Minor League ballparks are hospitable places, rolling out the red carpet for sitcom stars, sexagenarian wrestlers and eccentric hurlers alike.
Today’s edition of “Promo Year in Review” features my top six celebrity appearances of the year, highlighting a half-dozen bold-faced names who graced the ballpark with their presence. But, as always, I need YOU to tell me who I’ve missed. Get in touch via email or Twitter and let me know, as suggestions for this and previous categories will be accepted through 10 a.m. Monday.
My six nominees, in ever-so-sensible alphabetical order. Click on each individual’s name to see how his ballpark visit was originally covered (and, yes, they are all men. Don’t shoot the messenger).
Fresno Grizzlies — Alfonso “Carlton” Ribiero (as part of “Mad Tight ’90s Night”)
Lakewood BlueClaws — Jeff “Chunk” Cohen (as part of “Goonies Night”)
Oklahoma City RedHawks — Peter Mayhew (aka “Chewbacca”)
Reading Phillies — Dennis “Mr. Belding” Haskins
Round Rock Express — Rojo Johnson (aka Will Ferrell)
Vermont Lake Monsters — Bill “Spaceman” Lee/Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd (on the same night!)
I don’t have a picture from this picture, but here are their respective Wikipedia photos:
Duty compels me to once again mention that I need your input. What celebrities caused a sensation at YOUR Minor League ballpark this year. And — hey! — I know you’re reading. There’s no escape. Get in touch. Are you going to let my complete neglect of sexagenarian wrestlers go uncriticized?
The Bowling Green Hot Rods’ “What Could’ve Been Night” was voted the top promotion in all of Minor League Baseball last season, an honor that thoroughly validated the once-fringe promotional concept of alternate reality celebration.
The Hot Rods’ success has inspired at least four teams to follow suit in 2010: The Quad Cities River Bandits, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Portland Beavers, and State College Spikes. I eagerly await each and every one of these promotions, but for now we shall focus on the goings-on in State College.
For the Spikes’ just released the details of August 27’s “What If Night”, details that I will now share with you.
Ever wish you could go back in time five years? The State College Spikes
are inviting fans to do just that by turning back the clock to the
franchise’s 2005 “Name the Team Contest” – the one that ultimately led
to “Spikes” being picked as team nickname – and selecting one of the
runner-up choices to have its moment of glory.
To play up the theme of the day, the team will take the field for that
night’s game against the Batavia Muckdogs as either the Anglers, Coalys,
Furnace or Haymakers, and Spikes fans will again have the power to
decide….The winning nickname will be honored with a logo and specially-designed
jerseys, which will be worn by the players during the August 27 game and
then auctioned off to fans in attendance that night.
This contest really brings me back, as a young Benjamin Hill wrote a news article in November of 2005 detailing the selection of “Spikes” as the team’s name. This was in MiLB.com’s first year of operation, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. In that regard, little has changed.
— But speaking of alternate existences — how bizarre would it be if the universe’s most celebrated Wookie was in actuality a seven-foot tall British thespian prone to making appearances at Minor League ballparks?
That’s the mind-bending reality experienced by Oklahoma City baseball fans last week, as Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew pressed the flesh and smiled for the flash at Bricktown Ballpark.
Here he is with a young Jedi:
And here he is in the dugout with RedHawks manager Bobby Jones:
No word yet on what Chewbacca would select as his on-bat music, but while we wait for this crucial information please peruse THIS LIST of personalized player intro tunes provided by the Pacific Coast League’s Reno Aces.
In an alternate reality, I am a member of the Reno Aces hoping to make it back to the bigs. Each time I come to the plate, the crowd is regaled with THIS.