Promo Watch: Furry matrimony in Fresno

Grizzlies' Parker T. Bear becomes first mascot to officiate wedding

By Benjamin Hill / MiLB.com | May 30, 2016 10:00 AM

To paraphrase a well-known car insurance commercial, "Getting ordained as a minister is so easy, a mascot could do it."

Could do it, and did do it, as of this past Thursday evening. The Fresno Grizzlies, forever pushing the boundaries of what a Minor League Baseball team can do, invited fans to be married at the ballpark by Parker T. Bear. Parker had recently been ordained online by the Universal Life Church, whose motto is "We are all children of the same universe." Clearly, that universe includes anthropomorphic, perpetually smiling, bipedal bears.

Parker's foray into the world of wedding officiating was motivated by the Grizzlies' "My Big Fat Fresno Wedding Show," featuring an array of local bridal companies showcasing their products. Meanwhile, on the outfield concourse, the team set up a nuptials staging area. The Grizzlies report that three couples took the plunge, while three more renewed their vows. A segment of fans, finding the ritualized bonding of two souls in eternal love to be more interesting than a Triple-A baseball game, viewed the ceremonies while enjoying $2 cans of Tecate beer.

Parker was assisted in his endeavors by a "ring bear" (as in, a young fan dressed in a bear suit) as well as "experienced wedding officiant" Raquel Tirado. Being able to speak, Tirado served as a complement to Parker and his "wedding vows of silence" approach. He got the point across, when necessary, by displaying placards bearing messages relevant to that particular moment in the ceremony.

Speaking of silence, I was unable to procure a quote from the team regarding Thursday's events at Chukchansi Park. But as Grizzlies marketing director Sam Hansen had previously told the Fresno Bee, "People get married without a big wedding all the time. We're just providing the most colorful backdrop for it."

Mullet Over

As you'll certainly recall, last week's "Promo Watch" included a mention of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and their plan to suit up as the "Pensacola Mullets" on "What If Night."

"What If Night" occurred Thursday -- the same day in which a mascot was performing wedding ceremonies in Fresno -- and the "Mullets" lost to the Birmingham Barons by a score of 6-4. After the game, Pensacola manager Pat Kelly hopefully (and erroneously) stated, "I don't think it counts against our record." It did, but nonetheless the evening provided plenty of memories related to mullets of both the fish and hairstyle variety. A mullet-tossing contest took place at the ballgame -- winner Eddie Rodriguez won after throwing one 145 feet -- and during the game, fashion-forward fans received mullet haircuts on the concourse.

If the Blue Wahoos stage this promotion again, maybe they can combine the fish and the fashion statement into one universally apropos giveaway item: a hairnet.

Coming Soon

Wednesday: The Birmingham Barons play their annual Rickwood Classic, in which they return to their old home of Rickwood Field for an afternoon of baseball how it once was. The Barons played in Rickwood from 1910 through 1986. This season's ballgame celebrates the 1967 Birmingham A's, and Rollie Fingers will be the guest of honor.

Thursday: Richard Karn, better known to early-'90s sitcom fans as Al Borland, visits the Harrisburg Senators on "Home Improvement Night." … The Asheville Tourists celebrate their region's prolific small brewery scene by taking the field as the Beer City Tourists.

Friday: The Arkansas Travelers, recognizing that lemons travel by sea as well as by land, are giving away questionably seaworthy vessels on "Clunker Boat Night." … The Scranton-Wilkes/Barre RailRiders' Greg Bird bobblehead figures to be all they're cracked up to be.

As part of their "Geekend" festivities, the Toledo Mud Hens take the field in these "Save the Princess" jerseys.

Saturday: On "Star Wars Night," the Reading Fightin Phils are doing it all for the Wookiee.

Sunday: As a means to properly commemorate "Family Fitness Night," Frederick Keys' broadcasters Doug Raftery and Geoff Arnold will call the entire game on exercise bikes. 

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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