking place after the game. One thousand dollars in small bills will be scattered from a helicopter onto the field, and 20 lucky fans will scramble for it like a QB under pressure.

Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League)
Yo-Yo Champ John Higby — July 9
BairFind Photo Giveaway — July 13

Few performers embody the up-and-down nature of the baseball season better than John Higby, a Yo-Yo champion who is capable of truly jaw-dropping feats of strings-attached skill. The yo-yo master is performing at Williamsport's Bowman Field on Friday, sure to amaze with tricks old ("Walk the Dog") and new (the "Boing-Boing"). The Crosscutters are giving away a team photo four days later, which will feature a photo of missing child Gina DeJesus in addition to the 2010 squad. This giveaway is the brainchild of former Minor Leaguer (and Crosscutter) Dennis Bair, who regularly stages such promotions through his non-profit organization BairFind. DeJesus' mother will be in attendance at the ballgame, and Crosscutters players will be available to autograph the photo prior to the game.

Batavia Muckdogs (New York-Penn League)
Festival of Muck — July 10

The Muckdogs are called the Muckdogs for a reason as the Batavia region is heavily dependent on muck farming. On Saturday, the club will celebrate fertile farmland with their inaugural "Festival of Muck." This will be a truly unprecedented evening, featuring onion giveaways, bobbing for onions, muck-coated Slip 'n Slide, and of course, muck wrestling. Saturday is also the team's first Community Sleepover of the season, allowing muck-covered fans to enjoy a bedtime onion snack before drifting off to sleep on the outfield grass. Life truly doesn't get any better than that.

Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League)
Bellies and Baseball — July 10

The Cyclones started a trend last season with "Bellies and Baseball," an afternoon devoted to women in the latter stages of pregnancy. The promotion has since been staged in locales such as Binghamton, N.Y., and South Bend, Ind., but on Saturday, the Cyclones are out to prove that the original is still the best. Therefore, get ready for pregnant ladies throwing out the first pitch, walking the bases, participating in Lamaze classes, eating gratis at the concourse "craving station" and singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" en masse. It's a very labor-intensive promotion.

Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League)
Mega-Candy Drop — July 11

The River Bandits debuted the "Mega-Candy Drop" last season, and on Sunday, it returns on a scale even more mega-ier than before. Upon the conclusion of that afternoon's ballgame, a helicopter will fly over the playing field in order to deposit hundreds of pounds of confectionary goodness. The youngsters in attendance will be let loose on a candy-collecting spree, creating a memory so spectacular that it may not be topped for the remainder of their lives. And parents needn't worry about any untoward trampling, as the children will be separated by age before being let loose onto the candy-laden field of sweet dreams.

Reading Phillies (Eastern League)
Crazy Hot Dog Vendor Tribute w/ Theme Jerseys and T-Shirt Giveaway — July 11

The most popular member of the Reading Phillies isn't a player, coach, broadcaster, writer or front-office employee. That honor instead goes to the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor, a bespectacled bundle of energy who strides onto the field atop his pet ostrich and fires frankfurters into the crowd. The R-Phils have already given away Crazy Hot Dog Vendor lunchboxes, pillowcases and bobbleheads (to name just a few), but on Sunday, he receives his biggest honor yet. The entire team will take the field in intimidating Crazy Hot Dog Vendor jerseys, which feature vertical red and white stripes as well as his signature red bowtie. Fans will receive similarly styled souvenir t-shirts but are nonetheless advised to leave their ostriches at home.

Bonus Coverage: Because contractural obligations demand it, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but weren't:

Tribute to Dan Aykroyd (Augusta GreenJackets, July 1): Featuring Blues Brothers impersonators as well as a between-innings marshmallow toss in honor of Aykroyd's role in vanquishing the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.

Nonagenarian Umpiring (Indianapolis Indians, July 2): Ninety-year-old Richard Leitch fulfilled a lifelong dream by calling balls and strikes during the pregame warmup.

Happy Half New Year (Tri-City ValleyCats, July 2): Because we are now closer to the start of 2011 than we are to the start of 2010.

Skipper Bobblehead Giveaway (Lake County Captains, July 3): In honor of Cleveland's prominent role in rock history, this item featured the Captains' mascot strumming a guitar. It bobbled in the middle for maximum hip-shaking, fast-strumming action.

Appearance by Al Milar, the Human Knot (Lowell Spinners, July 3): Australian Milar is capable of juggling knives while squeezing his entire body through a stringless tennis racket. Your move, Rubberboy.

Citizen Naturalization Ceremony, Flag Giveaway and Fireworks (Iowa Cubs, July 5): The only thing this was missing was a contingent of bald eagles eating apple pie in the bleachers.

Secret Societies and Conspiracy Theories Night (Quad Cities River Bandits, July 6): There are a lot of crazy rumors going around regarding what went on, none of which can be confirmed.

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.

View More