Like Crystal Pepsi, the Dodo Bird and civilized political discourse, the Omaha Royals are no longer.
Storm Chasers emerged as the winner of a “Name the Team” contest that received 1500 entries (where fore art thou, Omahogs?), and was announced on Monday evening. The name pays homage to Omaha’s standing as the extreme weather capital of the country, and gives the club a plethora of branding opportunities as they prepare for their inaugural season at Werner Park (a team store called the “Storm Shelter”, for example).
While mascot Casey the Lion will remain, he is being joined by two weather-related costumed characters.
Stormy doesn’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows. He’s anemometer-ically correct:
The home and road unis, for your viewing pleasure.
But when you get right down to it, isn’t all publicity good publicity? And what many of those criticizing fail to understand is that this is how Minor League Baseball operates nowadays. It’s entertainment first and foremost, and eye-catching family-friendly logos distinct from the parent club lead to innumerable branding opportunities and generate far more merchandising revenue.
It was just one year ago, for example, that the Richmond Flying Squirrels were getting battered mercilessly for their “bush league” name and logo. But once fans saw how the re-branding fit into a larger entertainment context they hopped right on board, and the club currently leads all of Minor League Baseball in merch sales.
Whether a similar story plays out in Omaha remains to be seen, and of course everyone is entitled to their opinion regarding “weather” or not this is a good idea. But recent history (not just in Richmond, but across the Minor League landscape) is on the side of the Storm Chasers.
What do you think?
As the previous two posts would indicate, it’s been a big week for logos here in the world of Minor League Baseball. And there’s more where that came from — the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are unveiling new marks tomorrow, and the Omaha Royals are announcing the results of their “Name That Team” contest on Monday evening.
So, before getting swept away in yet another logo deluge, let me dedicate this post to other news and notes from the world of the Minors.
I’ll start by talking about — Me! The latest MLBlogs rankings were announced yesterday, and “Ben’s Biz” is at #12 in the “Pro” category. Thanks for your support! Also on the list is my colleague Jonathan Mayo, an expert when it comes to prospects, the MLB draft, and player development in general. Check out his “Big, Bald, and Beautiful” blog, and follow him on Twitter (@JonathanMayoB3). Together we represent the yin and yang of the Minor League experience.
Jeez, this paragraph marks four straight without a new logo. I’ll rectify that right now, as the aforementioned Omaha Royals announced today that their still-under-construction Sarpy County home will go by the name of Werner Park.
As the logo would imply, Werner is a “global logistics company”. But they’re based in Omaha, hence their naming rights deal with the Royals.
Moving on from “that which has just been given a name” to “that which still needs a name”, I would like to note that the Jackson Generals mascot is in search of an appropriate moniker.
But nothing entrances like the soothing glow of the small screen. On Saturday the MLB Network is airing a program that was filmed at Alliant Energy Field, home of the Clinton LumberKings. It’s called “Triumph and Tragedy: the 1919 Chicago White Sox”.
And, hey, remember last week when I wrote about the Toledo Mud Hens customized Firefox browser? I thought it might have been a Minor League first, but as is so often the case I was wrong. The Durham Bulls had one first.
Anyone want to send me an email letting me know that they did this before the Bulls? I’ll correct myself until the cows come home.
I’ll call this Quick Hits! Surely no one in the history of blogging has ever done such a thing before.
(Note: Quick Hits! is a trademark of BensBizBlogCo LLC, 2010 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Avenged)
Quick Hit! #1 — New Column Begins!
Last week marked the first edition of “Offseasoning”, an MiLB.com feature chronicling the offseason lives of Minor League players. The inaugural column focused on right-hander Terry Doyle, whose non-baseball job is a relatively common one: substitute teacher. If YOU are (or are aware of) a player engaged in an interesting offseason endeavor then by all means get in touch.
Quick Hit! #2 — Comic Strip Returns!
The Altoona Curve found great success last year with their “Curve, PA” comic strip, which ran in the local Altoona Mirror. This unique marketing tool will be featured on the team’s Facebook page during the offseason, starting today. The strip featured today would have been far creepier had it explored the concept of a “trophy wife.”
Quick Hit! #3 — Ticket Package Offered!
The Charleston RiverDogs are a Yankees affiliate, but today they revealed a ticket package designed to appeal to the Braves fans in their midst. It’s called “Braves Rome to Charleston,” and includes “two tickets to the nearly-sold out 7th Annual Hot Stove Banquet on Jan. 28 that features recently-retired Braves’ skipper Bobby Cox…In addition, the RiverDogs will throw in two lower level box seat tickets to either the Sat., April 16 game or Sat., June 4 contest against the Rome Braves.”
The Omaha Royals played their last game at Rosenblatt Stadium this season, truly the end of an era. But Rosenblatt lives on at Cooperstown, as the Baseball Hall of Fame is currently displaying mementos from the final contest. Here’s a picture that includes Rosenblatt’s home plate (more pictures can be found on the the O-Royals’ Facebook page):
Quick Hit! #5 — Vacation Awarded!
For the 21st consecutive year, the Pawtucket Red Sox have provided a pair of local Boys and Girls Club members with an all-expenses paid trip to the World Series.The winners, selected in August, received tickets to Games 3-5 in in Arlington as well as yesterday’s Cowboys game.
Quick Hit! #6 — Teams Ranked!
According to a new study released by sportsfangraphs.com, the Toledo Mud Hens lead all of Minor League Baseball in combined Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Check out the Mud Hens’ release HERE, and the full list HERE.
Quick Hit! #7 — Countdown Continues!
As noted in Friday’s blog, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are releasing a series of videos in anticipation of the team’s November 12 logo unveiling. I particularly enjoyed yesterday’s Halloween video:
Quick Hit! #8 — Baseball Songs Sung!
If you like music and you like baseball, then chances are that you like songs about baseball. If so, you might want to check out “The Greatest Game in the World” by The Thrill Building. This power pop paean to our national pastime features 22 songs over 80 minutes, providing the sort of fuel necessary to make it through the offseason.
Speaking of fuel, let me know what’s going on. I am, once again, out of material.
We’re in the homestretch now.
The four finalists in MiLB.com’s “Promo of the Year” voting have been determined. They are:
Best Giveaway: Lancaster JetHawks — Robert “Hoot” Gibson bobblehead
Best Celebrity Appearance: Arkansas Travelers — Jose Canseco (vs. Gary Hogan in pre-game boxing match)
Best “Miscellaneous” Promotion: Birmingham Barons — Rickwood Classic
Best Theme Night: Fresno Grizzlies — Twilight Night
Congratulations to the above quartet – you are all winners. But the ultimate winner is yet to be determined! Vote HERE to decide the be-all, end-all Minor League Promotion of the Year. Voting runs through 10 am ET on Wednesday, October 12.
And that’ll be it — promise!
But that won’t be it for this blog post. I’ve got content, and I hope you’ll be content with it.
— First things first, the entity currently known as the Omaha Royals have announced the nine
finalists in their “Name the Team” contest. Those who like names that evoke weather and/or cattle and/or Star Wars will be well pleased, as the choices are Cattlemen, Commanders, Force, Hailstorm, Omahogs, Royals, Sodbusters, Stormchasers, and Windwalkers.
I have gone on the record before on this topic, and will do so again: My favorite is “Omahogs.” Not only is this moniker an efficient combination of nickname and place, but it also a nod to Omaha’s past. Between 1885-1901, the city intermittently fielded a Western League club called “The Omahogs.” The 1885 club went 4-24 before folding, replaced in the circuit by a Keokuk Hawkeyes team that included Bud Fowler (one of my all-time baseball heroes).
— Another recent announcement of note emanates from Greensboro, who announced their “Guarantee to Give” playoff pledge. If the team makes it to the postseason in 2011, then $100,000 (!) will be distributed among 20 charities. More info can be found HERE.
— But right now, the 2011 postseason seems so far away. Somewhat closer is Opening Day, which will be especially notable in Toledo. The Mud Hens have announced that their April 14 opener at Fifth Third Field will be a doubleheader, consisting of a pair of seven-inning contests. What an excellent way to say “hello” to the new season, and all the promise contained therein.
I hope the above information met or exceeded your desire and capacity for Minor League news on a Wednesday afternoon in early October. Please let me know either way.
I attended the final game in the history of 62-year-old Rosenblatt Stadium tonight, in which the Omaha Royals defeated the visiting Round Rock Express by a score of 6-2 in front of an announced crowd of 23, 795 (!)
As a strong proponent of making the figurative literal, I’ll lead with this pic of the sun setting on Rosenblatt:
It was an emotional evening, one punctuated by celebrity guests, commemorative giveaways, and, of course, fireworks.
But you know what I’ll probably remember most? That I attended this game wearing mud-caked, soaking wet sneakers. This was the residual effect of previously having visited the construction site of the O-Royals future home, located amidst the cornfields of nearby Sarpy County.
Trust me, it was gloppy as-all-get-out over there. The pictures don’t do it justice, but for the rest of the day I was like “call me Alowishus Devadander Abercrombie” because, you know, that’s long for mud.
But that’s enough about Claypools. I received a tour of the new facility from project engineer Michael Keller, who is overseeing construction on behalf of general contractor Weitz (there will be an article about all of this up on MiLB.com shortly, so please forgive the relative lack of detail).
The bleachers are the only seating areas that have been installed as of yet. That’s “Building Nine” behind the bleachers, which will include the home and visiting clubhouses.
I truly am intrigued by the unorthodox clubhouse placement, but I’m including this second pic of building nine primarily to show how muddy it was.
The view from the outfield:
Seats and Suites:
But the coolest thing of all was this mound of red dirt, just waiting to be applied to the warning track:
Soon it was time to depart this Martian landscape, in favor of the festivities going on at Rosenblatt. I got to the ballpark two and a half hours before gametime, and already there were hordes of people lined up outside of the stadium.
Please, keep any and all risque inflatable mascot comments to yourself:
One of the reasons I got to the ballpark so early was to interview some of the illustrious special guests. After getting past the armed guard at the North Pavilion, I was able to speak with Frank White, Willie Wilson, Dennis Leonard, and Paul Splittorff.
Footage of these interviews (and the festivities in general) will hopefully surface at some point in the near future. For now, here’s a shot of Leonard, Splittorff, and Wilson on the field prior to the ballgame:
More distinguished alums:
Meanwhile, the stadium was filling up fast. Rosenblatt’s seating area is very accommodating to large groups of fans. The concourse, not so much.
And, last game ever or not, it was above all a Thirsty Thursday. The beer lines were rob
On account of also hosting the College World Series, Rosenblatt boasts a comically large capacity for a Minor League park. What other team would be able to sell this kind of signage?
Scenes from ’round the Blatt:
Rosenblatt’s last ever Dizzy Bat Race:
Mascots in the Press Box, which was coincidentally the name of a post-rock band I formed back in my college days:
Long-time groundskeeper Jesse Cuevas addressed the crowd in a moving post-game speech, holding back tears while chanting “Viva La Rosenblatt!”
This set the stage for Steve Rosenblatt, son of stadium namesake and former mayor Johnny. Armed with a personalized Louisville slugger, the septuagenarian said goodbye to Rosenblatt with a ceremonial last hit (pitching was none other Tom Kelly, left, whose grandfather took the mound in the first-ever game at Rosenblatt).
And that was that for Rosenblatt. Eventually, the facility will be demolished and the land will be used by the nearby Henry Doorly Zoo.
Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset…
To the itinerary!
9/2 — Omaha Royals (their last-ever game in Rosenblatt Stadium!)
9/3 — Iowa Cubs
9/4 — Burlington Bees
9/5 — Quad Cities River Bandits
9/6 — Kane County Cougars
Feel free to get in touch with any content suggestions or inside tips regarding the teams/cities in question. And if you’ll be at any of these games, please say hello. As always, I’ll be the guy in the shirt.
And not only will tomorrow be the Omaha Royals’ last game at Rosenblatt Stadium — it may be their last home game as the “Omaha Royals.” In conjunction with their 2011 move to nearby Sarpy County, the organization is currently staging a “Name the Team” contest. Over 400 names have been suggested thus far, let’s go to the press release:
Names relating to the weather and to the military have been leading the way so far. Some of those suggestions include Storm, Hail, Heat, Blizzard, Twisters, Bombers and Commanders. Some fans have just tweaked the name to vary slightly from Royals, suggesting Monarchs and Kings. Other fans, no doubt sad to see the demise of Rosenblatt Stadium following the 2010 season, have submitted the team name Blatts for
I would like to suggest a return to the moniker employed by the city’s long-defunct Western Association franchise: the Omahogs.
And while I am excited to be visiting the Iowa Cubs on September 3, I’m disappointed that I will not be in attendance for September 5’s giveaway: the Player to Be Named Later Bobblehead.
Finally, one of the sport’s most unsung characters gets his due:
A parody video in which a G-Funk classic is repurposed as a celebration of a California League baseball team. It’s Bo’z N Da Hood with “Nothin But A Storm Thang”:
The lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” are incorporated into one of the verses in the above video, but for a truly unique interpretation check out this adorable dispatch from Lansing.
It’s a good thing that Ryan was in Lansing and not West Michigan, because he would probably have been terrified by first pitch honoree Ronald McDonald:
(photo credit: Emily Jones)
Sweet dreams! I’ll be sending out dispatches from the Midwest as soon as I can.
The West Michigan Whitecaps staged the first “Star Wars Night” in 2007, and since then the promotion has spread throughout the Minor League galaxy. And for good reason — it brings large groups of hardcore sci-fi enthusiasts to the ballpark (many who would not attend a game otherwise) while still remaining plenty accessible to the average fan.
The Omaha Royals staged their own version of “Star Wars Night” on Friday, significantly upping Midwest midichlorian levels. Thanks to my unceasing reportorial drive (read: ability to receive emails) I am now able to share some pictures and video.
Here, the evening’s roster of special guests make their way onto the field:
But first, Darth was tasked with throwing out the first pitch. The O-Royals player tasked with catching it was pitcher Louis Coleman, who must have felt light years away from Kansas City at that particular moment.
Another first pitch was tossed by Phil, who was there on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His wish was to attend National Star Wars Convention in Orlando, and the O-Royals’ promo doubled as a special send-off.
Soon after the first pitch, a most unexpected announcement appeared on the videoboard.
And sure enough, Jason the stormtrooper was down on one knee:
The rest of the evening was perhaps not quite so dramatic, but there was nonetheless a lot going on.
Makin’ Wookiee on the Scoreboard:
A “Where’s Yoda” contest was staged, featuring the renowned Jedi master in a variety of ballpark locations:
Leia and Han go back-to-back:
There were no back-to-back home runs in the ballgame, but Portland’s Sean “Chewbacca” Kazmar (see above) did honor Han with a Solo shot in the third.
Thanks to O-Royals director of creative services Eldon Lindsay for sending the pictures along. If YOU have photos of a Minor League promotion then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Or, just make like the Lake County Captains and assert your promotional supremacy over the stadium PA:
If you disagree with this assertion, then you know where to find me.
Last week the Omaha Royals utilized the amusing headline of “Korn, Dogs on Tap” in order to promote a night at the ballpark that included cheap frankfurters and a commemorative first pitch by Korn lead singer Jonathan Davis.
The nu-metal impresario did indeed stop by Rosenblatt Stadium yesterday, in advance of that evening’s Korn concert. Here is he throwing out the first pitch, looking for all the world like David Cross in a wig:
Davis posing with 0-Royals GM Martie Cordaro, who enjoyed a stint as Drowning Pool’s bass player before embarking on a career within Minor League Baseball (note: not true). Separated at birth?
In the 0-Royals locker room, Davis showed off the team-autographed bat that was presented to him:
noted in an email that the team “normally doesn’t serve corn dogs
through our concessions. But tonight we actually had foot-long corn
dogs…Coincidence? I think not.”)
Moving on from nu-metal to nu-writing, I would like to make it known that a fresh edition of “Promotion Preview” is now available. Contained therein is some info on the Bowling Green Hot Rods’ “Super-Mega-Prize-A-Thon”, which is taking place on May 30. This is easily the most impressive Thon since Dickie, as throughout the evening fans will have the opportunity to win the following items. Take it away, press release:
– A wedding band featuring 11 Melee diamonds compliments of Morris
– Hissing cockroaches (with feeding instructions) and a Quarterly
Exterior Service thanks to Action Pest Control
– A free night’s stay in the Ambassador Jacuzzi Suite at Baymont Inn
– A prize pack from the National Corvette Museum including a family
– Free haircuts, hair care products, and two ticket vouchers to the
Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
– A Mickey Mantle replica jersey compliments of Grubbmasters Card Shop
– Four family packs to Dinosaur World
– 467 Hershey’s Kisses compliments of Koch Air, sponsor of the Hot Rods
– 100 Kentucky State Fair pins
– A Fulmer Full-Face, DOT-approved motorcycle helmet (valued at $179.95)
courtesy of Lost River Power Sports
– A dozen golf balls thanks to Junior Achievement
– An American flag courtesy of Modern Woodmen of America
– Books, t-shirts and coolers compliments of Baseball America
– Assorted sporting goods, including an NBA basketball, football,
volleyball, and two baseball gloves, thanks to Spalding and Russell
– 12 seat cushions courtesy of Bowling Green Independent Schools
– Bookmarks thanks to the Law Firm of Flora Templeton Stuart
– A set of crutches compliments of Western Kentucky Orthopaedic &
– Grocery prize packs from Houchens Markets and Crossroads IGA including
bath tissue, dog treats, cleaning products, and a jumbo bag of suckers
– 100 packets of Biofreeze from Body Works Chiropractic
– 250 popsicles from Purity (all to one recipient; winner cannot use
– Gift certificates to SUBWAY®, Olive Garden, Spa Fabulous, and other
Bowling Green area businesses
“Super-Mega-Prize-A-Thon” is the highlight of what is shaping up to be a very impressive homestand in Bowling Green. The club is giving away team logo skateboard decks on May 31st, and “community affairs dude” Kyle Hanrahan will camp at the ballpark throughout the 13-day stand in order to raise money and awareness for The Hospitality House charity.
In closing, I just want to note that one of the prizes the Hot Rods are giving away on May 30th is indeed “Hissing Cockroaches with Feeding Instructions.” This, I believe, is a first.
I was going to forgo doing a blog post today, but my nationwide network of informants will simply not let me rest. Two pictures have recently landed in my inbox that need to be shared immediately, each of which prominently feature tattoos.
The Stockton Ports held a two-day tribute to hometown hero (and team alumnus) Dallas Braden over the weekend, in order to properly honor his recent perfect game accomplishment. Braden took part in a pre-game ceremony on Saturday, during which he proudly lifted his shirt in order to display his undying affinity for Stockton’s area code:
(photo credit: George Steckler/Stockton Ports)
The Ports gave away a commemorative perfect game poster the following afternoon, one which prominently featured “209” despite Braden’s abdomen remaining concealed beneath several layers of restrictive clothing:
Meanwhile, in Omaha, a fan participating in an on-field contest during a Royals game was discovered to have one of the most deeply ridiculous tattoos of all time:
(photo by O-Royals asst. GM Rob Crain, thanks to Seamus Gallivan for the heads-up)
As it turns out, the gentleman featured above runs an exceedingly detailed website: TecmoBowl vs. RBI. The site’s homepage includes the following slogan, one that quite easily serves as a metaphor for life: We don’t reminisce like others do, we just keep playing!
Meanwhile, it seems likely that more tattoo brilliance will be seen in Omaha this week: Thursday’s promotion is “Jersey Shore Night.”
I would close by saying, “Tat’s All, Folks”, but believe it or not I’ve already used that line.
Craig Sager, “America’s Sideline Reporter”, has developed a well-earned reputation as the loudest, tackiest dresser in all of televised sports journalism:
Sager made many professional pit stops along the way to suit jacket-based national recognition, one of which was Fort Myers, FL (in the 70s, he was a sportscaster for a station with the excellent call letters of WINK).
The esteemed reporter’s Fort Myers connection was all the motivation the hometown Miracle needed to stage a promotion in his honor, as Tuesday was “Dress Like Craig Sager Night” at Hammond Stadium.
Meanwhile, I haven’t seen a pink mic this big since Mr. Golic participated in a breast cancer awareness promotion:
The rock group Korn will be playing a sold-out concert at Sokol
Auditorium on the night of Monday, May 24th. Before the show, the
group’s lead singer, Jonathan Davis, will throw out a ceremonial first
pitch prior to the Omaha Royals 6:35 p.m. game vs. the Colorado Springs
Sky Sox at Rosenblatt Stadium….Monday night’s game is also $1 hot dog night