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 future, please send it to [email protected] with the subject line: "Promo Preview" or send a Tweet to @bensbiz, hashtag "#promopreview."
If you've made your way out to a Minor League game this summer, chances are good you've seen at least one outlandish theme jersey. Examples have proliferated throughout the season -- Ghostbusters and Fresh Prince of Bel Air come to mind -- but this week, it all comes to a head. Literally, in some cases.
Let's start with the Brooklyn Cyclones, who are celebrating "Star Wars Night" on Saturday. The team will be known as the "Sithclones" on this evening, wearing terrifyingly garish Darth Maul jerseys with "Brooklyn" spelled across the chest in Aurebesh (the high galactic alphabet).
Meanwhile, in a timezone far, far away, the Fresno Grizzlies will be suiting up in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle jerseys (the new TMNT movie opens just a few days later on Aug. 8). The team originally released four versions uniform -- one representing each turtle -- but after a fan vote, it has been determined that the players will take the field in an orange-tinged Michelangelo jersey (fitting, because orange is part of the Grizzlies' normal color scheme). Even if the Grizzlies win that evening's ballgame, they're still getting shelled.
The next evening is when it all goes to the dogs, as the El Paso Chihuahuas are wearing "Bark in the Park Night" jerseys that feature a giant, larger-than-life Chihuahua face. According to the team, these jerseys are "embodying the spirit of the brand." Maybe so, but this probably makes the Chihuahuas the first brand to be embodied by the disembodied cranium of a small dog possessing a plaintive, piercing stare. Make of that what you will.
Finally, we have the West Michigan Whitecaps, who have just embarked on their so-called "Homestand of Jerseys." Tuesday they will be wearing purple jerseys in support of cancer awareness, and this will be followed by regular home whites (Wednesday), green Irish jerseys (Thursday), old English Detroit Tiger jerseys (Friday), multi-hued First Responder jerseys (Saturday) and, finally, dark blue alternate home jerseys (Sunday). Six jerseys in six days? Welcome to Minor League Baseball in this, the year of the theme jersey.
The Best of the Rest
Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League)
One Cent Weiner Wednesday, July 30
A lot of teams offer weekly "dollar dog" specials, in which frankfurters can be had for a mere buck. The Lexington Legends take things a step further by offering $0.37 hot dogs on Tuesday, while the Columbus Clippers are long-time proponents of the spectacular deal that is "Dime-a-Dog Night." But short of giving hot dogs away for free, no team can top the Omaha Storm Chasers' "One Cent Wiener Wednesday." Full-sized Hebrew National hot dogs will retail for a mere penny, but the team notes that there is a limit of "10 hot dogs per transaction." All of you big spenders out there are advised to leave your quarters at home.
Lake County Captains (Midwest League)
Jobu bobblehead giveaway on Cleveland Sports History Night, Aug. 1
"Cleveland Sports History Night," a tongue-in-cheek homage to that city's oft-inglorious professional sports past, has long been a staple of the Captains' promotional schedule. This year, the night will largely be dedicated to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the movie Major League. The Captains will take the field in 1989-era Indians road uniforms, and actor Chelcie Ross (who played junkballer Eddie Harris in the film) will be on hand to sign autographs. But most notable of all is the evening's giveaway: the first 1,500 fans in attendance receive bobbleheads in the likeness of "Jobu." This wild-eyed miniature deity was worshipped by outfielder Pedro Cerrano in the film, and now, finally, he can be worshipped by you.
Greeneville Astros (Appalachian League)
General John Hunt Morgan bobblehead giveaway, Aug. 2
Each season the Greeneville Astros pay tribute to an area icon in the form of their "Hometown Hero" bobblehead. Previous honorees include president Andrew Johnson, frontiersman Davy Crockett and ballplayer Rance Pless. Now confederate general John Hunt Morgan can be added to this esteemed roster. This bobblehead is timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Morgan's death, when he was shot by Union troops in Greeneville. The bobblehead depicts him standing next to a cannon, an astute reference to his propensity for destroying things with cannons.
Charlotte Knights (International League)
Charlotte Hornets Tribute Night, August 5
Before the Charlotte Knights were the Knights, they were known as the O's. And before the Charlotte O's were known as the O's, they were known as the Hornets. The Charlotte Hornets era spanned from 1892-1972, and in that time a host of distinguished players passed through the ranks. On Tuesday, the Knights are paying tribute to this portion of their city's baseball past, welcoming more than 20 former Hornets players to their brand-new home of BB&T Ballpark. Charlie Manuel, who played for the 1968 Hornets and managed the 1993 Knights before moving on to a career as a big league manager, headlines the guest list. Carl Finafrock, whose name is fun to say, will be there as well.
Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League)
Dominican Plate Dinner, Aug. 5
The Crosscutters' "Dominican Plate" dinner is a fundraising event that benefits the organization A.C.E.S. (Advancing Communities by Educating and Serving), a Williamsport-based charity focused on sustainable development projects in the Dominican Republic. Taking place at Wililamsport's Genetti Hotel on Tuesday, an off-day for the Cutters, the Dominican Plate event features Dominican players serving Dominican food in order to benefit a charity that serves the Dominican people. Tickets are $20, and the event also includes music, sports memorabilia auctions and a "balloon bust wine raffle." As for what a "balloon bust wine raffle" may be, your guess is as good as mine.
Because more is better, at least most of the time, here is a succinct list of, yes, even more promos taking place in Minor League Baseball this week.
- July 30: The Orem Owlz let "Fans Run the Game." Surely, nothing can go wrong. … Envelopes of cold hard cash will be handed to fans attending the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game. Denominations will vary.
- July 31: "Piney" from the show Sons of Anarchy visits the Altoona Curve. … Mountain Man, peripheral Duck Dynasty character extraordinaire, continues his season-long tour of the Minor League landscape with a visit to the Lynchburg Hillcats.
- Aug. 1: The New Orleans Zephyrs stage "Major League Night," despite not operating in the Cleveland market.
- Aug. 2: The Dunedin Blue Jays' "Ladies Night" will defy your expectations.
- Aug. 3: The Binghamton Mets once again celebrate all major offseason holidays within the span of a single game. … Members of the Walking Dead cast visit the Gwinnett Braves for -- what else? -- Zombie Night.
- Aug. 4: In Reading, the no-apostrophe-needed Fightin Phils give away a home plate-shaped door mat.
- Aug. 5: Jose Canseco visits the Bakersfield Blaze. Those in the know know that things are gonna get weird and stay weird.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.