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Spring-loaded: The best Minors bobbleheads of '23

From RUSH to the Ryan Express, nod along with these giveaways
January 6, 2024

It doesn't matter that we're currently in the depths of winter. When it comes to bobbleheads, it's always spring time. Sunday, Jan. 7, is National Bobblehead Day, and what better occasion could there be for a look back at the best Minor League Baseball bobblehead giveaways of the 2023 season?

It doesn't matter that we're currently in the depths of winter. When it comes to bobbleheads, it's always spring time.

Sunday, Jan. 7, is National Bobblehead Day, and what better occasion could there be for a look back at the best Minor League Baseball bobblehead giveaways of the 2023 season?

Affix your countenance with a permanent grin and nod along with these 10 spring-loaded standard bearers.

Amarillo Sod Poodles (Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks)
Corbin Barrels
Corbin Carroll, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, barrels the ball. He did so throughout the 58 games he spent with Double-A Amarillo in 2022, inspiring the Sod Poodles to give away a bobblehead featuring Corbin standing within a literal barrel. Perhaps this is part of his offseason training regimen.

Brooklyn Cyclones (High-A affiliate of the New York Mets)
George Costanza, Marine Biologist
The Cyclones' long-running "Seinfeld" promotion has become the biggest day on the team's calendar -- this year's iteration attracted a nothing-loving crowd of 8,112 (the team's largest since 2015). The most fanatical of these fans showed up extra early in order to procure a bobblehead featuring George Costanza as a whale-saving "marine biologist." George is holding a golf ball in his right hand, having successfully extricated it from the whale's blowhole.

Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays)
Superfan Mark Aichinger
Mark Aichinger, a 59-year-old with physical and mental disabilities, is a beloved Bisons superfan best known for yelling, “Hey, you stink!” at opposing players. The Bisons gave away a bobblehead in his honor on Sept. 2, which was preceded and followed by a viral online marketing campaign. Highlights included a video of Bisons GM Anthony Sprague telling Mark about the bobblehead, and another one that recapped Mark’s special night in full.

Hartford Yard Goats (Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies)
Bouncing Pickle
When is a pickle not a pickle? When it doesn't bounce. This reasoning formed the basis for an archaic Connecticut state law, which in turn inspired the Yard Goats' Bouncing Pickles alternate identity. The team made their Bouncing Pickles debut in May, and followed up with a bobblehead giveaway three months later. If there's any anthropomorphic food that deserves to be immortalized in bobblehead form, it's a Bouncing Pickle.

Lansing Lugnuts (High-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics)
Cooper Rush
This one requires a bit of backstory: On June 17, the Lugnuts staged a theme night in honor of RUSH, the rock band. They then decided to double the evening's Rush (RUSH?) factor by giving away bobbleheads featuring Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush. Rush (the football player) is a proud alumnus of Lansing Catholic High School. It is unknown whether he's also a fan of Canadian prog rock.

Round Rock Express (Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers)
Nolan Ryan (x4)
Nolan Ryan has been part of the Express' ownership group since the franchise's inception in 2000. In fact, the team's moniker is a nod to the flamethrower's "Ryan Express" nickname. The Express have given away a wide variety of Nolan Ryan bobbleheads over the years, and this season they took it to another level by giving away four over the course of the season. Taken together, this bobblehead quartet provides a chronological representation of each MLB team that Ryan played for over the course of his 27-season career.

Somerset Patriots (Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees)
Anthony Volpe
Anthony Volpe spent the majority of his 2022 campaign with the Somerset Patriots, and Yankee fans flocked to the team's Central Jersey environs in order to see him. When the Patriots gave away Volpe bobbleheads this season, they added a special twist: Chicken parm sandwiches were available at the concession stands, in honor of the chicken parm sandwich that was widely attributed to helping him break out of a slump.

Springfield Cardinals (Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals)
Lars Nootbaar Pepper Grinder
Lars Nootbaar, a member of the Springfield Cardinals in 2019, gained notoriety for his dugout-rousing pepper grinder celebration (because, you know, baseball is a grind). It caught on to the point that Shohei Ohtani, Nootbaar's World Baseball Classic teammate, imitated the move after hitting a home run. That same month, the Springfield Cardinals announced their "Grind the Pepper" Nootbaar bobblehead. He's depicted holding an actual pepper grinder, something he generally doesn't have access to while on the basepaths.

Sugar Land Space Cowboys (Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros)
Pedro León Home Run Helmet
Sugar Land's team changed its name from the Skeeters to the Space Cowboys prior to the 2022 season, and with the name change came a new dugout home run celebration featuring an intimidating black astronaut helmet. Outfielder Pedro León hit more than his share of moonshots, and was thus honored with a bobblehead featuring him wearing the incongruous combination of space helmet and cowboy hat.

Tulsa Drillers (Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers)
Oily the Oiler
Before Tulsa had a team named the Drillers, the city hosted a squad with an equally crude moniker: The Oilers. From the early '50s through the mid-'70s, the Oilers had a mascot named Oily the Oiler, who had an oil derrick-shaped nose protruding from his baseball-shaped head. The Drillers resurrected Oily in 2023, featuring him in on-field hats, patches and, yes, immortalizing him in bobblehead form.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.