Top 10 upcoming promotions

Teams pulling in fans with real and bobbleheaded celebrities

(Quad Cities River Bandits)

By Benjamin Hill / Special to | June 23, 2009 6:00 AM ET

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 with the subject line: "Promo Preview."

Oklahoma City RedHawks (Pacific Coast League)
Crunk Nativez Performance, June 25

Have you ever been gone to a Minor League Baseball game in order to see a musical act consisting of Native American little people cranking out Christian-leaning dirty south hip hop? No? Well, now's your chance, as the Crunk Nativez will be performing at Bricktown Ballpark on Thursday. Comprised of Lil Mike and Funny Bone, the Crunk Nativez are guaranteed to bring a ton of infectious positive energy to their performance. I know this because I spent about an hour watching videos on their MySpace page (a legitimate use of my time here in the office, right?) "Off Da Wall" is currently my favorite Crunk Nativez song (with "Welcome 2 Oklahoma" a strong runnerup).

Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Northwest League)
Don Larsen Appearance, June 25

It seems like it happened yesterday, but Wednesday marks the 52-year, eight-month, 17-day anniversary of Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Fortunately, the Volcanoes are making sure this milestone doesn't go by unnoticed, as they're welcoming Larsen to aptly named Volcanoes Stadium for an extended meet-and-greet. The immortal postseason hero will sign autographs both before and during the game, with a brief respite provided so he also can throw out the ballgame's first pitch. For those who are wondering why a New York legend is appearing in Oregon: Larsen ended his career with the San Francisco Giants, who are currently the Volcanoes' parent club. See, there's a reason for everything; nothing is random.

Asheville Tourists (South Atlantic League)
Ted E. Tourist Turns 18, June 26
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Appearance, June 27

I am occasionally guilty of being overly analytical, and perhaps that is the case here, but does anyone find the timing of these two promos suspicious? Cuddly bear mascot Ted E. Tourist turns 18 on Friday, and this milestone birthday will be celebrated at the ballpark all evening long. The very next night, two members of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad will be making a promotional appearance at the Tourists game. The presence of these synchronized and scantily clad ladies is perhaps Teddy's real birthday present, a subtle acknowledgement that mascot boy has finally turned into a mascot man.

Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Magically Superstitious Night with Magic Eight-Ball Giveaway, June 27

Earlier this month, the Grizzlies gave away a Shammy Cloth at the ballpark. Saturday brings yet another unprecedented giveaway item as the club will be distributing 2,500 baseball-themed Magic 8 Balls as part of "Magically Superstitious Night." The evening's theme is all-encompassing, with magicians performing on the concourse, famous baseball superstitions celebrated between innings and magic-referencing music played over the PA. And in time-honored Grizzlies fashion, player headshots will be doctored -- the visiting Salt Lake Bees will be made to resemble mystical creatures such as gnomes and fairies, while the Grizzlies will be modeled after famous magicians past and present. Parker the mascot has a spectacular stunt planned as well, but I can't reveal the details because I signed a legally binding confidentiality agreement.

Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League)
Vance Wilson Bobblehead Giveaway, June 27

After missing most of 2007 and all of '08 due to injuries, veteran backstop Vance Wilson returned to the playing field on June 19 as a member of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Now, a mere eight days later, the club is giving away a bobblehead in his honor. While the timing is impeccable, this is a promotion that had, in fact, been planned since shortly after Wilson signed with the Royals organization in the offseason. The 36-year-old lives just minutes away from the Naturals' Arvest Ballpark and is therefore held in great esteem throughout the area. Nonetheless, a new record has been set in the hotly contested category of "shortest amount of time between debut and bobblehead."

Quad City River Bandits (Midwest League)
Hillary Clinton Bobblehead Giveaway, June 27

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has lived in Illinois, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Washington, D.C., and New York, so I'm not really sure why a Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals based out of Iowa is honoring her with a bobblehead doll. Maybe it's a result of her third-place showing in the 2008 Iowa Democratic Caucus? Once again I am forced to come grips with the sobering reality that Minor League promos, like life itself, are a dizzyingly random series of events with no inherent meaning. At any rate, bobble Hillary looks quite dapper in her River Bandits jersey and pantsuit combo outfit. Real-life Hillary should have adopted that look on the campaign trail.

Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
They've Got the Beat, June 29

Beat writers live a life of unheralded tedium, an existence characterized by mediocre press box food, banal athlete quotes and never-ending deadlines. Finally on Monday, these under-appreciated and overworked wordsmiths will get their due. The Curve are staging "We Got the Beat Night" at Blair County Ballpark, where a variety of writers will share their crazy tales regarding life on the beat. If all goes well and the presence of beat writers lures thousands of additional fans to the ballpark, then who knows where this will lead? Beat writer bobbleheads could become a very real possibility.

Tri-Cities ValleyCats (New York-Penn League)
David Paterson Bobblehead Giveaway, June 29

New York governor David Paterson may have an approval rating of just 30 percent, but that unfortunate reality isn't stopping the Tri-Cities ValleyCats from distributing a bobblehead bearing his likeness on Monday. The ValleyCats -- who are located a hop, skip and a jump from the state capitol of Albany -- stick by their embattled politicians through thick and thin. The fickle winds of popular opinion are not nearly so enduring as a bobblehead, and it is important to remember this essential truth.

Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Nancy Night, June 30

The RiverDogs have no particular reason to celebrate those who are named "Nancy." But, more importantly, they have no reason not to. Therefore, come out to the ballpark on Tuesday in order to pay tribute to notable Nancies of the past and present (from Reagan to Drew to Grace to Pelosi to beyond). But the most intriguing aspect of the evening is the fact that the team will be selecting a random "Nancy" from the phone book and then having her throw out the ballgame's first pitch. Coincidentally enough, randomly selecting a Nancy from the phone book is how I ended up with my first date.

Reading Phillies (Eastern League)
Spam Carving Competition with Spatula Giveaway, June 30

Back for another run after a fantastic debut in 2008, Reading's Spam Carving competition provides aspiring canned meat artisans with the chance to show off their skills. For a charitable donation of $5, fans can purchase a can of the well-known Hormel product and then channel their inner Rodin. But even those who aren't interested in the carving of preservative-laden food have an incentive to come to the ballpark, as the first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a team-logo spatula. If that's not a reason to play Weird Al's "Spatula City" on the videoboard, then I don't know what is. Please make this happen, Reading videoboard operator.

Bonus Coverage: Because I assume the public demands it, here are some promos that could have been included in last week's column. They could have been, but of course, they were not.

Dr. Phil Night (Stockton Ports, June 18): In which Splash the mascot sat down for an intimate one-on-one with a Dr. Phil celebrity impersonator. Or something like that.

Southern Rock Night (Jacksonville Suns, June 20): As the home of Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special, Jacksonville is a hotbed of good ol' rock and roll.

Wade Boggs as Celebrity Bartender (Lowell Spinners, June 20): Because High Life should be poured by one who actually lives the high life. It tastes more authentic that way.

Jeff Fisher and Friends Softball Game (Nashville Sounds, June 20): Nothing packs the stands like the chance to watch a football coach play softball.

Steve Garvey Appearance (Oklahoma City RedHawks, June 20): The ladies still love 'em.

Dwight Gooden Appearance (Hudson Valley Renegades, June 22): For one night, Hudson Valley got a taste of the Dwight stuff.

Edgar Martinez Appearance (Yakima Bears, June 23): There's no better way to get the season started than by having Martinez throw out the first pitch. He brings good luck to all the Mariners affiliates he visits.

Benjamin Hill is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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