Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays this season, we're previewing 10 of the most intriguing for the week ahead. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature in the future, please send it to [email protected] with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send him a Tweet -- hashtag "#promopreview."
The Scranton-based sitcom The Office comes to an end on May 16 after nine seasons and more than 200 episodes, and the hometown RailRiders are doing their part to make sure it goes out in style.
This past Saturday, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders hosted what was dubbed "The Office Wrap Party" at PNC Field, an event attended by more than 10,000 fans of the long-running sitcom. Virtually all of the cast and crew took part in the festivities, including a visit from Steve Carell himself. Carell, who played Dunder-Mifflin branch manager Michael Scott before leaving the show after its seventh season, had not been expected to attend, and by all accounts his sudden appearance sent metaphorical shockwaves through the stadium.
"The Office Wrap Party," memorable as it may have been, took place while the RailRiders were on the road. This Friday, however, the celebrations continue when the team stages its aptly-named "Farewell to The Office" promotion. Team president Rob Crain admits to not being particularly knowledgeable about The Office but is nonetheless excited to preside over a game-long tribute to a show that did much to put Scranton on the cultural map.
"This will be our wrap party. We have a boatload of clips and outtakes that we'll be able to use, and life-size cardboard cut-outs of the characters for photo ops," he said. "But I think maybe the best thing is that, on entrance, every fan gets one share of Dunder-Mifflin stock."
The game's between-innings entertainment will reference the show as well, particularly a series of contests modeled after a third-season episode in which Jim and Pam organize "The Dunder-Mifflin Olympiad." When it comes to the minutiae of such endeavors, Crain is happy to defer to the expertise of his more Office-adept staffers.
"It's been a little tough for me," he said, laughing. "I don't think I've ever seen an episode."
Though the RailRiders lead the MiLB promotional pack this week, there are plenty of other worthwhile endeavors to consider. Endeavors such as the following:
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League) Lost Sock Memorial Day, May 9
For a description of this poignant event, we go live to Baysox promotions manager Chris Rogers: "Everyone loses random socks over their lifetime and if they're anything like me, they rarely throw them away in the futile hope the partner will magically appear. ... Fans that bring in one of these lonely socks get a free "Sox Seat" upgrade to our Box Seat area. We will also have a sock puppet creation center (fabric markers, felt, etc.) on the concourse. If they'll never wear the sock again, why not slap some googly eyes on them and bring, if not joy, at least amusement to children and/or themselves? We'll also recognize special socks through history (Schilling's bloody sock, President Clinton's cat) and have special games between innings."
Bradenton Marauders (Florida State League) Condiment War III, May 9
On most stadium concourses, ketchup and mustard enjoy a symbiotic relationship, working in concert to get the most out of your hot dog. But in Bradenton, this is most assuredly not the case, as the two condiments have a contentious relationship with one another and each year take part in a hotly-contested game-long battle for stadium supremacy. Ketchup "mustard" its strength and emerged victorious in last season's iteration of this promotion, as Mustard could not quite "ketchup." But this year, mustard has vowed revenge -- will redemption come Thursday? If so, ketchup'll relish it.
Bakersfield Blaze (California League) Billy Hamilton Commemorative Base Giveaway, May 11
Last season, Billy Hamilton set an all-time professional baseball record by stealing 155 bases, and the first 104 of these were swiped during his 82-game stint with the Class A Advanced Bakersfield Blaze. The team is celebrating Hamilton's unprecedented base-stealing prowess in appropriate fashion on Saturday, distributing commemorative "Billy and Blaze" bases to the first 500 fans to pass through the turnstiles. Get to the stadium early if you want one, as they're bound to go fast.
Inland Empire 66ers (California League) Spirit Bug Bobblehead, May 11
Before the 66ers were the 66ers, they were known as the San Bernardino Spirit, and when they were known as the Spirit, their mascot was the inimitable "Spirit Bug." The Spirit Bug was from the Mr. Met school of mascots in that its oversized cranium towered atop what was an otherwise normally proportioned body, making it a natural candidate to be honored in bobblehead form. That's just what the 66ers are doing on Saturday, distributing undulating likenesses of this winged creature to those with the wherewithal to arrive early enough to procure one.
Memphis Redbirds (Pacific Coast League) Two Outs, Two Strikes, No Problem, May 11
The St. Louis Cardinals' never-say-die postseason spirit has become the stuff of legend, and the Redbirds are celebrating the unforgettable "two out, two strike" contributions of David Freese, Pete Kozma and Lance Berkman throughout Saturday's ballgame. Freese, who was recently in Memphis on a rehab assignment, will be particularly well represented on the team's massive videoboard. Not only will the Redbirds play an interview in which he talks about his postseason heroics, but they will also give fans the opportunity to plant a smooch on him during the "Kiss Cam" portion of the evening. Prizes will be awarded during all "two out, two strike" situations that may occur during the ballgame, including a baseball autographed by Freese that you can kiss if you so desire.
Into the ellipse…
Because there's never not enough to write about, an exceedingly brief rundown of even more promos taking place this week:
- May 8: David Eckstein grinds out an appearance at the Trenton Thunder game, signing autographs with grit and determination after his number is retired.
- May 9: If the weather cooperates, the Binghamton Mets play the 3,000th game in franchise history. Will it be better than all that has come before? ... The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, film buffs all, pay tribute to the new adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic, The Great Gatsby.
- May 10: I'm not sure what Lizard Lick Towing Company is, but individuals affiliated with the enterprise are appearing at the Carolina Mudcats game. ... Elsewhere in the Southern League, one can find Dale Murphy illuminating the Jacksonville Suns with his presence.
- May 11: Alliterative bobblehead aficionados need to hightail it to Frederick, as the Keys are immortalizing Manny Machado.
- May 12: Because winter lasts for approximately eight months in Wisconsin, the Timber Rattlers are giving away team-logo scarves. ... Because cleanliness is next to godliness, the Reading Fightin Phils are distributing soap dispensers featuring the nothing-if-not-sanitary Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog.