To say I’m overwhelmed these days would be an understatement. I still have all kinds of supplemental material from my recent OKARMOTN road trip, and in addition to that I recently traveled to Lowell to document a world record attempt and attend a Spinners game. I hope to embark on another one-off trip next week, and I also need to finish planning a larger excursion in August. And, of course, there was the recent celiac disease blog post, which has gotten a ton of responses (via comments, Twitter, and email) that I have yet to address. (I appreciate them all, and will respond!)
And, what? It’s July already? I’ll write a new Crooked Numbers column as soon as I can, promise!
As usual, I’m talking almost entirely to myself. I’m tired of that guy, but he’s all I’ve got. But, for you, it’s time to go back to the roots with a quick blog bouillabaisse! So what, of note, has been going on around the Minors?
Too much! Here’s a tiny bit.
Last month, the Connecticut Tigers kicked off their season in the most literal way possible. To the photograph!
This was a “ceremonial first kick,” one that reportedly fell atop the plate for a perfect strike. Tigers director of community relations Dave Schermerhorn explains:
This is Dave Teggart, who was a four year stud kicker at UConn (School all-time leader in points, field goals in a career, and field goals in a season). He was then one of our interns during the 2011 season.
Recently, he attended Rookie Mini Camp for the Bears and was signed to a contract to attend training camp with the team.
So what do you know? The New York-Penn League had not one but TWO collegiate gridiron stars turned interns last season. The other was Penn State receiver Derek Moye, who I have already written about HERE.
Moye in action:
You also may be wondering why there was a submarine looming behind Teggart in the first kick photograph. Again, I’ll defer to Schermerhorn (who shares his surname with one-half of a widely-used Brooklyn subway stop):
General Dynamics Electric Boat is just about 20 min away and one of our largest sponsors. [S]taff members ride in the sub pregame to throw t-shirts to the crowd. We have a large military presence in the area with the Coast Guard Academy and U.S. submarine base within the same radius.
It is for these reasons that Connecticut’s previous Minor League franchise was known as the “Defenders,” and, prior to that, the Norwich Navigators.
Why am I always going off on tangents? One of these days I’m going to segue from “tangents” into something involving “tan gents,” but that day is not today. Instead, I’ll share a video from the Lake County Captains’ “Cleveland Sports History” promotion, which was held in June.
One of the Cleveland moments celebrated was Armando Galarraga’s 2011 perfect game that wasn’t (the Indians were the opponent in that contest). It’s not the best video quality, but hats off to the Captains for having the courage and creativity to consistently create crazy conceptual promos:
And, hey, If I’m posting YouTube videos then there’s no way this can be ignored! Ricky from Bordentown wipes out not once, but twice, during a most unique between-inning contest in Trenton.
On your mark! Get set! Change that diaper!
Classic. And I’ve got PLENTY more where that came from.
Like any self-obsessed writer, I regularly check to see what websites have recently linked to my blog. Most of the time it’s random message board posters with an affinity for giant hamburgers, but occasionally the results are more interesting.
For example, last week I received several dozen hits from a high school teacher’s sports marketing blog. He asked his students to read my recent post on the Lowell Spinners’ “Human Home Run” stunt, and then write a two paragraph response explaining their thoughts on Minor League promotions as well as what sort of promotions they themselves would stage if put in a position to do so. The students’ answers, in the comments section, were not always feasible but certainly creative. A sampling:
I would bring a monster truck to my stadium/arena and it would go flying off a ramp. It would have to jump 6 school buses lined up next to each other. There would also be a huge ring of fire right in front of the ramp to make everything look crazy. The monster truck would have my team’s logo on it. It would be crazy and the place would be sold out.
Seeing that people will pay to watch risky situations. I would promote a pet skydiving. I would let dogs/cats land in the middle of the field before the game. This will honor animal abuse and will also bring fans to the stadium.
My idea would be to have player vs fan game. When the fans buy a ticket for the game they have a chance to enter contests. Then the fans will be picked at random to play a mini game with the players. I think if you give the players a chance to interact with the players it will attract more people.
I think it’s great that teachers are introducing such sports marketing concepts to high school students, as it could potentially get them interested in a Minor League Baseball career. To any high school teachers or college professors who read this blog — I will gladly assist your educational endeavors. Get in touch anytime.
And even more beneficial would be for teams to get involved. Wouldn’t it be great to invite students to the ballpark to take part in the conception and execution of a Minor League promo? While animal skydiving is probably not going to happen any time soon, it would be very interesting to see students’ ideas incorporated into gameday entertainment.
Just a thought. I’ve been known to have those once in a while.
And young promo progenitors would be more likely to come up with social media innovations, such as the Bowling Green Hot Rods’ Facebook Fan Night. This first-of-its kind promo is rolling right along — Facebook fans have selected the game time (6:35) and are now in the midst of picking the uniforms the team will wear that night.
This is because baseball, quite inconsiderately, doesn’t take a day off. So while I was on the road cranking out articles, blog posts, Promo Preview columns, and frivolous contest introductions, the emails kept coming in alerting me to items that may be worthy of coverage.
Allow me to now present to you, the reader, some of these items. I’ll start with the most narcissistic, a 42-second video commemorating my stint as “The Apprentice…Of the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.“
With that out of the way, let’s proceed to last night’s promotion in Akron. The Aeros held “Ship Out LeBron Night”, in which fans were asked to donate unwanted LeBron James apparel in exchange for free tickets.
As you can see, quite a few fans took the team up on its offer. As soon as Orbit is done playing around, these items will be donated to an international relief organization.
Another thing you don’t see every day is 3,692 people popping bubble wrap at the same time. It makes a sound quite similar to dessicated locust husks bouncing off the roof of a station wagon.
As part of the promotion, the Spinners rolled out the “Bubblewrap Dance Floor.” To celebrate 50 years of bubblewrap, 50-year-olds were invited onto the field to dance to 50 cent.
An even more Rainman-esque aspect of the promotion was that the 50th fan in attendance would get a year’s supply of popcorn if the 50th out of the game occurred via pop out. It did, and one lucky fan took home a vast collection of kernels (Spinners media relations director Jon Boswell writes that, keeping in the spirit of the promotion, “He’ll have to do the popping himself!”)
Torii Hunter Bobble-Arm in Orem
Skipper Leg Lamp in Lake County
I wish that the above item was being given away as part of a “Salute to Hallucinogenic Fever Dreams” promo, but there’s actually a story behind it. See, the Captains are staging “Christmas In July”, and “A Christmas Story” was filmed in nearby Cleveland. Hence, a giveaway featuring a Minor League twist on one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
And speaking of the Captains, you may recall that one of the team’s biggest fans comes to nearly every game dressed like Waldo. Recently, this horizontally-striped standout took his act to Cleveland:
Certainly a Waldo this ambitious is worthy of your Facebook fandom. Perhaps I can even score an exclusive interview one of these days.
This year’s contest is shaping up to be the best yet, as teams have mounted homegrown promotional campaigns in support of their players. Here’s one of the best efforts I’ve seen thus far:
Finally, you may have noticed that the Charleston RiverDogs and Hickory Crawdads have recently been the recipients o
f some big-time exposure:
Perhaps I’ll receive some big-time exposure one of these days. Until then, I’ll be staring at a computer screen in search of a clever closing sentence that never comes.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked my vast cadre of loyal readers to assist me in a most important task — the creation of a new blog head shot.
The response to this request was robust, which I very much appreciate. Still, I have put off sharing the submissions because I am wary of seeming narcissistic. Usually, I hide this off-putting trait beneath a cloud of false modesty and groan-inducing wordplay.
But the moment for action is now. What follows are some of the new profile pics I now have at my disposal.
Boomer and Me — Spending some quality time with the Williamsport Crosscutters’ inimitable mascot:
A Classic Updated for Modern Times
On My Way to the Barber Pole Factory
It Was Just A Phase
You Can Do What You Wanna Do…
I plan on using all of these headshots — and more — throughout the season. But, starting tomorrow, my identity will be this:
What can I say? To see my face juxtaposed onto a Weird Al album cover is a dream come true.
Thanks to Chris McConney of the Reading Phillies for the Weird Al shot, also big thanks to:
Sarah Budd, Williamsport Cross
cutters (shots 1-2), Danny Wild, MiLB photo guru (3-5), Lauren Wombacher, Yakima Bears (6-7 and snowglobe), Cameron Wengrzyn, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (8-13), Jake Goldman, Astoria Astroplaneteers (14), Allison Moore, Greensboro Grasshoppers (15), and Robert Peters (16).
Feel free to keep sending ’em and thanks again. I really appreciate it.
Despite my compulsive tendency toward self-deprecation, I am, like most human beings, exceedingly narcissistic. So when the Kannapolis Intimidators recently put together a blog post entitled “Hey Ben Hill“, I couldn’t help but be intrigued.
Here’s how the post begins:
Hey Ben Hill!
Is this a shameless cry for attention? Here at the Kannapolis Intimidators, we just want to feel loved.
feel like David Letterman, when he tried tirelessly to have the great
Oprah on his show, but we would love to have Ben Hill of Ben’s Biz
Blog to mention us on his blog, or better yet, visit us in Kannapolis!
Well, Intimidators, consider yourselves mentioned. And I would like to visit, but first I must ensure that you are able to meet my exacting travel specifications. I’ll have my business manager fax over a copy of my rider and we can proceed from there.
But for now, I’ll spend some time writing about the first-rate organization that is the Kannapolis Intimidators — the only team in Minor
League Baseball named after a race car driver. Dale “The
Intimidator” Earnhardt purchased a
stake in the team in 2000, one year before his tragic death in the 2001 Daytona 500.
In the Intimidator’s “Hey Ben Hill” blog post, they helpfully provided me with a couple of topics to write about:
The Build-A-Burger Contest: Have you ever wanted to create your own sandwich and have it named
after you? Well, the Kannapolis Intimidators are giving you that chance
with their Build-A-Burger Contest! Fans will be allowed to submit their
ideas for a new hamburger or cheeseburger with the winning entry being
put on the menu of the Double Play Café for the 2010 season at
Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium. The winner will also receive a prize
package, in-game recognition and 70 games of bragging rights.
My suggestion is the Ben’s Biz Burger: a 1/4 pound of ground beef topped with a fried egg, monterey jack cheese, cole slaw, bacon, fried onions, and jalapenos. Does that sound good? It was an exercise in free association, but now I kind of want one.
Comical Videos: Count the Intimidators as one of many teams that have recently tried their hand at humorous offseason videos. YouTube will never be the same.
So let this be a lesson to all teams: I am a weak man, and easily bribed.