During the 2012 season, the Orem Owlz became the first Minor League team to welcome Larry “Soup Nazi” Thomas to the ballpark for a promotional appearance.
Then, the following season, the Owlz gave away 5000 pairs of team-logo sunglasses as part of a “most people wearing sunglasses at night” world record attempt. (The blue balls were part of a different promotion. Please ignore the blue balls).
These two promotional endeavors, different as they may seem, have one thing in common. This:
108 Stitches is a low-budget baseball comedy, executive produced by Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky and produced and co-written by his son, Jake. A raunchy and ramshackle underdog sports comedy (think Major League or Animal House), 108 Stitches involves the exploits of a fictional Orem-based collegiate baseball team. The players wear the uniforms of the real-life Orem Owlz (Class A Short Season affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels), and the baseball scenes are shot at the so-called “Home of the Owlz,” located on the campus of Utah Valley University.
The above fictional squad is coached by one Scott Deshields (esteemed character actor Bruce Davison); meanwhile, assistant coach Kassem Bosco is played by — wait for it — Larry “Soup Nazi” Thomas. So that’s why he was in Orem in the first place!
The movie also features cameos from Owlz mascots Hootz and Holly, but unfortunately does not reference Holly’s 2012 pregnancy announcement.
Speaking of procreation, Roger Clemens has declared, somewhat incomprehensibly, that “If Animal House, Bull Durham and Major League had a threesome, 108 Stitches would be its kid.” Also, somewhat incomprehensibly, Clemens has a cameo late in the film. Here’s the trailer, which features Clemens, Hootz, Holly, the Soup Nazi, 3D Glasses and, of course, more:
If you’re interested in checking out the film, it it available for streaming via virtually every streaming platform known to man. Click HERE.
If you are desirous of even more Minor League “cinema,” then click HERE to see Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder riding a dirtbike. Or, hey, how about this: Fresno Grizzlies mascot Parker provides the mascot perspective on a hot-button social issue.
Or if lip-syncing front-office members are more your thing, then how about this video courtesy of the Tulsa Drillers?
In the Academy Awards of my mind, which take place biannually for some reason, these are all statuette-worthy efforts.
Introductory paragraphs within this blog forum can sometimes be needlessly circuitous, steeped as they are in obscure references and acute self-consciousness. But not today. Today, we cut to the chase:
What follows is a comprehensive round-up of Harlem Shake videos produced by Minor League teams.
Yes, you’re probably sick of the Harlem Shake at this point. I am too. But let’s take the long view, as historians with an interest in baseball history, viral fads and the intersection of the two will no doubt delight in stumbling upon this post at some at some unknown moment in the distant future. I am doing this for you, future historians! I always am. For it is you who will ensure my legacy.
Plus, you’ve gotta admit — Minor League teams, with their easy access to supply closets full of banana suits and inflatable ponies, make better Harlem Shake videos than most. So here we go! In no particular order, here are two dozen Harlem Shake videos produced by professional baseball teams in possession of a formal affiliation with a Major League club.
Frederick Keys — Apparently a big-headed reincarnation of Francis Scott Key regularly sits in on front office meetings:
Columbus Clippers — Warning! Includes bear-on-frankfurter violence that may be unsettling to younger viewers:
Bowie Baysox — A toothbrush can’t dance? I bristle at such a notion:
Lexington Legends — Mister would you please stop punching that pony? WATCH ON FACEBOOK.
Vancouver Canadians — As if any proof was needed that this was an international phenomenon:
Fort Wayne Tincaps — A solitary pothead gives way to a banana who loves the queen of hearts.
Lake Elsinore Storm — Yes that is an upside-down squirrel hanging from the dugout, and yes he is happy to see you:
Corpus Christi Hooks — Can’t a man bike through the office in peace? WATCH ON MILB.COM
Tulsa Drillers — Hey, no dogs in the swimming pool!
Gwinnett Braves — Team store? More like surreal fever dream store!
New Hampshire Fisher Cats — Fungo and friends “rose” to the occasion:
Lehigh Valley IronPigs — Give peas a chance. WATCH ON MILB.COM
Buffalo Bisons — Vest-wearing gentleman on the right is my favorite individual to appear in any Harlem Shake video:
Charlotte Stone Crabs — What’s to stop the Incredible Hulk from wearing a sombrero?
Fresno Grizzlies — Forget this faddish viral bastardization. Parker knows how to do the REAL Harlem Shake. WATCH ON VINE.
Louisville Bats — This takes place in multiple dimensions simultaneously. It will blow your mind.
Bowling Green Hot Rods — I guess you could say that Axle rose to the occasion.
Delmarva Shorebirds — The Shake so nice they did it twice.
Springfield Cardinals — You know what? This is probably the best one out of all of ’em.
Round Rock Express — All bobblehead version!
Connecticut Tigers — Shout it from the rooftop!
And, finally, there are the State College Spikes. The first Minor League team to post a Harlem Shake video, and the last to be featured in this post:
Two latecomers have entered the fray!
Orem Owlz — Holly, the Owlz pregnant mascot, wisely sat this one out.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans — Fans of multi-colored crustacean triumvirates rejoice!
And that’s all she wrote, folks. “She” being me, of course. I am a man. A 34-year-old man. A man who is perhaps too old to be providing you with diversions such as the above. But yet I do, and yet I did.
Do not forsake me, future historians! I do not want to believe that this has all been in vain.
There are few ironclad truisms here in the cutthroat world of Minor League Baseball blogging, but one of them is this: there’s never a bad time for a bouillabaisse! So here we go with just that — a collection of random ingredients that, once stirred together, combine to make for a hearty virtual meal.
After hours and hours of not looking, let’s start with the biggest piece of news that I can find with no effort: for the first time ever, the results of the Goldklang Group’s bobblection (in which fans express their presidential preferences via bobblehead) did not correspond with the result in the subsequent election.
Romney won the 2012 “Bobblection” by a final tally of 6-4, but, as we all know, he was unable to acquire a similar margin of victory on Tuesday night. I, for one, am shocked — when the distribution of competing ceramic souvenirs at a Minor League Baseball game is unable to foretell the outcome of momentous national events then I think it’s time for all of us to take a long look in the mirror in order to determine what other of our deeply-held assumptions have turned out to be erroneous.
Erroneous assumptions such as this one: mascots don’t have birth certificates.
Upon seeing that Spokane Indians mascot Otto was running for president, I mentioned to the team via Twitter that his candidacy was invalid due to lack of proper documentation.
The Indians hemmed and hawed around the issue, saying that the certificate had been “misplaced” amidst their ongoing stadium renovations. At first I was skeptical that such a certificate had ever existed, but these feelings were partially mitigated by a tweet I soon received from Lexington Legends’ promotions coordinator Lauren Shrader. This tweet (which included the hashtag #theyarepeopletoo) featured photographic proof of mascot Big Elle.’s birth certificate (Big Elle, as you can see, weighed 150 pounds upon emergence from the womb).
At any rate, I fully expect that the forthcoming offspring of Orem mascotz Hootz and Holly will be properly documented. Holly’s pregnancy is progressing along nicely, as evidenced by this sonogram photo that was posted on the team’s website. Per the Owlz:
After a recent checkup at the doctor’s office, we are happy to report the baby and Holly are both healthy and the due date is on schedule for Opening Day! Hootz and Holly have decided to wait and find out if it’s a boy or a girl until after it is born.
And speaking of whatever the he*k it is that I’ve been talking about:
You have almost certainly
read my recent MiLB piece on the Lake Elsinore Storm and their surreal stable of on-field costumed characters, as it was the talk of the internet for weeks on end. And, while you were reading said piece, I bet you said to yourself, “I wish that there were more surreal images accompanying this piece, so that I could fully bask in the surreality of it all.” And, furthermore, you probably then clicked on the photo gallery accompanying the article so that this urge could be satiated.
But just in case none of the above very likely occurrences took place, I now present you with a quartet of my favorite Lake Elsinore mascot images. They are surreal!
Thunder racing a trio of weiner dogs.
The Rally Cop rallies.
The Grounds Crew Gorilla loses a race to Ace the fastest squirrel in the world.
What’s that in your pants, gorilla? What’s that in your pants?
As mentioned last week, one of the tasks in which I am currently engaged is the compilation of 2012 Promo of the Year MiLBY nominees. There will be many to choose from, but only one will join Billy Donovan Night (Fort Myers, 2007), Mascot Showdown (Fresno, 2008), Cave Shrimp ‘What Could’ve Been Night” (Bowling Green, 2009), the Rickwood Classic (Birmingham Barons, 2010) and Dallas Braden bobblebelly (Stockton Ports, 2011) in the “Promo of the Year” pantheon.
As to which promo will emerge triumphant in 2012, your guess remains as good (or better) than mine. But one thing I do know is that the Orem Owlz “No Soup for You Night,” which took place on July 21, will be among the nominees. On this special evening in north-central Utah, cult sitcom celebrity Larry “the Soup Nazi” Thomas visited the home of the Owlz in order to throw out a first pitch, spend an inning on the radio, sign team-logo ladles for fans, and, of course, serve soup to those he deemed deserving. If you’re asking the question, “But why?” then I envy your blissfully unaware state regarding the world of Minor League Baseball promotions. For the answer to this question, always, is “Why not?” Justification is never needed.
Owlz general manager Brett Crane sent over some pictures from this Seinfeldian endeavor, which he called “the best promotion that we have done in the 12-year history of our franchise.” Now seems as good a time as any to put an end to the tyranny of the written word in this post; let’s get to the pictures! Here’s the man of the hour:
Oodles of Oremites got to the ballpark early, to insure themselves the acquisition of a complimentary soup ladle.
Before interacting with the masses, Mr. Thomas delivered a first pitch into the outstretched mitt of an unknown recipient.
From there on in, the evening was a blur of signing and serving. Whoever brought this to the ballpark was really thinking ahead:
Mr. Thomas signed plenty of ladles as well.
Ladle in the evening, he did the same thing at the ballpark.
One individual who was rejected for improper ordering techniques was mascot Hootz. Maybe Thomas would have been more sympathetic had he known that Hootz’s wife is pregnant?
In any case, this promotion was clearly a success for the Owlz and it will be interesting to see if Thomas becomes a recurring figure on the ballpark appearance circuit. If you’re wondering why I chose to dedicate an entire post to this promo, please know that it has nothing to do with the following item I received via post last month.
Ben’s Biz Blog: Insusceptible to bribery since 2007.
Throughout the season, I wrote over 100 blog posts, 22 “Promotion Preview” columns, and sundry articles commemorating notable promotions taking place across Minor League Baseball.
Now it’s time to make sense of all that madness, and I need your help.
Starting today (Tuesday), and continuing on throughout the remainder of the week, I’ll be providing my top six promotions of the year in each of four categories: Giveaways, Theme Nights, Celebrity Appearances, and Miscellaneous Events.
The point of sharing these lists is not just to reminisce on the season that was, but for YOU to let me know what I’m missing. Yes, YOU. Whether you’re a fan, team employee, or covert operative existing in a shady nether region between the two entities, I want to hear from YOU.
Two promotions will be added to each list based on your input, setting the stage for next week’s series of “Promotion of the Year” polls on MiLB.com. Apathy is tantamount to treason, so rack your brain and get in touch today.
Today we’ll take a brief look at some of the season’s top giveaways, with links to how the items were originally covered in this blog and MiLB.com. My six nominees, in alphabetical order:
Brooklyn Cyclones — Ike Davis Bobble Legs
Charleston RiverDogs — Chia Head of groundskeeper Mike Williams
Iowa Cubs — Player To Be Named Later Bobblehead
Lake County Captains — Skipper Leg Lamp
Orem Owlz — Torii Hunter Bobble Arm
Portland Beavers — Viewmaster (with 10 slides featuring Beavers baseball and local military units)
So what am I missing? Let me know YOUR favorite Minor League Giveaway item of the year. I’ll be soliciting emails, tweets, comments, and telegrams throughout the remainder of the week. Silence is deadly, so speak up.
The previous post on this blog featured the following photo from the Trenton Thunder’s “NFL Kickoff Night.” It is quite possibly my favorite pic to emanate from a Minor League stadium this year:
So what, exactly, was going on here? Thunder director of public relations Bill Cook explains:
The kid signing for the cheerleaders was probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen all year. The cheerleaders threw out first pitches and then went over to the wall to sign for fans. After a couple of minutes that kid came down and said “Hey ladies, how’d ya like my autograph?”. The girls laughed and didn’t really know what to say, but since they were still holding the balls from their pitches the kid reached over, took one, and started signing it. As he handed it back, he said, “So, can I have your number?” The girls were speechless.
Truly, this kid is a role model. He carries himself with confidence and humor, and from here on out I will do my best to emulate his carefree approach to unorthodox social situations.
Also taking a carefree approach to unorthodox social situations are Peoria Chiefs players, who have recently been included in a remarkable trifecta of videos. First came the “Chiefstreet Boys”, then a rollicking Motown homage, and now this:
And it just keeps getting more ridiculous, as I just stumbled upon this:
Clearly, these guys are up for just about anything. Also up for anything are the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who seem to specialize in unique ballpark innovations. The team is currently staging the “Battlefield Challenge” at Coca-Cola Park, a game-within-the-game that presents the tantalizing possibility of discounted concession stand items.
Sez the team:
The field at Coca-Cola Park has been divided into six battle zones that each team will attempt to
gain control of in an effort to conquer the entire playing surface.
Each team will have the opportunity to gain control of any
battle zone while they are at-bat. A base hit into any zone will give
the hitting team control of that zone until a base hit from the opposing
team lands in that zone.
And should the IronPigs gain control of all six zones, discounts will go into effect at the concession stands throughout the remainder of the ballgame.
Also, in what I believe is a Minor League first, the IronPigs are offering a week-long fan cruise this off season:
The package includes a souvenir IronPigs gift and exclusive
events (including an autograph session!) with IronPigs All-Star and
2008 World Series Champion Andy Tracy, IronPigs broadcaster Matt
Provence, IronPigs General Manager Kurt Landes along with popular
mascots FeRROUS and FeFe!
This seven-night cruise to the Bahamas and Florida
aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel leaves New York City on
November 14 and includes trips to Port Canaveral, Florida, Great Stirrup
Cay (Bahamas) and Nassau (Bahamas). While aboard the ship, enjoy all
included meals and entertainment!
Wow. This is way better than the Ben’s Biz Blog offseason cruise, which consists of ’70s rock singalongs on a leaky dinghy imbued with the scent of rotting seagull.
Finally, I am happy to report that the Orem Owlz recently staged a “Weird Al Night”promotion. The master satirist was recognized in the following ways (thanks to Owlz assistant gm Brett Crane for the report):
Middle of the 3rd: Videoboard Weird Al Lyrics (Fill-in-the-Blank)
[The contestant’s] goals was to fill-in-the-blank for three well-known Weird Al songs: “Like a Surgeon”, “Amish Paradise”, and “Eat It”.
Middle of the 4th and 5th: Weird T’Al’ents Contest
Middle of the 6th – “Eat It” Chocolate Pudding ContestThis was the messiest eating contest of the night and for
the season by far. Two contestants were chosen to compete against each other in
a timed eating contest. Each contestant was given three mini graham cracker
pies filled with chocolate pudding. Whoever finished their set of three first
won the designated prize from one of our sponsors. Of course, not all of
the pies were fully eaten and chocolate was everywhere. (“Eat It” was played
during this promotion).
This is a step in the right direction, but of course the ultimate goal is for all Minor League teams to stage at least one Weird Al promo every season. Please, everyone:
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.
To start things off, I would like to post this picture of the skateboard deck that the Bowling Green Hot Rods will be giving away on May 31. I meant to post this yesterday, but ran into inexplicable technical difficulties that ended up ballooning into an anxiety-ridden existential crisis that left me questioning the concrete reality of everything I take for granted on a day-to-day basis. So here goes nothing:
Now that that’s out of the way, I suppose I should mention that today is St. Patrick’s Day and then dutifully provide some suitably Irish content. Consider it done.
I am aware of two teams that have released St. Patty’s apparel: The Orem Owlz and Savannah Sand Gnats (feel free to send me indignant emails that point out other clubs I have omitted, as my goal of total omniscience has not yet been attained).
A Gnatty St. Patty:
Update: Here’s another one, courtesy of the South Bend Silver Hawks. As you may recall, the Silver Hawks play an annual exhibition game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
And since I’m on the much-beloved topic of “apparel”, now is as good a time as any to point out that the Tulsa Drillers unveiled their new uniforms earlier this week. Not too drastic a change, but it should be noted that a “rich, royal blue” will now be the primary color:
I’ve got a pair of apparel items for you, as it “terns” out. The Great Lake Loons unveiled a new alternate logo, which will be worn on Sundays. In my mind, this looks like a futuristic hover car, with the driver represented as the two circles within the Loons’ red eye.
Birds reign supreme in other markets as well, such as Missoula:
It is worth noting that the Osprey front office works out of this house during the offseason:
To continue on with both the “video” and “bird” theme, the Memphis RedBirds have released a pair of videos that highlight their constant state of baseball readiness.
With all due respect to Three Dog Night’s take on “One”, I would like to suggest that in the future teams opt for the Harry Nilsson version (Incidentally, if any club stages a “Nilsson Night” at the ballpark then I will travel to cover it on my own dime).
But back to the ‘Birds, who have more up their sleeve when it comes to delusional backstops:
That’ll do it for me today. I hope everyone enjoys their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, even if said celebration is simply drinking Mickey’s while watching Leprechaun in the Hood.
(And if that is indeed what you are doing, then I hope you are getting as much out of college as I did).
I am ready to embrace the offseason. I really and truly am. But if I come up with a blog post idea that will let me re-visit a time when Minor League Baseball was actually played every day, then you best believe I’m gonna do it.
And today, that idea is this: to present my favorite photos that appeared on this blog during the 2009 season. I did not apply any specific criteria when making these selections, other than to ask myself “Does this photo make my inner-most being cry out in rapturous wonderment?.” If the answer was in the affirmative, then you will see it listed below. Hopefully, your innermost being will respond similarly.
What follows are my top 10 pics of the year, listed in the order in which they appeared on this blog.
Master Yogi Berra Lets Loose — On April 21, Greensboro Grasshoppers canine mascot Master Yogi Berra had a bit of an on-field accident. The following is one of two pictures I obtained of the incident (the “clean version”, if you will):
Ceremonial Centenarian — On April 24, Round Rock Express season-ticket holder Chris Nocera threw out the first pitch. She is 102 years old — and very determined:
Cream Stick Gets Creamed — The Akron Aeros nightly “Cream Stick Race” was, by all accounts, a chaotic free-for-all. Here, Vanilla feigns innocence immediately after pushing Maple to the ground:
A Moo-ving Image — A key component of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ “Salute to Cows” was a mooing contest. The following picture depicts the eventual champion as he readied himself for the moo of his life:
An A-peel-ing Photo — As part of the Idaho Falls Chukars’ “Potato Night”, so-called “Spuddy Buddies” were thrown into the crowd. It was a thing of beauty:
Belly Quickly Busted — This guy couldn’t even make it out of the first round in the Williamsport Crosscutters’ annual “Belly Buster” contest:
If you have any photos from this past se
ason that you think are worthy of inclusion in this blog, then by all means get in touch. I’ll be waiting patiently for your correspondence.
In all honesty, I’m not feeling too well today. A headache and general fatigue has resulted in a sluggish pace here at the office, and a sluggish pace can simply not be tolerated during this, the season’s homestretch.
There’s only one thing that could possibly make me feel better, and that one thing is this: mascot love. So get ready to see some mascot love.
The mascots in question are Hootz and Holly of the Orem Owlz. Astute readers may recall a recent blog post in which I mentioned the fact that these two literal lovebirds would be getting married. Owlz media relations director Matt Gittins speculated that this would be a Minor League first, but this assertion has since been debunked by readers more knowledgable than I (mascot weddings have already taken place in Lowell and Hudson Valley, among others).
But no matter. The most important thing is that Hootz and Holly have been united in holy matrimony. Reports Gittins, the pastor:
Throughout the night we played all kinds of wedding themed promotional
games, such as a Couples Cake Eating/Feeding Competition, Flower Bouquet Toss, and a Wedding Dance Off.
The mascots in the ceremony are the Flash Fox from the NBA D-League's Utah
Flash and the dog is Charlie the Angel Dog from the old Provo Angels.
The two guys in red are actually just random fans who had dressed up on
their own for the night. We thought they fit the part so we threw them
into the ceremony.
The two girls are the promotion girls Jillian and Alicia
More from Gittins:
Here are the vows from the ceremony asked to each mascot:
Do you Hootz/Holly promise to take Holly/Hootz in wins and losses, rain or
shine, strikeouts and homeruns?
By the power invested in me by Minor League Baseball and by Mascot Nation
I pronounce you Man and Wife....You may kiss the bride.
Fireworks then exploded over the outfield fence as they rode off the field
in the Utah National Guard Hummer Golf Cart.
We then took the happy couple to the local sports bar for a Wedding
Reception with all the fans and players. I gave the toast at the wedding
saying that we may see some little Owlets in the future.
I wish Hootz and Holly all the best in their new life together, and hope that “Owlets” do indeed result from their state-recognized relationship. Mascot procreation is just as legitimate as any other form of procreation, and it’s high time that American society accepted this fact.
I’d be more than happy to feature other instances of mascot love on this blog, so please get in touch if you are able to provide me with such.
But in the meantime, please check out my final “Promotion Preview” column of the year.