Among this year’s crop of new Minor League logos, surely the most striking was the Lexington Legends’ away cap. It features a mustache, and nothing else. Or, if you prefer images to words, it features this:
By adopting such a look, the Legends were clearly aiming to make an impact outside of their market. Ty Cobb, the team’s graphic designer, acknowledged as much when I spoke with him at the time of the logo’s unveiling.
“Minor League Baseball is all about the ‘wow’ factor, and we wanted to go beyond the normal stuff you’d see at the ballpark,” said Cobb, whose name is totally unremarkable. “And we wanted to be the team to do this first, to have a mustache on a hat. Our mascot, he actually has a mustache, so we’re not just hopping on a fad. … We’re going to be easily recognizable when on the road. Fans can just look at the mustache.”
As the Legends hoped, many fans have done more than just look at the mustache. They’ve gone out and bought it. As of today, the team has sold the hat in 45 out of 50 states en route to their goal of “mustache domination.” Or, if you prefer images to words:
For the most part, this is a simple matter of demographics as Alaska, Montana, Maine and Vermont are among the ten least-populated states. But Arkansas? What’s up with that? Nearly three million people live there — including those who are fans of fellow Royals affiliates the Northwest Arkansas Naturals — and yet none have sprung for a hat.
(Perhaps because headwear would only sully their beauty? As I learned last season, Arkansans are nothing if not beautiful. Just scroll through this blog post for proof!)
All of this begs the question — has any team ever sold a particular piece of headwear in all 50 states? Or will the Legends be the first?
Once again it is I, cold and alone, who asks the questions that no one else dares to.
Moving on to other matters, let this be your thrice-monthly reminder that my Promo Preview column runs every Tuesday on MiLB.com. Click HERE to read the latest edition, which is virtually hot off of the virtual presses.
Included within this week’s column is a write-up on Thursday’s “Manager Cell Phone Night” in Omaha, which pays tribute to emerging dugout-to-bullpen communication technologies. Since the column went to (virtual) press, promotions manager Ben Hemmen (the second-best Ben H. working in Minor League Baseball, after
yours truly New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes), sent the following supplemental information. I, for one, love it:
— In honor of all Major League Baseball “Calls to the Bullpen” happening on cell phones this season, the Omaha Storm Chasers are offering anyone who brings in a rotary phone or old cell phone for donation a “buy one box seat, get one box seat for FREE” ticket special.
— All “Calls to the Bullpen” will come with a special surprise from Jirsch [Manager Mike Jirschele]. We will also unveil never before heard or seen manager to manager phone calls, voicemails and texts on the videoboard.
And since you can do everything on a cell phone these days, other exciting offers, deals, competitions, and games will take place at Thursday’s game:
— There will be a Facebook challenge that night for a FREE night at a future game in the Safeco Insurance/ Manager Mike Jirschele Dugout suite.
— If you e-mail the Team Store at the game that night (email@example.com), you will receive a coupon for a special offer.
— A few lucky fans who use twitter on Thirsty Thursday and hashtag #BudLight or #Pepsi to @omastormchasers at the right time will have enjoy a beverage on the house.
— The person who posts the best picture of Manager Mike Jirschele to Instagram will win an autographed Mike Jirschele cell phone.
I was going to end this post with a picture of Mr. Jirschele, but in my quest to find a photo of him I inadvertently stumbled upon this shot of Alice Cooper and Mike Moustakas. Love it to death:
Well hello everybody and how ya been? It’s Ben’s Biz typing on the keyboard again. I’ve got grace, class, style, finesse and debonair. Writing ’bout MiLB promos and hopin’ folks care.
The point of the above Beastie Boy lyric approximation is simply to say that it’s been a while since I was able to kick out a good old-fashioned blog bouillabaisse (and I spelled “bouillabaisse” correctly on the second try, a new record). I’ve still got some odds and ends from my left coast road trip to share, but today will be all about the here and now in addition to what was recently the here and now but is now then.
For starters, TONIGHT is the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ “Tribute to Bacon” featuring an appearance by Kevin Bacon!
This particular Kevin Bacon has never been immortalized in celluloid, however.
Bacon, a Chesterfield County native for more than 35 years, is currently a detective with the Chesterfield County Police Department….He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice.
So that would be just one degree of Kevin Bacon? Perhaps he’ll obtain a Masters one day. Another Flying Squirrels item of note is that this picture of a “superhero Mom” catching a fly ball went viral.
Name a media outlet, and chances are they ran something on this. For background on how it all came to be, check out this Richmond Times-Dispatch story.
The following photos didn’t go viral, but they were sent along to me by the Toledo Mud Hens and are well worth a look. The ol’ “gum on the hat” trick is never not funny. This time around the victim is Michael Restovich of the visiting Charlotte Knights.
Another perennial source of Minor League humor comes in the form of mustaches. One of the most prominent facial follicle initiatives currently taking place is the Delmarva Shorebirds’ “Mustache May.” Members of the team and front office are participating, and fans can donate money toward their favorite.
The current leader is none other than trainer Will Lawhorn.
You’ve got to have good self-esteem to grow a mustache like that, which is something that Hickory Crawdads mascot Conrad is currently lacking.
HICKORY, NC –In response to SI.com writer Peter King’s column on Mon., May 16, in which Conrad the Crawdad’s self-esteem was questioned, the Hickory Crawdads are introducing a brand-new promotion and ticket deal for the rest of the 2011 season – Conrad’s Self-Esteem Wednesdays!
For every Wednesday home game…fans can receive a discounted $4 box seat ticket just by mentioning “Conrad’s self-esteem” at the Ticket Office.
The Crawdads will then donate $2 from every $4 ticket to Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare in support of their ongoing mission to provide behavioral health and support services for those in need in the Unifour community.
I’m sure Conrad will rally from the depths of his despair, something that Akron Aeros fans have become quite adept at doing.
And since I always like to end on a high note, how ’bout these Cedar Rapids troubadours?
Contact me with any kernels of info you may have to disseminate. I’ll be here waiting.
One of the biggest pieces of news from this past offseason was that the city of Pensacola will be hosting a Double-A Southern League team in 2012 (read all about it HERE).
And — surprise! — this team needs a name. Following standard Minor League Baseball operating procedure, a “Name the Team” contest has been devised and today the finalists were announced: Redbones, Loggerheads, Blue Wahoos, Mullets, Aviators, and Salty Dogs.
The Pensacola News Journal, a co-sponsor of the contest, explains: It’s a group of nicknames with ties to the U.S. Navy (Aviators), fishermen (Salty Dogs), Gulf species (Mullet, Blue Wahoo), endangered species (Loggerheads), and hunting dog (Redbone), also the name of a 1970s rock band.
The reference to Redbone being a ’70s rock band seems a little gratuitous, so I’m going to assume that writer Bill Vilona was already a fan. But beyond that this is pretty much par for the course, a consistently irreverent group of choices with ties to local wildlife and industry as well as the parent club (Redbone, natch).
Voting begins tomorrow at the newspaper’s website, and runs through the 15th. The new name will be announced on the 23rd, at which point “a logo, team colors and slogans will be created.”
Not at all surprisingly, Plan B Branding will be doing the creating. The well-established logo and ideas company has been through this identity-creation rigmarole before, with successful and highly-publicized entities such as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Richmond Flying Squirrels, and Omaha Storm Chasers.
And, apropos of nothing, Pensacola Rigmaroles is a pretty cool-sounding name.
Pensacola will become the Southern League’s second Floridian market, joining the Jacksonville Suns. Yesterday, the team sent out a press release drawing attention the exemplary way in which the team utilized its day off.
The Jacksonville Suns spent their travel day on Tuesday helping victims of last Wednesday’s tornados and severe thunderstorms in Pratt City, Ala., just north of Birmingham.
The Suns volunteered at the American Red Cross’ Pratt City Disaster Resource Center at the Scott School just blocks from where tornados damaged countless numbers of homes. Pratt City lost nearly 1,000 homes due to last Wednesday’s tornado damage.
Front Row: Jhan Marinez, Luke Montz, Kevin Mattison. Back row L-R: Joey O’Gara, Dan Jennings, Omar Poveda, Benjamin Todd Jealous of NAACP, Peter Andrelczyk, Corey Madden, and Ryan Curry.
Sometimes the segues come easy, and today is one such day. Check out Kevin Mattison in the bottom right hand corner of that picture — clearly he would be right at home at tonight’s “Mustache Mania” promotion. This celebration of upper lip follicle accumulation has been officially endorsed by the esteemed American Mustache Institute.
And speaking of promos, which I am almost always speaking of, we are fast approaching the time of year in which my inbox is inundated with YOUR promo recaps, pictures, and videos. My livelihood depends on just this.
“So many blog topics, so little time” is shaping up to be a pretty good tombstone epitaph for yours truly. But as long as I’m residing in the land of the living, Sisyphean struggles to mitigate the content glut will continue unabated. So here ya go: a random array of Minor League pictures and videos.
Let’s start with the scene in Reading this past Tuesday. Despite a bit of controversy, the R-Phils’ fan base proffered a heartily enthusiastic response to the evening’s “Ryan Howard Garden Gnome” giveaway.
The line outside of FirstEnergy Stadium, before the gates opened.
The gnomes, awaiting distribution:
Moving on from beards to the mustache, the Everett Aquasox pitching staff recently dedicated themselves to the fervent cultivation of upper lip hair. The results, in extreme close-up:
Another recent event of note in the Pacific Northwest was the pitcher’s mound wedding of hurler Corey Davisson. Read all about it HERE. (warning:adorable photos contained therein).
Less adorable, but more hilarious, are Class A baseball players dancing with surprising sincerity to the Clinton era’s pre-eminent boy band. This masterpiece was the highlight of the Peoria Chiefs’ recent “90s Night” promotion:
While this was the lowlight:
A pop culture celebration of more recent vintage recently occurred in Lexington, as the Legends staged a “Jersey Shore Night” promotion. The beat got beat up:
But after the beat-up comes the beatdown. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan visited Hickory recently, where he did all he could to make sure that Conrad didn’t win the mascot race. A truly brilliant snapshot, this is:
But even Hacksaw wouldn’t be able to stop the menagerie of characters that grace the cover of the Toledo Mud Hens upcoming comic book giveaway (scheduled for August 12). This is, truly, a work of art:
Or is there?
More often than not, “More is More” is a superior promotional philosophy. That was certainly the angle taken by the Trenton Thunder during last month’s “Weird Contest Week”, as the club staged off-kilter competitions over three consecutive ballgames and marketed it as a 72-hour exercise in absurdity.
Tuesday, August 18 was “Mustache Night”, featuring free admission for those with upper lip hair. The facial hair of prominent New York Yankees was celebrated throughout the ballgame, and a “best mustache” contest was staged as well.
The winner of what must have been a heated competition was Mr. Andy Aupperle, who sported an angular look of style and precision:
Is it just me, or does Aupperle look like a better-groomed version of Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton?
It’s okay…you can say it’s just me.
Meanwhile, other fans extended the definition of mustache to include both “pasted-on words” and “discarded dreadlock”. And by “other fans” I mean “this particular family”:
The Thunder have 44 photos from this evening posted on their webpage. While this one doesn’t have anything to do with mustaches, I still feel compelled to share it:
I believe that the top and bottom layers of that sandwich contain pork roll. I am a fan of pork roll, on levels both edible and anthropomorphic.
At any rate, the above fan would have been more at home during part II of “Weird Contest Week”, as the team staged a hot-dog eating contest. Observe this well-crafted short film:
Congratulations to winner Chad Heidel, who is employed by the team as a group sales account representative. As one can see from the video, Heidel’s victory resulted in instant celebrity status. Currently, “Chad Heidel” is surpassed only by “Kanye West”, “Patrick Swayze”, and “Tom Brady Sux” when it comes to the most common internet search engine queries.
Meanwhile, I find the nonchalance of this hot dog disturbing. He is overseeing the massacre of his own kind:
The third and final “Weird Contest” was August 20th’s “Rock, Paper, Scissors” competition.
It was the gentleman above who emerged triumphant, a gentleman who goes by the name of Tim Ukaj (I’m going to go ahead and assume that his theme song is “We Will ‘Rock’ You”). Here, Mr. Ukaj basks in the glow of victory:
That trophy doesn’t appear to have anything to do with “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, but there may be some subtle details that my all-too-human eyes are unable to discern.
Either way, I like that the Thunder took three common Minor League promos and bundled them together in order to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Hopefully other teams will build on this concept, so that one day we may be blessed with “Weird Contest Month”, “Weird Contest Year”, and, finally, “Weird Contest Entirety of Existence.”
More is more.
But the Silver Hawks’ promotion was merely representative of a larger trend, as mustache celebrations were all the rage in the Minor Leagues this season. And, like mustaches themselves, each of these promotions was unique in its own way.
On August 22nd, the Tulsa Drillers held their own Mustache Awareness Night, and it was a doozy. There was a lot of build-up prior to this extravaganza. The entire front office staff grew mustaches, and the club conducted a poll on its web site, asking fans to vote on the best celebrity mustache of all time.
And then the big day arrived. Drillers promotions assistant Michael Taranto (who also provided the following pictures) reports that “this night coincided with Margaritaville Weekend, so as you can imagine it was funny to see people’s faces as they came to the game and received a fake mustache along with a Hawaiian lei.”
Of course, any mustache promotion worth its salt gets the players involved. Here’s an exclusive dugout shot of some uberstylish Drillers:
Keep the photos coming! Send pictures from Minor League promotions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week, I wrote an article on South Bend’s “Josh Collmenter Mustache Awareness Night”. This fine piece of probing investigative journalism ran in conjunction with my weekly “Promotion Preview” column, and was bolstered even further by a meticulously curated photo gallery of prominent Minor League mustaches as well as a fan poll.
I cannot take credit for the latter two features, as putting together such a wide array of mustache-related content was a team effort that involved many of MiLB.com’s greatest minds. But that is neither here nor there. What is “here” is that Josh Collmenter Mustache Night occurred last Wednesday, and I would like to provide a brief recap of this evening of sartorial splendor.
Silver Hawks’ director of sales and marketing Amy Hill reports that the event was “fantastic”, and that there was “perfect weather, a great crowd, and plenty of mustaches.” The promotion drew a reporter from a local television station, who provided the following coverage (scroll down a bit and click on “Watch the Video”)
A wide array of Silver Hawks players participated in a pre-game “best mustache” contest, and the winner was Derrick Walker. Unfortunately, I do not have an up-to-date photo of the 22-year-old right fielder. I imagine that his mustache has improved somewhat since this MiLB.com file photo was taken: