Promo Preview: Traveling in style

From Zeppelin to sporty used cars, transportation is in vogue

Emissions at the Missions game are better than one might have suspected. (San Antonio Missions)

By Benjamin Hill / | June 15, 2010 6:00 AM

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."

Hickory Crawdads (South Atlantic League)
Kevin Costner Night — June 16

From Bull Durham to Field of Dreams to that one with the awkward title that wasn't as good, few actors have devoted themselves to national pastime-related celluloid as consistently as Kevin Costner. On Wednesday, the Crawdads are honoring this legendary thespian with the appropriately albeit uncreatively titled "Kevin Costner Night." It won't "Costner" a cent to get into the ballpark if your name is Kevin, and all between-inning games and contests will be themed around Costner and his films. (For example, the nightly "Bash for Cash" will be turned into a "Bash for Crash" in recognition of Crash Davis, his character in Bull Durham.) My suggestion is that the team stages a Swing Vote contest in which fans choose their favorite hitting strokes. Sorry, that was the best I could do.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
Locks of Love Night w/ Lion Webkinz Giveaway — June 16

No team has committed itself to virtually sentient animal beings as thoroughly as the Pelicans, who are giving away Webkinz during each and every Wednesday home game this season. This week the animal on offer is the lion, who shall be distributed to the first 500 fans age 12 or under. Meanwhile, the evening also will serve as "Locks of Love Night." The luxurious manes of long-haired fans will be snipped off and donated to the eponymous charity, who fashion the hair into wigs for children experiencing hair loss as a result of a medical condition or treatment such as chemotherapy. Fans not possessing the requisite follicle length can get in the act by donating money to the organization in exchange for a professionally rendered haircut.

Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Obscure Sports Night — June 17

With the World Cup now in full swing, it seems that just about every evening is an "Obscure Sports Night," but the Storm are taking this concept far beyond the baffling sport of "soccer." On Thursday, fans will compete against one another in endeavors such as fish-tossing, keg-tossing, wife-carrying and "Rock, Paper, Scissors" tournaments atop the dugout roof. Such a large amount of off-kilter athletic activity will produce a disorienting effect on the viewer, akin to spending 90 minutes watching a sporting event in which no one scores.

West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest League)
Led Zeppelin Night — June 17

Led Zeppelin reached the pinnacle of the rock 'n' roll profession, yet the honor of a Minor League theme jersey had always eluded them. This nagging historical oversight will be remedied in West Michigan on Thursday, as the Whitecaps players take the field in uniform tops which feature the team's name in signature Led Zeppelin script. Directly below this eye-catching lettering is a drawing of a literal zeppelin, overlaid atop a silhouette of lead singer Robert Plant. Classic Zeppelin cuts shall be blaring over the PA throughout the evening, and tribute band Oracle will play a postgame concert. In order to keep up with the (John Paul) Joneses, there's no doubt that other teams will rip this (Jimmy) Page out of the Whitecaps' playbook.

Charlotte Stone Crabs (Florida State League)
World Cup Night — June 18

Upon entering Charlotte Sports Park on Saturday evening, fans will be greeted by the unmistakable drone of the vuvuzela. The presence of this noise-making plastic trumpet is just one aspect of the Stone Crabs' World Cup celebration, a comprehensive salute to a sport that is popular almost everywhere but here. All between-inning games and contests will be soccer-themed, with different sections of the stadium representing different countries. Stone Crabs home runs shall be recognized with enthusiastic shouts of "Gooooooaaaaaaaal," and mascot Stoney will be taking on all comers in a concourse penalty kick competition. The fun of these festivities will remind fans that soccer is a sport that can be enjoyed on a regular basis, a lesson that will then be forgotten until 2014 rolls around.

Modesto Nuts (California League)
Graffiti Night — June 18

Modesto residents are anything but modest when it comes to the fact that George Lucas was born there. Before the Star Wars franchise made him a legend, Lucas directed a very well-regarded film that was set in Modesto: American Graffiti. The Nuts celebrate the film each and every season, and this year the festivities include root beer floats at the concession stands, a cavalcade of classic cars on the concourse, themed player headshots, eye-catching poodle skirts and plenty of hip-shaking classic rock and roll. It'll be an evening to remember for all the nostalgic baby boomers in attendance, made all the sweeter by the senior citizen discount they'll be eligible for at the box office.

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
Alligator Wrestling — June 18

Minor League general managers have to possess a diverse set of skills, up to and including grappling with cold-blooded reptilian killers. That's the task Flying Squirrels GM Bill Paperniak has been assigned Friday, as he will help wrestle a wily alligator into submission as part of a pregame exhibition. In addition to the 7 1/2-foot monster, the evening will also include giant snakes and lizards on the concourse as well as a somewhat more manageable 3-foot alligator specimen. If all goes according to plan, the team won't have to place want ads for a new GM on Saturday morning.

San Antonio Missions (Texas League)
Used Car Night — June 18

"Clunker Car" giveaways are a Minor League promotional staple, but there is nothing remotely "clunky" about the automobiles the Missions give away each year as part of their highly anticipated "Used Car Night." The evening is sponsored by a local credit union, which gets car dealers to donate to the event in exchange for discounted interest rates. This innovative arrangement results in some high-quality giveaways; among the 11 automobiles set to be awarded include a 2002 Volvo s60, a 2001 GMC Jimmy and a 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis. No BMWs will be given away this time around, but the Missions currently boast a shortstop named Beamer Weems, so that should be good enough.

Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League)
Million Dollar Man Appearance — June 19

Over the past several seasons, a half-dozen retired professional wrestlers have consistently shown up on Minor League promo schedules: King Kong Bundy, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Mick "Mankind" Foley, Jerry "The King" Lawler, Sergeant Slaughter and George "The Animal" Steele. The BlueClaws have hosted all six, but apparently their appetite for grappling thespians cannot be quenched. On Saturday, they'll host "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase for a sure-to-be-memorable autograph session. Fans will be queuing up early for the chance to meet this legend of the ring, a ruthless pragmatist who once tried to buy a WWF title belt from Hulk Hogan. For the BlueClaws' sake, I hope his nickname is not indicative of his appearance fee.

Binghamton Mets (Eastern League)
Boy Band Night — June 22

Saccharine purveyors of non-threatening musical masculinity will be highlighted in Binghamton on Tuesday as the B-Mets are staging "Boy Band Night." Player head shots will feature members of prominent boy bands past and present, and in-game contests include "Finish the Lyrics" and trivia contests that pose challenging queries such as "How many players in Major League history have had the last name of 'Timberlake?'" The day's player profile piece on the videoboard will feature answers to the question "What is your guilty music pleasure?" I'll admit right now that, when I was 10 years old, I secretly listened to "Hangin' Tough" by New Kids on the Block. These days I don't even keep it a secret.

Bonus Coverage: Because 1,264 words aren't enough, here are seven promotions that could have been featured in last week's column -- could have been but weren't:

Redundancy Night (Altoona Curve, June 9): I actually did feature this one last week and am listing it again in order to be, you know...

Trucker Cap Giveaway (Arkansas Travelers, June 11): An especially appropriate giveaway when your team is called the Travelers. It's OK to "mesh" around when wearing one of these.

Goonies Never Say Die Night (Portland Beavers, June 11): The 25th anniversary of this Oregonian youth adventure masterpiece was celebrated with a postgame screening.

Budweiser Clydesdales (Omaha Royals, June 13): If a team of resplendent horses doesn't get you in the mood for a ballpark brew then nothing will.

Mascot Band Collectible Baseball (Reading Phillies, June 14): Who wouldn't want a spheroid featuring depictions of instrument-wielding costumed characters?

Phil Niekro Night (Mississippi Braves, June 14): Bobby Murcer once said that hitting against Niekro was like "eating Jello with chopsticks." It was considerably easier to get his autograph in Mississippi on Monday.

Flag Day w/ Naturalization Ceremony (Toledo Mud Hens, June 15): Could there be any better venue in which to become an American citizen?

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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