Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays throughout the season, we'll 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
Wizards Night, July 14
Tattoo Sleeve Giveaway, July 16
The eighth (and, mercifully, final) installment of the Harry Potter film franchise opens Friday, and teams all over the country are in the midst of celebrating this cinematic milestone. But the Myrtle Beach Pelicans deserve special mention, as on "Wizards Night" the club will take the field in natty Potter-themed jerseys modeled after the Hogwarts school uniform. Young fans are encouraged to go to the game dressed as their favorite characters from the franchise, and the first 500 receive their very own spell-casting Wizard Wand. It will also be Thirsty Thursday at the ballpark -- perhaps imbibing fans will get into the spirit of the evening by making their sobriety disappear.
Portland Sea Dogs (Eastern League)
Knocking on Heaven's Door Book Signing and Reading, July 14
Marty Dobrow's Knocking on Heaven's Door is one of the best Minor League Baseball books in recent memory, a sprawling narrative that chronicles the ups and downs of six prospects as they scratch and claw their way toward the Majors. Two of those six prospects -- Charlie Zink and Manny Delcarmen -- played for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, a connection that has led to Thursday's book reading and signing. Fans can bring their own book or buy one at the ballpark, and by arriving early for the event, they'll put themselves in prime position to receive the evening's giveaway as well: a Clay Buchholz bobblehead. Buchholz played for Portland in 2007 and '08 en route to knocking on heaven's door and receiving enthusiastic admittance.
Reno Aces (Pacific Coast League)
Johnny Cash Weekend, July 14-16
Johnny Cash once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, but that act of cold-blooded murder isn't stopping the hometown Aces from paying tribute to him at the ballpark. The team will wear "Man in Black" theme jerseys throughout the weekend, with fans on Thursday receiving Johnny Cash T-shirts. Johnny's son and daughter-in-law will be in attendance on Saturday, with John Carter Cash throwing out the first pitch and wife Laura singing the National Anthem. Johnny Cash food and beverage specials will be available as well, featuring his favorite foods (fried chicken, chili, pecan pie) and drinks (Jack Daniels). And, of course, Johnny's music will be heard over the PA all weekend long. Can I put in a request for "Joe Bean"?
Visalia Rawhide (California League)
Salute to the Blue Collar Worker, July 14
Johnny Cash may very well also be heard at Visalia's Recreation Park on Thursday, as the Rawhide are staging a "Salute to the Blue Collar Worker." As part of this tribute to the proletariat, the club is awarding "the white-collar experience" to a blue-collar fan, with this salt-of-the-Earth individual throwing out the first pitch before retiring to the Hall of Fame Club seating area to watch the game in restricted-access luxury. The prize package also includes free beer and a gift certificate for a one-hour massage, two great things that are even better when enjoyed in tandem with one another.
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Midwest League)
BAAACK to the Future Night, July 15 (team hosting game between Tucson Padres and Las Vegas 51s)
The TinCaps are on the road this week, but Fort Wayne's Parkview Field will nonetheless be a bustling hive of professional baseball activity. As part of a unique arrangement, the TinCaps will be hosting a four-game Triple-A set between fellow San Diego affiliate the Tucson Padres and the (also) visiting Las Vegas 51s. Eleven former TinCaps are on the Tucson roster, and the presence of these team alumni has inspired Friday's "BAAACK to the Future Night." Details are still being finalized, but look for Jonny the mascot dressed as Marty McFly, Huey Lewis on the PA and liberal use of the phrase "1.21 Gigawatts."
Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League)
C.L. Werner Bobblehead Giveaway/Jack Ingram and Heidi Newfield Concert, July 15
"Come for the bobblehead depicting a stadium namesake, stay for a post-game concert featuring contemporary country stars" is an admittedly unwieldy advertising slogan, but how else to explain what's going on in Omaha on Friday? The first 2,000 fans in attendance receive a bobblehead featuring Werner Enterprises founder C.L. Werner, whose 1956 business venture has since grown into a veritable logistics empire. After the ballgame, these undulating figurines will sway in time to the crowd-pleasing country of Heidi Newfield (formerly of Trick Pony) and headliner Jack Ingram. And as if that wasn't enough, there'll be fireworks in there as well. Oh, yeah, and a baseball game.
Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League)
Mickey Morandini Bobblehead, July 16
I try not to let my inherent childhood biases come into play when writing this column, but sometimes I cannot resist the urge. Such is the case with the Crosscutters' on Saturday, as the club is giving away bobbleheads of new manager Mickey Morandini. In his playing days, Morandini was a scrappy, overachieving second baseman who served as an inspiration to wanna-be overachieving second basemen such as myself. He made his greatest mark with the Phillies (1990-97, 2000), his name forever ingrained in the minds of Philadelphians thanks to announcer Harry Kalas' mellifluous pronunciation. (Mick-ee Mor-an-dee-neeeee!)
Stockton Ports (California League)
Dallas Braden Bobblebelly, July 17
Shortly after Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game on Mother's Day 2010, he returned to his hometown of Stockton in order to be feted in a pre-game ceremony at the Ports' Banner Island Ballpark. The highlight of this celebration occurred when Braden, beaming with pride, pulled up his shirt to reveal a tattoo of Stockton's area code (209) emblazoned on his stomach. This already immortal moment is now being further immortalized with Sunday's "Dallas Braden bobblebelly" giveaway, featuring the smiling, chest-baring hurler offering a thumbs-up and beaming smile for all eternity.
Iowa Cubs (Pacific Coast League)
Bob Feller Bobblehead, July 19
Bob Feller never played in the Minors, as the legendary fireballer debuted with Cleveland in 1936 at the age of 17. But he did grow up right outside of Des Moines, Iowa, in the town of Van Meter, and that's ample reason for the Iowa Cubs to consistently pay tribute. Tuesday's bobblehead giveaway features the "Heater from Van Meter" in his "Van Meter" school uniform, his left leg high in the air and his right arm poised to deliver yet another blazing strike. Or at least we can assume it's a strike -- since when do bobbleheads suffer from a lack of control?
Memphis Redbirds (Pacific Coast League)
Idea Night, July 19
Any Minor League team worth its peanuts and Cracker Jack knows that fan input is crucial to long-term success. That's why the Memphis Redbirds are staging "Idea Night" on Tuesday, with ushers distributing pencils and paper so that fans may write down any ideas for how to improve the gameday experience in 2012. As a reward for such intense brainstorming, fans will be handed a complimentary light bulb upon exiting the stadium. Watt a good idea.
Bonus Coverage: Because I'd like to assume that the public demands it, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column -- could have been but, of course, weren't:
Evan Longoria Build-A-Bear (Hudson Valley Renegades, July 6): In which baseball fans in New York were given the opportunity to construct an animal version of a Tampa Bay star. It's about time.
Humphrey Potter Mascot Bobblehead (Boise Hawks, July 7): Because even avian mascots are fans of the world's most well-known boy wizard.
Tighty-Whitey Giveaway (Altoona Curve, July 7): Because you're not a true baseball fan unless your undergarments are branded with the logo of a railroad-themed Double-A franchise.
Jason Werth Bobblehead (Frederick Keys, July 8): Before he became the Nationals' $126 million man, Werth was just a Frederick Keys outfielder with huge sideburns and a dream.
Pre-Game Mass (Lake County Captains, July 10): I'd still love to see a confession booth set up inside the visitor's dugout.
Grandma's Got Talent Night (Lancaster JetHawks, July 10): Because grandmas, like fine wines and knuckleballers, only get better with age.
Salute to the Portland Beavers (Salem-Keizer Volcanoes): A tribute to the now-defunct Pacific Coast League franchise, featuring former players, managers and executives.