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A puzzling development in Charleston

RiverDogs go down and across for Crossword Night promotion
On April 26, the Yankees' Class A affiliate will take the field in jerseys featuring a custom-made crossword puzzle. (Charleston RiverDogs)
March 3, 2020

When it comes to what the Charleston RiverDogs have planned for April 26, you'll have to fill in the blanks. That Sunday, a 5:05 p.m. ET contest against the Augusta GreenJackets, will be Crossword Puzzle Night at the RiverDogs' home of Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ballpark. The Class A New York

When it comes to what the Charleston RiverDogs have planned for April 26, you'll have to fill in the blanks. 
That Sunday, a 5:05 p.m. ET contest against the Augusta GreenJackets, will be Crossword Puzzle Night at the RiverDogs' home of Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ballpark. The Class A New York Yankees affiliate will suit up in jerseys featuring a custom-made crossword puzzle, with all of the clues provided and all of the answers left blank. Actor Leslie David Baker, who played crossword puzzle aficionado Stanley Hudson on The Office, will be the evening's special guest. 

The RiverDogs' crossword puzzle jerseys were the brainchild of director of promotions Nate Kurant, now entering his fifth season with the team. Kurant was never particularly good at doing crossword puzzles, but he enjoyed them nonetheless.
"A good friend of mine from back home, the two of us would sit together at a coffee shop and do the crossword puzzle," said Kurant. "We had to team up and do it together, because we weren't smart enough to do it ourselves."
Doing crossword puzzles is one thing, but writing them is another.
"I put in far too much time, and fortunately there are a ton of resources out there," said Kurant. "This is a full-size actual crossword. Not the hardest thing. Not the easiest thing. But it can stand alone. Without giving anything away, you won't have to know anything about [the RiverDogs] to figure out the theme."

The crossword puzzle depicted on the RiverDogs' jerseys utilizes a 21 x 21 grid, the same size as the New York Times' Sunday crossword puzzle. Kurant has thus far been unsuccessful in his attempts to book Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz as a ballpark guest, but added, "I hope he gets wind of it and thinks what we're doing is neat." The jerseys will be auctioned off following the game, with proceeds benefiting a to-be-determined charity.  

"I thought this was a fun idea, especially because theme jersey [promotions] don't tend to be on Sundays," said Kurant. "And having Stanley [Hudson] at the ballpark, he can do some crossword puzzles throughout the evening. While other [Minor League teams] do The Office Night promotions, we thought we'd focus on this very specific niche of The Office -- Stanley and his crossword puzzles." 
As for the theme jerseys themselves, Kurant noted the Charleston RiverDogs' team name "may be worked into the puzzle somehow." Beyond that, details are scarce. 
"We're still working on the best way to execute this," said Kurant. "We don't want to put a clear image [of the puzzle] online, because then there'll be less incentive to bid on them. So we're going to keep it under wraps for now. But like any good crossword puzzle, you work at it and then something unlocks and it all falls into place." 

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