Minor League teams are known for the creativity of their gameday promotions. On Tuesdays this season, we have previewed the most intriguing for each week to come. This is the final edition of the 2014 regular season. 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."
On Wednesday, Aug. 27, the Altoona Curve will "Dare to Be Stupid." For those not familiar with "Weird Al" Yankovic's distinguished discography, "Dare to Be Stupid" is the title of his third album (sandwiched between 1984's "In 3D" and 1986's "Polka Party"). Wednesday, the Curve will salute the iconic pop parodist via its wide-ranging "Weird Al(Toona) Night" promotion.
It will be a night of daring stupidity in honor of a man whose improbable career, now in its fourth decade, is still going strong.
One should not need a reason to stage a ballpark salute to one of America's foremost cultural icons, but nonetheless the Curve had ample impetus. Yankovic's most recent album, "Mandatory Fun," was released in July and debuted at No. 1. This triumph was followed by a fan-driven online petition to have "Weird Al" perform during the Super Bowl halftime show, which has since garnered some 130,000 signatures.
"['Weird Al'] just got his first No. 1 album in his 30-year career -- we thought that was pretty cool," said Curve general manager Rob Egan, an avowed fan. "It all lined up nicely. For some reason, 27 is Weird Al's favorite number and we were home on the 27th. We're in "Al"-toona, and we have [mascot] Al Tuna and he's kind of weird. It all kind of works."
In advance of "Weird Al(toona) Night," the Curve have compiled over three hours of "Weird Al" music to play at the ballpark. Much of this music will be deployed strategically during the game, such as "Handy" to commemorate a stellar defensive play, "Like a Surgeon" to celebrate a strikeout, and "Sports Song" to accentuate a run-scoring play. (For more ideas on how to incorporate "Weird Al" into the ballpark playlist, please refer to my 2010 blog post on the subject). And, as Mr. Popeil would say, "But wait, there's more!"
Free admission will be granted to fans with shoulder-length hair, those wearing Hawaiian shirts (a "Weird Al" sartorial specialty) and architects (Al's intended career path, way back when). A "Weird Al" karaoke station will be set up on the concourse, and between-innings games will be modified to fit the theme of the evening. ("Eat It" Extreme Eating Challenge, anyone?) And speaking of eating -- "Twinkie Weiner Sandwiches," immortalized in Yankovic's 1990 cult move classic UHF, will be available at the concession stands.
"I'm looking forward to seeing people eat those. I'm not sure how well the cheese will go with the Twinkies," said Egan. "My concession guy asked me how many Twinkies he should buy. That's a good question. I'm thinking a couple hundred if not more, because people will be intrigued. I know that our staff will be eating a fair number."
"Al in Al," those who Dare to Be Stupid at the ballpark will have plenty of opportunity to do so.
"What's cool is that most of his stuff is family-friendly," said Egain. "Between songs and videos and UHF clips, we have so much material."
Best of the Rest
Nashville Sounds (Pacific Coast League)
Last Cheer at Greer, Aug. 27
The Sounds' current seven-game homestand comes to an end Wednesday, thus concluding the team's 37-season run at Greer Stadium (the team will move to a new downtown ballpark in 2015). For Wednesday's last-ever game, the first 2,000 fans through the gates receive Greer Stadium color-changing commemorative cups. Once the game ends, the finalist in the team's ongoing "Smash the Guitar" contest will hit home runs off the façade of Greer's iconic guitar scoreboard. Finally, the team will go out with a bang -- literally. The Sounds are promising that the last fireworks show in Greer Stadium history will also be the largest.
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League)
The '90s Are All That Night, Aug. 27
2014 was the season of ridiculous theme jerseys, and on Thursday, the Cyclones are adding another one to the mix. It's "The '90s Are All That Night," and the team will take the field in slime-drenched Double Dare jerseys. The cable television nostalgia doesn't end there, however. The first 3,000 fans through the gate receive a Nickelodeon-branded sweatband, Kenen and Kel co-star Kel Mitchell throws out the first pitch and members of the Rugrats clan will be roaming the concourse. The truly committed will opt for a $25 ticket package that includes admission to a pregame taping of Double Dare LIVE! They'll have the slime of their lives.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Rock Paper Scissors for Free Admission, Aug. 28
Want to get into Thursday's Fresno Grizzlies game for free? It shouldn't be too difficult to do. The team has invited a Lucha Xtreme wrestler to the ballpark, who will be posted at the gate one hour prior to the start of the game. Those who are able to defeat the wrestler in a game of Rock Paper Scissors receive free admission, while those who are vanquished must pay the princely sum of $5. I wish that I was able to take part in this promotion, as during my days on the competitive Rock Paper Scissors circuit, I made money hand over fist.
Albuquerque Isotopes (Pacific Coast League)
Win Joc Pederson's Car, Aug. 29
Joc Pederson is having a noteworthy week. On Saturday, the Isotopes outfielder became the first 30/30 player in the Pacific Coast League's modern era. On Friday, Isotopes fans can enter for a chance to win his car. The team's press release says it far better than I could:
"One lucky fan … will drive away (or tow away) Joc Pederson's luxurious 1994 Buick Century. … The car, nicknamed 'Little Chucky,' has only 166,000 miles on it and has at least one operable window. … It is perfect for cruising around during the New Mexico summers with its 'awesome' stereo system and lack of air conditioning. Kelly Blue Book estimates the value at nearly $1,000 (depending on if it has a full tank of gas). Little Chucky will also come with two complimentary air fresheners and whatever else Pederson forgets to clean out."
Lancaster JetHawks (California League)
Reversible L.A. Basketball Jerseys, Aug. 30
JetHawks fans might be able to agree on their mutual love of the JetHawks, but their NBA fandom might be a different story. On Saturday, the JetHawks are addressing this mild conundrum via a unique reversible jersey giveaway to the first 1,000 fans. One side of the jerseys features the "JetHawks" name in a style modeled after the Lakers, while on the reverse one finds a Clippers-themed iteration. No matter how you look at it, this item will result in a "net" gain for fans of both Los Angelese-based sporting entities.
Louisville Bats (International League)
Corky Miller Night, Aug. 31
38-year-old backstop Corky Miller has played for five Major League teams, but it is in the town of Louisville where he will be forever remembered. The heavily mustachioed folk hero played for the Louisville Bats from 2001-04 and again from 2009 through June of this season, going on to set franchise records in games played and doubles and ranking among the top five in a host of other categories. On Sunday, the Bats will retire his No. 8 in a pregame ceremony (marking the first time that the team has ever retired a player's number), and the first 2,500 fans receive a Corky Miller photo montage poster. Miller will be in attendance for this emotional evening; his perpetually stiff upper lip completely obscured by his signature mustache.
Because that's it, that's all, that's all there is, here's a succinct roundup of even more notable promotions taking place this week.
- Aug. 27: Once again, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs give away foam fingers as a tongue in-cheek way to raise prostate cancer awareness. … The Mahoning Valley Scrappers salute innovative front-office icon Bill Veeck.
- Aug. 28: The Akron RubberDucks go small in a big way, saluting the 25th anniversary of Honey I Shrunk the Kids on an evening that also includes midget wrestling and a one-kilometer "mini-race." … Speaking of mini, the Lexington Legends give away Jose Altuve mini-bobbleheads.
- Aug. 29: Normal won't be the norm in Rome, as the Braves stage "Something Different Night."
- Aug. 30: Don Pardo may have passed, but his spirit lives on during the Flying Squirrels "Live, from Richmond, its Saturday Night" promo.
- Aug. 31: The Round Rock Express give away "Mystery Photos." The suspense is killing me.
- Sept. 1: It's the last day of the Minor League season. Just chill out and watch a game for once.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.