Tagged: Minoring in Business

Minor League MegaBytes!

Tuesday’s post began with the Erie SeaWolves and their quest to name a nine-foot tall inflatable fish. But exercises in the assignation of aquatic monikers are certainly not exclusive to remote corners of the Keystone State.

In Pensacola, the fledgling Blue Wahoos are currently staging a “Name the Mascot” contest. I’m not sure if this mascot is himself a fish, but at the very least his silhouette looks a tad platypus-ian.

The six finalists are as follows: The six finalists are: Blu, Capt. Catch, Salty, Sinker, Ono (Hawaiian for Wahoo), Kazoo.

I’d advise against the name Ono, because then the mascot will immediately be blamed if the team stops functioning well as a group. (Although, the team could give away “Plastic Ono” figurines).

Moving on to another news item with aquatic undertones — Did you know that season 3 of the HBO show Eastbound and Down was filmed in Myrtle Beach, with baseball scenes taking place at Pelicans stadium? It’s true, and the Pelicans are capitalizing by selling “Myrtle Beach Mermen” merchandise (or “Mermerch,” as I like to call it). 

Officially licensed “Mermerch” is also available at myrtlebeachmermenjerseys.com, a site that gets extra alliteration points for referring to Mr. Powers as “mercurial.” Visitors to the site are greeted with the following image, which looks like a hallucinating sailor’s interpretation of a ’70s era Seattle Mariners logo:

The show wrapped up filming for the third season just last month, and Pelicans broadcaster Joel Godett spent some time on the set as an extra:

Extra! Extra!

Godett thoroughly recapped the experience on his blog, which can be seen HERE.

As you can see, the crowd was really into it:

While MB Mermen gear is all well and good, it’s another piece of MB clothing that really has caught my attention.

The Montgomery Biscuits are now offering this spiffy little number in adult sizes.

Butter Up!

People are giving Bill Simmons flak because he didn’t wear a tie when he interviewed Obama, but it is my promise to you that if I ever snag a POTUS exclusive I will show up at the White House wearing the above item (also: a fanny pack, flip flops, Akron Aeros gym shorts, and a Reading Phillies’ Richie Ashburn-style fedora. I’ve got this all planned out).

And since I’m on the “MB” theme (I didn’t plan on this theme, it’s just that my mind cannot be stopped and is in fact threatening to eat me alive as if I was some sort of anthropomorphic biscuit), my latest Minoring in Business article appeared today on MiLB.com.

It’s on the Florida State League and Spring Training, and can be seen HERE.

Next week I plan to get a bit more substantive on the blog — as it’s 2012 planning time! As always, I look forward to your suggestions as to where I should go and why.

But, for now, I’ll close this blogging week by providing an  happy update on a tragic situation from a few weeks back.

Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder’s stolen quad has been recovered!

Reports the team:

Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder is happy to have his quad back but it looks like it will need a little bit of help before he can come roaring out for game day festivities.
Last Wednesday, the team filed a police report with the local sheriff’s department that the mascot’s quad had been stolen.
After Director of Mascot Operations Patrick Gardenier retrieved the quad from the Riverside Sheriff’s station on Sunday it was found to be a bit more damaged than expected.
“They painted it all black and walked away with the ignition, the tail light, and the wheels are not aligned properly,” said Gardenier. “I hope we can get it fixed in time for the Major League exhibition game.”

In honor of this positive development, I would suggest that the Storm offer a special four-game “Quad Ticket Pack.” A portion of each sales will go to Thunder’s quad refurbishment.

And with that, another Minor League promo idea disappears into the Biz Blog vortex. Never to be spoken of again.



Celebrating the Past, in the Present

I took a vacation day on Friday. It was a vacation that brought me all the way to my kitchen, which I cleaned.

True story.

Also on Friday, my latest “Minoring in Business” article appeared on MiLB.com. It was about using a team’s history as a promotional tool, and focused on an in-depth project undertaken by the Visalia Rawhide.

The article was inspired by broadcaster Visalia broadcaster Donny Baarns, who gave a speech at the Winter Meetings entitled “Learning From Orwell: How History Can Enhance Your Club’s Brand.” There are many advantages to a historically-minded marketing approach (read the article!) but one of Baarns’ more unexpected examples was this: re-connecting with old sponsors.

In 1952, Buckman-Mitchell Insurance had their name at the top of the club’s pocket schedules.

At some point along the way, Buckman-Mitchell stopped sponsoring Visalia’s professional baseball team. But upon being shown the schedule seen above, the company is now back on (bill)board.

Visalia’s efforts have been particularly impressive, but historically-minded promotions and displays can be found throughout Minor League Baseball. The  Rickwood Classic, in which the Birmingham Barons return to their former home for an afternoon of nostalgia, is a justly-celebrated annual tradition. I was lucky enough to attend in 2010.

Also in 2010, the Mobile BayBears opened the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum. In an unprecedented effort, they moved Hank Aaron’s childhood home to the grounds of the stadium, renovated it, and re-opened it as a museum.

I attended the opening, which was attended by luminaries even more luminous than myself.

Feller, Smith, Sutter, Jackson, Aaron, Henderson (Willie Mays not pictured, but he was there!)

And then there are the Delmarva Shorebirds, whose stadium hosts the “Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Finally, last week I took to Twitter in order to ask “In what ways do you promote your team’s history, at the ballpark and otherwise?”

I got a wide range of responses, including the following:

Bowie Baysox: Celebrating 20th anniversary this season. Articles on website recapping past seasons, and several events scheduled during season.

Connecticut Tigers: Pay tribute to Norwich’s previous franchise by staging “Navigator’s Night” promotions with throwback jerseys.

Hagerstown Suns: Put out a “Legends” baseball card set honoring players from throughout the past three decades.

Harrisburg Senators: All time roster on a board, and pictures of the ballpark going back 60 to 70 years.

High Desert Mavericks: Year-by-year Opening Day line-ups displayed on stadium pillars.

Inland Empire 66ers: 66ers celebrated 25 years last season. Had articles on team history, wore throwbacks every Tuesday and did themed giveaways.

The San Jose Giants went ahead a sent a few photos, of the hand-painted murals and timelines located throughout the ballpark.

Scooter Tucker's first appearance on this blog

And on and on it goes. This is the part of the blog where, without the slightest hint of disingenuosness, I ask YOU to get in touch.  In what ways is history celebrated and promoted by your favorite Minor League team? What else could be done?



Answer Me This

Over the weekend I received an email from a reader named Robert, a self-described “non-traditional student” who is currently enrolled in a sports economic class and working on a term paper.

Robert asks a question that, in various forms, I myself have often wondered. He writes:

[Is there] any current information, research or ideas of where to look for information concerning attendance numbers as possibly influenced by promotions and/or a winning team on the field?

My reply was, essentially, “no.” But what I’d like to know from Minor League Baseball employees who read this blog is this:

— What promotions were your most demonstrably successful, in that attendance was significantly higher than on a comparable date on the calendar?

— What, if any, correlation have you found between a winning team and attendance?

I realize that these questions can be hard to answer, because there are so many variables at play (weather, the day of the week, competing entertainment options, etc). But to the extent that a particular promotion’s efficacy can be analyzed, I’d like to hear about it. What worked, and why?

And as for that second query, one of the defining characteristics of Minor League Baseball is that an affordable family-friendly entertainment experience trumps the product on the field. But the extent to which this is true varies by market, and I’d like to hear instances in which the team’s success truly mattered at the box office. Anecdotally speaking, I haven’t visited too many teams in which the crowd was significantly invested in the final outcome.

So, please, take a little of that precious Offseason Down Time (TM) and send me an email with your thoughts and observations. As always, I can be reached at benjamin.hill@mlb.com

And speaking of the offseason, the premier edition of my bi-weekly “Minoring in Business” feature ran on Friday. It’s an interview with veteran mascot Brad Collins (currently with the Kansas City Royals), who has some strong opinions on what teams can and should do with their mascot programs.

Infiltrate and overtake

And on a similar topic, my “Offseasoning” feature will make its 2011-12 debut soon. This bi-weekly MiLB.com offering profiles how players spend their offseasons, with an emphasis on unusual jobs and hobbies. Know a player who should be featured? Then get in touch!

Coming Soon

I’ll close with an item from the always reliable “apropos of nothing” category. Is this the best corn maze in all of Minor League Baseball? I would say “Yes. Yes it is.”

The Tigers and the Mud Hens: Celebrating 25 years of mutual dependence.

The above maize-terpiece is Farmer Charley’s latest creation; fans of the genre are advised to travel immediately to Monroe, MI in order to see it in person.

And that’ll be it for me on this Monday evening. Apologies for the slow blogging pace as of late, but stay tuned for long-awaited posts such as “2011’s Best Photos” and the long-delayed “Introspective Mascots, Vol. 1.” Your patience shall be rewarded a thousandfold.



Back On Track In the Big Apple

I have returned from Vegas, slightly damaged but fundamentally intact, and ready to resume blogging duties on a regular basis.

As you’ll no doubt recall, I was in the Sin City in order to attend the annual Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. How it works is simple. Attendees file into a big room in order to hear speeches and discussions regarding innovative promotional ideas. Then, in the evenings, they mingle.





As luck would have it, I filed a pair of stories from Vegas.

ray.gifThe first piece laid out a simple and exciting new equation: Mascot Legend Dave Raymond + Vero Beach Sports Village = Mascot Boot Camp, specifically for costumed characters within Minor League Baseball.

The second article focused on Justine Siegal, head of the organization Baseball for All. Siegal was attending the seminar in order to pitch “Girl’s Baseball Day” promotions to Minor League teams.

And, of course, both articles were packed with the requisite “News and Notes” you’ve come to know and love (or, more accurately, that you’ve come to be vaguely aware of, and barely tolerate).

I would have produced more content from Vegas, but on Thursday afternoon I ended up getting very sick (my theory is food poisoning). The less said about that, the better, but suffice to say it occurred to me that the 11th floor of the Paradise Tower in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino would be a very sad and spiritually deficient place in which to shuffle off this mortal coil.


Tomb of the Unknown Blogger

Sickness prevented me from attending Day Three of the Seminar, during which various promotional awards were handed out.

The winners, determined via attendee voting.

Best Theme Night/Overall Promotion: Brooklyn Cyclones — Jersey? Sure! Night

Best Non-Game Day Promotion: Clearwater Threshers — Hops For Hospice
Best In-Game Promotion: Lehigh Valley IronPigs — Battlefield Challenge
Best Green Promotion: New Britain Rock Cats — Green Team

But more importantly, only 16 hours remain to vote for MiLB.com’s “Promotion of the Year” semi-finals! Choose your favorite in each of four categories, or simply follow the example of “HappyB” and complain about “rediculous” omissions in the comments section.

And, finally, please note that new content has kept on coming regardless. Check out the offseason’s first “Minoring in Business” column, which takes a look at high-profile PDC changes throughout the Minors.

Or, even better, read through 2010’s final edition of”Crooked Numbers”. It details many of the strange and absurd events that occurred on the playing field throughout the month of September, and I really appreciate those who take the time to read it.


The Art and Science of the Minor League Wish List

wish.jpgToday I must draw my readers’ attention to my Minoring in Business “cover” story, which features the Holiday Wish Lists of 20 (!) Minor League teams.

Folks, this is the kind of content you just can’t find anywhere else, so I hope you appreciate it. I could just as easily be getting paid to write literary essays on the cultural effects of 21st-century social isolation for Harper’s, you know. Lewis Lapham is constantly badgering me to do this.

But, no. The Minor Leagues are my calling, so I must answer the call. Therefore, revel in today’s article, which is chock-full of interesting Holiday requests. There is currently a poll on the MiLB.com homepage, asking fans to vote on their favorites. Your choices include three masterpieces of the Minor League Holiday Poetry genre (Huntsville, Toledo, Quad Cities), as well as a handwritten mascot letter (West Michigan) and a superb doctored photo (Tri-City ValleyCats).

Not included in the Top 5 poll, but still worth checking out, are humorous contributions fromsanty.jpg Reading, Williamsport, and Birmingham. Actually, it’s ALL worth checking out. Do not discriminate.

And I may as well get in on the act as well, and post a Holiday Wish List for this here blog. I refuse to address it to anyone in particular, but I nonetheless believe these things will happen as a result of positive karmic repercussion. I give, so that I may get. Here are the two things that I want:

— More readers! The numbers have been really strong lately, especially for the offseason, but there is still plenty of room for growth. I feel that the subject matter has appeal far beyond “the industry” and Minor League Baseball superfans. The culture and atmosphere of a Minor League Baseball stadium reflects the culture and atmosphere of the community in which it is located. Taken together, these community portraits represent and reflect American culture.

To summarize, and tone down the pretention a notch (sorry Lewis): Minor League Baseball IS America.

— More feedback! There has been a nice uptick in comments as of late, and I routinely receive emails from front office folks and fans alike. But…more please! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this blog is a two-way street. The content will only ever be as good as what I am provided with by my readers.

So get in touch, for any reason at all: