Minor League teams are known for their game-day 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Gwinnett Braves (International League)
Health and Fitness Night, April 28
Tribute to Button Gwinnett, April 30
Jason Heyward Bobblehead, May 1
Quatro de Mayo, May 4
Let's hear it for the action-packed homestand, in which the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. The G-Braves will be staging "Health and Fitness Night" on Wednesday, featuring "flex contests," healthy food, and staff members sporting their "finest fitness apparel." Friday's "Tribute to Button Gwinnett" will honor the man for whom "Gwinnett County" is named, a distinguished statesmen best known as the second signer of the Declaration of Independence. This is followed by a Jason Heyward bobblehead giveaway, a sure-to-be coveted item given the honoree's remarkable rise to big league stardom. Finally, the team will close out the homestand with "Quatro De Mayo," an early celebration of the easiest-to-remember holiday on the Mexican calendar.
Lancaster JetHawks (California League)
Koby Clemens Bobblehead, April 28
KaBoom Bobblehead, May 1
Two bobblehead giveaways over a two-day span? For most clubs, that would be the essence of overkill. But it's just par for the course in Lancaster, as the JetHawks are celebrating their 15th season by giving away a whopping 15 bobbleheads over the course of the 2010 campaign. This week's slate includes Koby "Son of Rocket" Clemens, a young backstop (now with Double-A Corpus Christi) who enjoyed a breakout season with the team in 2009. This is followed three days later by an undulating likeness of the inimitable KaBoom, perhaps the friendliest predatory bird in the entire world. This good-natured hawk has overcome his innate biological instinct to hunt and kill woodland prey, instead devoting his time to dugout dance-offs and general grandstand revelry.
Peoria Chiefs (Midwest League)
Snoop Shizzle Night, April 28
Rapper Snoop Dogg is a true jack of all trades, a dexterous wordsmith whose resume includes everything from youth football coach to ill-advised remixer of Johnny Cash. His sheer cultural ubiquity makes him the ideal subject of a Minor League promotion, so kudos to the Chiefs for staging "Snoop Shizzle Night" as part of their first "Weiner Wednesday" of the season (free "Snoop Doggy Hot Doggs!") Snoop's music and videos will be featured throughout the evening, as well as hip hop-themed mascot skits and "Urban Dictionary" trivia contests (i.e. "Define "hapizzle birthizzle.") Rumor has it that fans will also be treated to audio from Snoop's personalized GPS system, in which the rapper exhorts drivers to "bear left, yeah, just like that."
San Jose Giants (California League)
Homecoming Night, April 28
The San Jose Giants are located in close proximity to their parent club in San Francisco, a fortuitous geographic reality that greatly facilitates promotions such as Wednesday's "Homecoming Night." A bevy of former San Jose players who rose to "The Show" will return to their old stomping grounds like conquering heroes, ready to participate in pregame parades, first pitch ceremonies, and between-inning promotional activities. Scheduled guests include Pablo Sandoval, Matt Downs, Waldis Joaquin, Guillermo Rodriguez, Sergio Romo and Dun Runzler, with the possibility of other big leaguers stopping by as well. It is an off-night in San Francisco, after all, and players can get antsy when not spending their evenings at a professional ballpark.
Arkansas Travelers (Texas League)
Baha Men Concert, April 29
"Bark in the Park" nights, in which dogs are admitted to the ballpark, have become standard around Minor League Baseball. But the Travelers will take the promo to new heights Thursday, as the evening's postgame entertainment is the one and only Baha Men. These longtime practitioners of the Junkanoo reggae sound achieved worldwide fame for their 2000 hit "Who Let the Dogs Out?," but die-hard fans shouldn't be shy about shouting out requests for their favorite deep cuts. My personal favorite is "Exuma's Reincarnation," the leadoff track of 1998's underrated "Doong Spank" LP.
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Scouts Hall of Fame Night, April 30
Scouts are a perpetually overlooked breed of baseball lifers, nomads who toil anonymously in constant pursuit of future Major League talent. The Goldklang Group (operators of the Charleston RiverDogs, Fort Myers Miracle, Hudson Valley Renegades and independent St. Paul Saints) established the Pro Scouts Hall of Fame in 2008 in order to give these individuals their due. This year's honoree is Jax Robertson, who will be recognized prior to Friday's game at Charleston's Joseph P. Riley Ballpark. A former Minor League catcher, Robertson went on to scout for the Yankees, Tigers and Marlins. He now works for the Pirates as special assistant to the general manager, save for the rare occasion when he's being recognized in on-field ceremonies at Minor League stadiums in South Carolina.
South Bend Silver Hawks (Midwest League)
Arbor Day Tree Sapling Giveaway, April 30
Many teams staged promotions and sent out press releases in honor of "Earth Day" last week, inadvertently giving short shrift to the equally ecologically minded "Arbor Day." The Silver Hawks have made a habit of celebrating this tree-centric holiday, however, and this Friday, the club will be giving away saplings to fans wishing to do their part to ensure a green America well into the 21st century. In a breach of traditional ballpark orthodoxy, the saplings will be given to the first 3,000 fans to exit the ballpark. It is everyone's hope that this policy does not result in a hastily departing sapling-crazed mob.
Lake County Captains (Midwest League)
Team Comic Book Giveaway, May 1
"Free Comic Book Day," an annual event held on the first Saturday in May, is just what its name implies -- a day-long opportunity to score free comic books at stores across the country. The Captains are adding an entirely new component to the promotion this season, as they have teamed with local writer and artist Thom Zahler to create a team-specific comic book. Zahler, best known for his superhero situation comedy "Love and Capes," has created an eight-page adventure featuring a wide variety of Captains characters (including the team's mascots as well as a triumvirate of alliteratively named fish.) The book will be distributed to the first 1,000 fans ages 12 and under, leaving obsessive adult collectors to loiter disappointedly on the concourse.
Oklahoma City RedHawks (Pacific Coast League)
Peter Mayhew Appearance, May 1
Saturday is "Star Wars Night" at the RedHawks' Bricktown Ballpark, and the club has lined up a remarkable guest to help celebrate the event: Peter Mayhew. The 7-foot-3 thespian is best known as Chewbacca, the loyal Wookie who was a popular mainstay of the storied sci-fi franchise. Mayhew will sign autographs and pose for pictures on the concourse, fulfilling the dreams of Oklahoma-based "Star Wars" fans who had always wanted to meet the most famous native of the tree-filled planet Kashyyyk.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League)
Manchester South Little League Night, May 3
The Manchester South Little League program suffered a setback earlier this month, when the dugouts at local Precourt Park were destroyed by vandals. The Fisher Cats quickly countered this idiotic display of destruction with "Manchester South Little League Night." All players in the league receive free admission and get to participate in a pregame parade, and those who are paying for tickets can raise money to replace the destroyed dugouts by buying online. Four dollars from every ticket sold will go to Manchester South Little League, proving once again that the thoughtless acts of idle ne'er-do-wells will always be defeated by the forces of Minor League good.
Bonus Coverage: Because I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together, here are seven promotions that could have been included in last week's column, but weren't:
"Glee" Night (Wilmington Blue Rocks, April 21): In the pantheon of Fox network-related promos, this one was certainly better than "When Animals Attack Night."
Joba Chamberlain Bobblehead (Trenton Thunder, April 23): Eighth-inning specialists rarely receive such an honor.
Fan Batting Practice (Iowa Cubs, April 24): Because fans can do anything a player can do, only with much less skill and no hope of ever getting paid for it.
Randy Ruiz Bobblehead (Las Vegas 51s, April 24): Randy was phenomenal for the 51s last season, hitting 25 homers and driving in 106 runs over just 114 games. Bobblehead immortality is now his.
Evan Longoria Bobblehead (Montgomery Biscuits, April 24): Because Longoria was a Biscuit before he was a Ray.
George Brett Powder Blue Jerseys (Omaha Royals, April 24): These wonderful items evoked the understated aesthetic sensibilities of the 1970s.
Seasoned Senior Night (Charleston RiverDogs, April 25): An evening of geriatric delight.