This post is being composed during the afternoon of 10/31/11 — what else can I write about but Halloween? This commemoration of the macabre is being celebrated throughout America, so ipso facto its being celebrated throughout the Minors as well.
The usual array of teams (Williamsport, Lake Elsinore, Bowie, et al) have turned their ballparks into haunted houses, but in some cases such an extensive effort isn’t necessary. As the Great Lakes Loons prove with this video, sometimes all you need is a mascot dressed as a ghost, holding an air gun.
But Halloween isn’t just about cheap thrills. In Lehigh Valley, the IronPigs held their fourth annual “Suites and Treats” event for underprivileged and special needs children. This is a cool concept, and to my knowledge the IronPigs are the only ones who do it. From the team’s website:
The event took place on the Club Level with the support of the IronPigs’ suite holders, who took advantage of the opportunity to decorate their suite so the children could go “door-to-door” for a unique “trick-or-treating” experience. In total, all 20 suites along with the outdoor PenTeleData party porches were decorated for Suites-n-Treats.
A few examples, from the team’s Facebook photo gallery:
One of the benefits of staging in-season promotions dedicated to offseason holidays is that said promotion can result in content that can then be used during the holiday in question. Make sense? No?
That’s okay. All I’m really trying to say is that the Fort Wayne TinCaps staged a Halfway to Halloween promotion and aired the following video during the game. And — bonus! — the video is once again fit for public consumption.
Meanwhile, in Trenton, the team’s concern regarding the dangers of trick-or-treating has manifested itself in a somewhat ridiculous public awareness campaign.
These guys have made a video. Click HERE to watch it.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have made a new video as well. It’s not related to Halloween in any way, really, but notable nonetheless. Like life itself, this effort is an interactive game of skill:
Nice work on that one by the T-Rattlers. Similar efforts will help prevent offseason mental atrophy, the effects of which have already begun to be felt.
One of the things I like best about my job is that it encompasses virtually all aspects of the game of baseball, allowing me to correspond with (and often meet) a wide variety of individuals while promoting their sundry endeavors.
The endeavor I wish to promote today involves a man by the name of Joe Price, who is attempting to sing the National Anthem at as many Minor League Ballparks as possible in 2011. Given the Herculean amount of logistics involved, this will be no easy task.
But Price seems up to the challenge. He has already performed at dozens of ballparks nationwide (click HERE for a video from Cincinnati) and thus far the response to what he has dubbed “The Anthem Project” has been encouraging. 105 clubs have already replied in positive fashion, with short-season teams soon to be contacted.
Price’s Anthem Project ties into a book that he is working on, dealing with what he describes as “the history and performance of the National Anthem at professional baseball games.” The project will take place during a sabbatical from California’s Whittier College, where he teaches religious studies (previous works include “Rounding the Bases: Baseball and Religion in America”).
Price is now in the process of “proposing specific dates to various teams”. I encourage these clubs to be as flexible as possible, as this is an interesting project and one that could lead to a nice bit of local media coverage just prior.
And if there’s any industry that should be amenable to ambitious and creative promotional endeavors, it’s Minor League Baseball.
Am I right, or am I right?
That was a rhetorical question, as I am right.
And moving on from “right” to “right now”, I would be remiss in my self-imposed Halloween duties if I did not mention two more mascots who have entered the October 31st fray.
In Reno, Archie of the Aces is now delivering “Pumpkin Grams”.
Sez the team:
For just $50, the Aces’ beloved mascot Archie will personally deliver a $25 Reno Aces Gift Card and a small pumpkin with a three-pack of Reno Aces pumpkin-carving templates to the fan of your choice.
Finally, it makes sense that the Casper Ghosts, of all clubs, would be staging a Halloween promotion. Team mascot Hobart, who is in fact a platypus, will join “one lucky family” in “hitting up local merchants for treats.”
Because he’s a platypus, see? No? Well, listen, at least I tried.
News is scarce these days, but by using the foraging skills accumulated over a half decade in the Minor League wilderness I’m able to scavenge enough to get by.
Let’s start with a new logo, although “new” might be an overstatement. “Modified” is more like it, and the modifiers in question are the Pioneer League champion Helena Brewers. They went from this:
To, well, THIS. I’m working on obtaining a picture of the logo that can be posted here, but as for now none are to be found. But what you’ll notice, of course, is that the “B” has been eliminated. The wheat has been given a more functional task as well, transitioning from a decorative swath to the horizontal bridge between the vertical pillars of the “H”.
The Brewers aren’t going against the grain, in other words.
Writing as a means to stave off loneliness, I carry on — to trick or treating mascots! Last week I wrote about Boomer! being available for this crucial October 31st duty, but also up to the task is Buster of the Lakewood BlueClaws and Durham’s Wool E. Bull.
Buster’s Halloween services are being auctioned off via eBay, with the current high bid being $119.50. Seven days are left to bid, however, and I’m guessing that this will reach high six figures by the time it’s all over.
The Bulls are taking a different approach, as Wool E. Bull will “surprise” one lucky family on Halloween. To qualify, this family must subscribe to the Bulls e-newletter and have registered for the opportunity.
Finally, it is very much the season for stadium renovations. Two major projects are now occurring on opposite sides of the country, dealing with ballparks that are more than halfway to centenarian status.
Much more info can be found in broadcaster Mike Curto’s latest blog post, where he reveals that his planned “press box destruction tail gate party” was curtailed by the Rainiers’ PCL championship run.
And then there’s Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium, currently undergoing a $10 million dollar renovation. The latest video progress report, accompanied by a jaunty tune, can be viewed HERE.
Meanwhile, I’m currently soliciting funds for a $10 desk renovation project here at MiLB.com HQ. I need a Scotch tape dispenser and a new pair of scissors.
That’s right, it’s time for a series of exclusive interviews with teams that were nominated for the prestigious Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy! I’ll be running these throughout the week, in order to provide some insight into the philosophies of some of the top-performing teams in the Minors.
The winner of this year’s award has already been announced, but I’ll refrain from mentioning who it is until the end of the week. If you don’t know, but would like to, then get thee to Google.
Today’s featured nominee is the Eastern League’s New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The answers are courtesy of team president (and 2008 Eastern League executive of the year) Rick Brenner. The questions are courtesy of me.
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How would you define your team’s promotional philosophy?
RB: Our philosophy is that if it has the potential to be a fun
night for our fans, then let’s do it. We have 71 games a year, and we ask each staff member to look at it like their only
daughter’s wedding and think of how they would like their wedding guests to be
entertained. What that means is that while we, as a staff, could
be working the final game of a 10-game homestand, it’s critical to remember
that there are always those fans who are attending their first Fisher Cats game
that particular night, and they deserve the best show we can put on. Whether it sells extra tickets or not, if we can hatch an idea that’s fun for
the fans and can really create a special theme around the game, then we go for
it. Of course it is always better when we can combine
entertainment with a cause that is important to the community, which is how we
have generated over one million dollars for the community in the past two
What were some of your biggest promotional successes from
RB: In addition to 20 fireworks nights
and over 45 giveaway nights our biggest success in 2008 came with hosting the Bank of
America All Star Block Party the night before the Northeast Delta
Dental Eastern League All-Star Game in July. We took the night before the
game, normally reserved for just league executives and players, and opened it
up to our fans with a free downtown block party. We
used an outdoor park right in the center of Manchester and created a free event for the community to celebrate
the All-Star Game. We still had a VIP party, but the rest of the park was
a complete carnival and free for the over 3000 fans that came out that
night. There were inflatable rides and face-painting for the kids,
an autograph session with All-Star players, plus Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Babe
Ruth’s daughter, Julia Ruth Stephens. We even had live entertainment with
the Josh Logan Band, which served as a nice prelude to the All-Star Game
itself, where we set our stadium attendance record and saw one of our players,
Travis Snider, put on a show-stopping performance to win the Irving Oil Home
As far as regular season games, Halloween in August worked
out very well for us. Our
fans really took to it. All kids who
dressed up in costume went trick-or-treating throughout the ballpark, and we
had a ‘best costume’ contest for the kids. Our staff members did a
tremendous job with creative costumes, especially the ladies, who dressed up as
Disney princesses and had their own contest to determine who most resembled the
Disney character they were dressed as. We also took
our Educational Days and, in addition to the normal educational things we did,
each staff member dressed like a different character from our nation’s
history. Armed with fact sheets about each character, the staff was on
hand to answer questions and interact with the kids as Ben Franklin, Sam Adams,
Pocahontas and many others.
Any misfires, mishaps, or ideas that just didn’t work?
RB: One of our more popular theme days is Irish Day. The
only drawback in 2008 was that Irish Day and Mothers Day coincided. Everyone had a great time, but it was somewhat confusing
that moms were getting pink hats while kids were getting green horns. And
nothing like relaxing mom by allowing the kids to blow their green horns all
afternoon. Of course the flip side was the
happy Irish moms drinking all afternoon and then stealing the green horns from
What are your favorite sports promotions of all time?
RB: We just love to see happy fans so
anything that makes them laugh and have fun is great to see. We have
Santa Claus here at every game and that is a huge success for the kids.
In a perfect world, what sort of promotions would you
like to stage in 2009 and beyond?
RB: We will have to wait and see what
is in store for the fans of NH next season!
In order to, how you say, “get up to speed”, I’m going to rip a page out of my “Promotion Preview” playbook and write about a number of topics. But, here’s the catch — each of these topics will receive no less than 75 and no more than 125 words.
Wear This and You’ll Have a Ball, Girl — Anybody out there need a last-minute Halloween costume? Then head with a quickness to fresnogrizzlies.com, as the team is offering fans the opportunity to dress as the infamous “ballgirl” who was all the rage last season. You know, the one who made a spectacular leaping grab in Chukchansi Park, completely unaided by any sort of stunt cables or special effects. The costume, which costs $60, includes a Grizzlies cap and home jersey. For maximum realism, call up Jake Wald (the hapless left fielder featured in the clip) and ask him to accompany you to your Halloween party.
While We’re On the Topic of All Hallow’s Eve — Who knew? Halloween is indeed celebrated in Canada. I know this is so because the Vancouver Canadians are staging a pumpkin decorating contest. But hurry, the deadline to submit a tricked-out gourd is today. So don’t delay, and send photographic evidence of your pumpkin prowess to firstname.lastname@example.org…In other Halloween news, Slugger the Portland Sea Dogs mascot was looking for Trick-or-Treat partners — and he found some. Congratulations to the Wareham family of Goreham, ME, who will be accompanied in their candy-pilfering rounds by Portland’s most beloved costumed character.
The Bands, They Are A Battlin’ — Also occurring over Halloween weekend is the Stockton Ports’ first-ever Battle of the Bands. 18 aspiring music combos will take the stage at Banner Island Ballpark over the two-day extravaganza in order to showcase their kinetic musical chops and electromagnetic stage presence. In addition, each evening features a headling band as well. The Righteous and the Wicked (a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band) is scheduled to play on Friday, while groove rockers Minor Dischord close it out on Saturday. Hey guys, you should be more specific and bill yourselves as “Class A Advanced Dischord.” Anyhoo, the winner of this “Battle of the Bands” will be showered with a vast array of musical industry goods and services.
Hank’s Mobile Home Enjoys Brief Stint as a Mobile Home — Regular readers of this blog (ie those not drawn here by a picture of Lucille Ball) will remember this post, in which I detailed the Mobile BayBears’ plans to bring Hank Aaron’s childhood home to the grounds of Hank Aaron Stadium. Well, the club did just that this past week, subjecting the humble residence to an arduous seven-hour journey. I’d say that the whole thing went off without a hitch, except for the fact that a hitch was used in order to transport the house. Regardless, Hank’s old home is now scheduled to receive a six-month restoration, after which it will serve as a museum.
Pick the Improvement Picked — Oh, regular readers, I must defer to you once again. Because surely you remember this post, in which I detailed the Quad City River Bandits’ “Pick the Improvement” contest. As part of this innovative procedure, fans were given the chance to vote on a new upgrade to the River Bandits’ Modern Woodmen Park. Well, the results are in, and the improvement to be made is…drumroll please…the addition of backs to the bleacher seats. Cue the Sir-Mix-A-Lot!
Snap These Up! — Collectors of Minor League memorabilia will be pleased to know that the Beloit Snappers are offering up a plethora of game-used jerseys. Of particular note is the fact that items worn by Chris Cates and Loek Van Mil are available. Regular readers (take a bow, you guys!) will remember this post, which highlighted the fact that these teammates were the shortest and tallest players in all of professional baseball last season. My suggestion? Buy each players’ jersey, and use it as the centerpiece of a homemade exhibit that seeks to highlight the vast diversity that exists within the human race.
Wanted: An Affable Toothy Whistlepig — A previous post on this blog (which may or may not have been read by those who visit regularly) detailed the fact that the Gwinnett Braves had unveiled their new mascot. Well, that was all well and good, but now the club needs a brave and talented soul to step up and inhabit this intriguing character on a nightly basis. In order to do this, the G-Braves are holding mascot auditions on Nov. 18 at a local high school. All aspiring costumed groundhogs are invited to
Clean Sweep, the Sequel — This past March, the Huntsville Stars staged “Operation Clean Sweep”, in which fans were asked to do volunteer beautification work at Joe Davis Stadium in exchange for free tickets. The event, believe it or not, was a huge success, so the team is doing it again. Clean Sweep 2 will be held on November 1, and will give fans the chance to fullfill their lifelong dreams of doing “light cleaning, light landscaping, and painting” at a Double-A stadium. But that, of course, is not all — from the press release: “Fans will be able to taste-test an assortment of different hotdogs and
vote to decide which one will become the official hotdog of Joe Davis
Stadium for the 2009 season.” But remember — with great power comes great responsibility!
My goodness, this has been one of the longest posts in the history of this esteemed blog. I did it for you, regular readers, I did it for you. As always, get in touch with tips, questions, comments, and criticisms:
Since yesterday’s post on Minor League haunted houses received such a rapturous response, I figured I may as well do a follow-up. I mean, it’s not like there’s anything else going on.
Right? (if I’m wrong, please get in touch and tell me what’s going on).
One worthwhile addition to the Haunted House pantheon is going on in Lake Elsinore, where the always first-rate Storm are hosting “Toxic Terrors”. This thing is on a whole ‘nother level. From the website:
The haunt consists of three extreme walk-through attractions that
combine state-of-the-art effects with ultra-realistic environments, one
Scar-zone and dance club, placing YOU in incredibly terrifying
situations. Situations in which you must make decisions, face your
fears, and risk your own fate. You will explore fully themed
environments over 700,000 sq ft. of a haunted stadium and be at the
mercy of over hundreds of infected zombies and mutated creatures. But
don’t expect the usual. You’ll have to think, solve, search, rescue,
run, crawl, slide, hide, climb, and ultimately escape if you want to
defeat ….YOUR TOXIC NIGHTMARE.
“We’ll get girls and older women pushed into a corner with a chainsaw
to their heads, but we want to make sure everybody’s safe.”
After all, safety is priority number one — even when administering a chainsaw to the head.
In Other News:
I wrote on a story on MiLB.com
about how Reggie Whittemore, the Director of Nashville’s RBI program
and a former Minor Leaguer, has been nominated as one of GQ’s “Men of
the Year” in the “Local Heroes” category. The winner will be decided by
a popular vote.
Reggie is a real nice guy and RBI Baseball is
a great program, so why not click on the following link and vote for
Reggie as “Man of the Year”?
you will be a better man than I and not get distracted by some of the
other polls that are currently featured on GQ’s website.
Ben’s Biz Blog moved into its second year of existence this past week. Practically speaking, this means that when I am bereft of blog-worthy material I can simply look back to what I was writing last year and repeat the process.
And what I was writing about last year at this time was this: Haunted Houses in the Minor Leagues.
Sounds good to me! Here’s a look at two haunted houses that are currently being operated by Minor League ballclubs:
— In Bowie, the Baysox are running “Country Terror”. Given the relatively steep admission charge of $20, one can only assume that this 20-minute indoor adventure is of superb quality. In the Country Terror press release, general manager Brian Shallcross claims that “Country Terror” will “scare your Baysox off!”, which is certainly a claim that cannot be taken lightly. In a further display of the Baysox’s commitment to the Halloween cause, the club has also taken to calling their city of residence “Booooowie”.
But will the Baysox be able to top last year’s extravaganza? The club staged “Blackbeard’s Revenge: The Curse of the Severed Head” in 2007, and it sounded like a doozy:
“After coming face to face with the titular Severed
Head, attendees are invited to tour the Haunted Hospital and then get lost in
the Crazed Chain Maze.” (source: this fine blog).
— Meanwhile, in Quad Cities, the re-vamped River Bandits are once again working to establish Modern Woodmen Park as a year-round entertainment destination. The theme of the club’s annual “Field of Screams” spooktacular is “Shoeless Joe’s Revenge.” Seems like a press release quote is in order at this juncture:
“This year’s event is themed around Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was
alleged to have died in 1951. There are those that contend, however,
that he merely faked his own death to escape a life in which he was
known as the villain, returning to Davenport where he fondly recalled
his days of sneaking away from Chicago to enjoy Minor League Baseball
at Municipal Stadium. In a confrontation with an erstwhile young
reporter who caught on to the ruse, Jackson was murdered and buried in
what is now the corn field at Modern Woodmen Park. Every year around
the time of Jackson’s October 31 death, reports surface regarding
paranormal activity coming from the ballpark.”
I consider myself to be an “erstwhile young reporter” (in fact, I am identified as such on my business card), so there’s no way I’m going anywhere near this one. Shoeless Joe would try to kill me — again! It’s a long story, and one I hope to explain in detail at some point in the near future.
In the meantime, any clubs who are running Haunted Houses of their own are invited to get in touch: