As mentioned in the previous post on the blog, I spent this past weekend at the 2011 Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar in Myrtle Beach.
The above photo encapsulates why it can be difficult to cover these sort of events: pictures of hotel conference rooms trade show mingling just aren’t very exciting. Nonetheless, it’s important for me to socialize with those in the industry, and to get a gauge on promotional techniques and concepts that may be popular in 2012 and beyond.
One of the topics touched upon is the Lake Elsinore Storm’s Grounds Crew Gorilla, winner of the 2011 “Golden Bobblehead” for “best in-game promotion.” The Gorilla made a cameo appearance at the seminar, attacking attendees with pool noodles and overturning the speaker’s table. My best attempt to document this chaotic moment:
Certainly, the Grounds Crew Gorilla was one of the highlights of my May visit to a Lake Elsinore Storm game.
Meanwhile, at the Trade Show, Trampolines USA was selling their “Pony Hops.” These things swept through the Minor League landscape last season, and I imagine that there will be even more teams using them in 2012.
The roster of the mighty Skillville Group was on display as well, bathed in beatific blue light.
But I think this mascot was my favorite part of the trade show, a costumed creature available to the highest bidder during Saturday night’s silent auction.
At the time I took this picture, the Danville Braves were the highest (and only) bidder. I’ll have to check to see if they won, because I’d love to see this dazed and confused character at an Appalachian League baseball game.
On Sunday night, there was an industry outing to Ripken Baseball’s Myrtle Beach Baseball complex. My lens was dirty in the following photo, but I like the effect.
This marks the second time this month I was at a Ripken Baseball youth complex, with my first outing taking place in conjunction with an Aberdeen IronBirds game.
According to my hastily-scribbled notes (the only kind of notes I’ve ever made), the Myrtle Beach complex is a 10-month a year operation and devoted almost exclusively to youth, high school and collegiate baseball tournaments. There are three regulation-sized diamonds and five youth size, all on synthetic turf.
Here’s Griffith Field, where an estimated 2500 games have been played over the past six years.
All synthetic everything, even the “dirt.”
A few more shots of the surroundings, some of them taken from the back of a moving golf cart.
From there the festivities moved on to Myrtle Beach’s BB&T Coastal Ballpark, home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. I had visited there in late July, but was happy to be back.
Upon entering, we were greeted with some very welcome sights.
1. Popcorn and boiled peanuts!
2. Beer, as poured through the Bottoms Up beer dispenser (yes, they fill from the bottom. Magnets are key). Needless to say this was good marketing, using this product in full view of curious (and endlessly thirsty) industry decision-makers.
You may recall that when I was in Myrtle Beach I interviewed noted groundskeeper Chris “Butter” Ball, during which he observed that he keeps “extreme banker’s hours” in the offseason.
Well, this offseason might be a little different:
A buffet-style meal was set up in the right field picnic area, while down the left field line attendees could play corn hole and test their arms at the speed pitch.
As is too often the case, the demands of attending and covering an event such as the seminar leaves little time for exploring the area. But I’d like to close with this shot, as it features a business that has found a way to carry on amidst Myrtle Beach’s proliferation of neon-hued dining palaces and soul-destroying theme bars.
Harry’s Breakfast Pancakes — RIP Harry!
Next time I got to Myrtle Beach, this will be first on my list of places to check out.