Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays this season, we preview the most intriguing for the week ahead. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature in the futurFue, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send him a Tweet -- hashtag "#promopreview."
Attention all Huntsville-area employers: Buck Rogers, general manager of the Huntsville Stars, has a message for you.
"We want to reward one person who really deserves a day off from work and we need your help. You select that one employee who makes your life bearable at work, you know the one: never forgets your birthday, bails you out when you screw up, takes the fall when you're wrong in a staff meeting. Then we do all the work."
Rogers, a loquacious individual no matter the forum, wrote the above request as part of a long mailing list missive detailing the Stars' "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" promotion. It takes place Wednesday before, during and after the Stars' matinee contest against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, as Rogers and his front office brethren do their darnedest to replicate the fictional Ferris' adventures during his now-legendary day off.
The recipient of this unexpected break from Wednesday's usual tedium will be chosen via an essay contest, as the Stars have asked local employers to nominate their most deserving underling. Whoever he or she may be will be ushered out of the workplace by a Stars employee and then tasked with finding two partners in crime (the real life equivalents of the movie's Cameron and Sloane).
This impromptu threesome shall then visit the Huntsville Museum of Art and dine at the renowned Cotton Row restaurant before traveling to Joe Davis Stadium ( ) to throw out an honorary first pitch (a post-game performance of "Twist and Shout" in downtown Huntsville is apparently in the works as well).
Once this whirlwind afternoon comes to a close, "Ferris" will be dropped off back at his or her workplace, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all.
"The bottom line -- somebody and his or her two best buds are going to have a heckuva day skipping work," wrote Rogers. "It might as well be you and your two buds. Just remember, 'Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.'"
Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League) Dawn Hopkins "Joe vs. Pro" Billiards, Aug. 22
Lakewood-area pool hustlers will almost certainly receive their comeuppance on Thursday, as Dawn Hopkins of the Women's Professional Billiard Association will be taking on all comers at a table set up within the BlueClaws' outfield bar area. In addition to playing professionally and serving as an ESPN billiards commentator, Hopkins also runs the Jersey Shore APA League, and perhaps this is the primary reason for her FirstEnergy Park appearance. League representatives will be on hand to recruit new players, starting conversations from scratch and able to answer questions on cue.
Frederick Keys (Carolina League) Tim Kurkjian Bobblehead, Aug. 23
The bobblehead immortalization of ESPN personalities by their hometown Minor League Baseball teams is nothing new, as Buster Olney received the honor in Vermont while Scott Van Pelt's undulating likeness was distributed in Bowie. On Friday, Tim Kurkjian, a native of Bethesda, Md., gets the same treatment courtesy of the Frederick Keys. Kurkjian will be the evening's guest of honor, throwing out the first pitch, signing autographs, and smiling gamely while players guffaw their way through third-rate impersonations. But caution! Just 1,000 Kurkjian bobbleheads are slated to be distributed, and those who miss out will assuredly feel a gaping void within the center of their beings for the remainder of their days on this Earth.
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League) Good Deed Game, Aug. 24
One good deed deserves another, so it's only appropriate that the Trenton Thunder's annual "Good Deed Game" is now in its fourth year. The premise is simple: seven local non-profits are staging supply drives at Saturday's ballgame, and fans receive a reward for each one that they donate to. Those who donate to all seven will exit the ballpark having been awarded a ticket, ceremonial first pitch, on-field fireworks viewing and free parking to Aug. 29's ballgame as well as a free pint glass, food and drink vouchers and a vintage bobblehead doll. This is the very definition of a win-win situation.
Tucson Padres (Pacific Coast League) San Diego Chicken Appearance, Aug. 24
The San Diego Chicken is getting up there in years and opted to spend 2013 in his coop as opposed to his usual routine of traveling to ballparks across the country. But conscientious fowl that he is, the Chicken (one Ted Giannoulas) has decided to visit Tucson one last time. On Saturday, more than 30 years after his first appearance in the city, the Chicken will join forces with Mexican Winter League mascot Beto Coyote in order to put on a costumed character show for the ages. This is the Tucson Padres' last-ever Saturday home game -- the franchise moves to El Paso in 2014 -- and it's sure to be a memorable featherweight battle.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League) Foam Finger Giveaway/Prostate Awareness Night, Aug. 27
Last February, the IronPigs made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as a newspaper ad touting a foam finger giveaway on Prostate Cancer Awareness Night was mocked by the host as a "bad idea." Bad idea or not, this attention-grabbing combination was most certainly intentional, and the IronPigs are doing it again Tuesday. The first 3,500 fans to enter Coca-Cola Park receive foam fingers courtesy of Urology Specialists of the Lehigh Valley, as good a reminder as any that adult male fans should schedule a check-up at their earliest convenience.
Into the Ellipse…
Because there is always more to write about than that which has already been written, here is a brief rundown of other notable promotions taking place this week:
- Aug. 21: Michigan State hoops legends Greg Kelser and Judd Heathcote pay a visit to the Great Lakes Loons, to the delight of most and the consternation of a stray Michigan fan perhaps.
- Aug. 22: The Akron Aeros are supplementing the nightly entertainment with both a 1k Beer Run and a midget wrestling match. Nothing could possibly go wrong. … In Bowie, the Baysox's much anticipated Alfonso Ribiero appearance will be highlighted by a "Carlton Dance" contest atop the dugout. … Otis Wilson, he of 1985 Chicago Bears fame, pays a visit to the Quad Cities River Bandits.
- Aug. 23: Fans run the show during the Fort Wayne TinCaps' "It's All About You Night," which is not to be confused with the celebration of female sheep that is "It's All About Ewe Night." … Perhaps because the Duck Dynasty guys were too expensive, Skipper Bivins of Hillbilly Handfishin' fame visits the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
- Aug. 24: In Billings, the Mustangs distribute bobbleheads of uber-speedster Billy Hamilton. … Join the Orem Owlz for "Hootz and Holly's Family Celebration" (in case you didn't know, Hootz got Holly pregnant and they are now raising an owlet).
- Aug. 25: The Bakersfield Blaze host a Bakersfield Outlaws team reunion at venerable Sam Lynn Stadium. … Horizontal red and white stripes will be all the rage during the Hickory Crawdads' "Where's Waldo? Night." … In Princeton, the Rays pay fans' utility bills and reference incendiary late '80s hip-hop with "Fight the Power Night."
- Aug. 26: The best thing about the Brooklyn Cyclones' "Daniel Murphy Pot O' Gold Bobblehead" is that it in no way perpetuates ethnic stereotypes. … Cole Hamels and Carlos Ruiz are a spice rack battery for the ages, as the Reading Fightin Phils are immortalizing the duo as salt and pepper shakers.
- Aug. 27: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats' Ted Williams bobbleheads are made of ceramic but will nonetheless result in a Splendid Splinter.