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Promo Preview: Greener pastures

Groundskeeper's 'Chia' figure highlights unusual week
May 11, 2010
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 [email protected] with the subject line: "Promo Preview."

Bowling Green Hot Rods (Midwest League)
Hootie-Palooza, May 13

Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker turns 44 on Thursday, and the Hot Rods have decided that this milestone should not -- nay, cannot -- go uncelebrated. Therefore, it will be "Hootie-Palooza" at Bowling Green Ballpark, an evening dedicated to Rucker and his bandmates. Deep cuts from Rucker's decades-long discography will be played on the PA throughout the evening, and all in-game promos will be tailored to the theme (including player walk-up music and head shots). The birthday boy declined the team's invitation to attend the ballgame, but a guitar signed by Rucker will be raffled off during the ballgame (with proceeds benefiting charity). This is one giveaway that will definitely have strings attached.

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
Joe Washington Appearance, May 14

Joe Washington played for the Washington Redskins from 1981-'84, a stint that was memorable beyond its remarkable symmetry between surname and geographical location. The running back was a part of two Super Bowl teams during his tenure in DC, including the 1982 championship squad. His presence at Richmond's The Diamond on Friday will help Redskins fans hearken back to that long-ago time when the club was able to transcend mediocrity on a regular basis, a state of gridiron affairs rarely seen in our nation's capital. Washington will sign autographs and pose for pictures with Richmond's Redskins faithful, with the shine from his Super Bowl ring negating the need for a flash.

Toledo Mud Hens (International League)
National Dance Like a Chicken Night with Chicken Hat Giveaway, May 14

"National Dance Like a Chicken Day" is on Friday, an event that results in frenetic fowl impersonations from coast to coast. But the celebrations will reach their "beak" in Toledo, as the appropriately named Mud Hens are distributing Chicken Hats to the first 1,500 fans in attendance. Usually only available at the finest of haberdasheries, these pieces of headgear immediately transform the wearer from mild-mannered human to hip-shaking chicken. As if this wasn't enough incentive to attend, the evening may also feature an appearance from "American Idol" contestant Crystal Bowersox. If the Ohio native advances to the final three Tuesday, then she'll celebrate by singing the National Anthem at Toledo's Fifth Third Field.

Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Mike Williams Groundskeeper Chia Head, May 15

RiverDogs groundskeeper Mike Williams has earned a wide variety of turf-tending accolades in honor of his impeccable work at Charleston's Joseph P. Riley Park, but his greatest honor is yet to come. On Saturday, the club will be giving away a one-of-a-kind Mike Williams Chia Head doll. Aspiring gardeners simply need to remove the cap from Williams' head, in order to lovingly cultivate the fertile soil located beneath. His once-barren cranium will soon be sporting wavy locks of Chia, making this the most hirsute giveaway item since Good Luck Trolls went out of style.

Mobile BayBears (Southern League)
Larry Tye Appearance, May 15

Despite enjoying a career of unparalleled brilliance and longevity, Mobile native Satchel Paige did not become the subject of a comprehensive biography until earlier this year. The author who finally filled this considerable void in the biographical cannon was Larry Tye, whose work Satchel offered fans a meticulously researched look at the life of an iconoclastic baseball immortal. Tye will be in attendance at Saturday's BayBears game, participating in an on-field pregame interview and then sticking around to autograph copies of his tome. (Late-breaking news: Tye will also be in attendance at May 17's Birmingham Barons game.)

Oklahoma City RedHawks (Pacific Coast League)
Mark Harmon Celebrity Baseball Game, May 15

If you've always wondered who would win in a baseball game between doctors and celebrities, then get yourself to Oklahoma City's Bricktown Ballpark in order to find out the answer. Saturday is the annual Mark Harmon Celebrity Baseball game, in which the veteran actor leads a squad of celebrities against a team comprised of top-notch Oklahoma physicians. This year, Harmon's "Bombers" crew includes former Major Leaguers such as Rick Sutcliffe and Wally Joyner, as well as big-time Hollywood producer Frank Marshall. Will they be able to hold off slugging stars of the medical profession such as Gunnar Poff and Brandon Birdwell?

Visalia Rawhide (California League)
Wedding Night, May 15
Candy Drop, May 16

Love will be in the air at Recreation Ballpark on Saturday night, as local couple Tom Plummer and Angie Stevenson will exchange vows as part of an all-expenses-paid wedding ceremony and reception. The Minor League lovebirds, who first met at a blind date at the ballpark, were selected for this honor after participating in an offseason essay contest. The love in the air will have finally dissipated by the following afternoon, at which point the Rawhide will replace it with candy. A helicopter will deluge the playing field with a variety of confections following that day's ballgame, and kids aged 12 and under will be granted the opportunity to gather up as much as they possibly can. Talk about a sugar rush.

Burlington Bees (Midwest League)
Community Basket Day, May 16

Burlington, Iowa, might be the smallest market in all of full-season Minor League Baseball, but Community Basket Day proves that the city can nonetheless organize a giant raffle. The titular basket consists of products donated by dozens of local businesses, which will be raffled off to one lucky winner during Sunday's game. The raffle tickets are $2 apiece and sold by a number of local non-profit organizations, which get to keep $1 of every ticket they sell. This year's Community Basket includes more than three dozen items, with the biggest ticket item being a 2010 Chevy Aveo. And if the winner is present at the stadium when his or her winning number is called, then the Bees will kick an extra $1,000 into the already overflowing prize package.

Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Pacific Coast League)
CPR Training World Record Attempt, May 18

In March, 6,577 individuals in Guadalajara, Mexico, set a new Guinness World Record by simultaneously participating in a CPR Training Session. The Sky Sox are taking aim at that mark Tuesday as part of CPR Awareness and Training Night. Everyone in the ballpark -- many of whom will be lured there by $2 Tuesday admission and drink specials -- will be encouraged to participate in a pregame training session, which will be conducted by first-aid experts from local fire departments. The deal will be even sweeter for groups in attendance, who will be provided with complimentary training videos and CPR practice dummies. Whether it results in a world record or not, this promotion solidifies the Sky Sox's reputation as the Minor League's leading practitioners of mass mouth-to-mouth mobilization.

Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League)
Dress Like Craig Sager Night, May 18

Craig Sager may be "America's Sideline Reporter," but he has achieved an even greater renown thanks to his unrelenting sartorial splendor. No getup is too ostentatious for the esteemed TBS personality, who had to soundproof his walk-in wardrobe because his suits are so loud. This shameless fashion sense will be on full display in Fort Myers on Tuesday, as the Miracle will be staging "Dress Like Craig Sager Night." Details regarding this event were scarce at press time, but suffice to say those averse to unapologetic garishness would be wise to steer clear.

Bonus Coverage: Because at least one person has come to expect it, here are seven promotions that could have been featured in last week's column -- could have been, but weren't:

Cinco De Mayo Hangover Night (Charlotte Stone Crabs, May 6): Because nothing cures a Mexican holiday-related hangover like "Thirsty Thursday" drink specials.

Rubber Ducky Giveaway (Frederick Keys, May 7): The Keys have long made it a priority to make bath time as fun as possible.

George "The Animal" Steele Appearance (Syracuse Chiefs, May 7): Who's Stephen Strasburg? Syracuse fans packed the park in order to get a glimpse of the world's greatest septuagenarian wrestler.

Salute to Sweatpants (West Michigan Whitecaps, May 8): An elastic waistband makes life a little more bearable.

Mother's Day Diamond Dig (Kinston Indians, May 9): What better way to honor Mom than by cheering her on while she maniacally digs up a Minor League infield in search of jewels?

Golf Night with Jim Furyk (Jacksonville Suns, May 10): The nationally esteemed golf pro teed off against Suns players and coaches in a pregame competition.

Once De Mayo (Quad Cities River Bandits, May 11): Proving that Cinco De Mayo can be celebrated seis days after the fact.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for