This week I have been aware of a distinct shift in the tone and tenor of the national Minor League Baseball conversation. Valentine’s Day promos and borderline insane snow-related ticket deals are on the way out, as the primary focus is now on the 2015 season that soon will be. Promotion schedules are being released at a rapid clip, and as a result Opening Day know feels like a tangible thing as opposed to a vague abstraction.
What I’m trying to say here, as always, is that I have a bunch of random new Minor League promos to share with you. So share them, I will:
My prediction is that, by the end of 2015, we’ll be so sick of 30th anniversary Back to the Future celebrations that a future pop culture Terminator will go back in time in order to insure that the movie doesn’t get made at all. But for now, let’s celebrate this rising promotional trend. The Biscuits will be wearing these theme jerseys on June 27, for example:
— Montgomery Biscuits (@BiscuitBaseball) February 6, 2015
Meanwhile, the Charlotte Knights will have a Delorean on the premises.
While currently lacking a distinct visual to go along with it, the Bowie Baysox announced that, on July 19, they will be giving away a Babe Ruth bobblehead in which he is wearing the uniform of the 1914 (Minor League) Baltimore Orioles. This is, in a word, great.
(As for that “Touch a Truck” event, my hope is that the Baysox release a promotional “trailer.” For far more truck puns, courtesy of myself and several Minor League broadcasters, go HERE.)
Also lacking a distinct visual, but also great, is this August 6 eggs-travaganza in Toledo:
Bacon & Eggs Night
Fans will have a sizzlin’ good time at the first ever ‘Bacon and Eggs Night’ at Fifth Third Field. Things will heat up when the Hens take the field wearing egg-themed jerseys and hats against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who will be wearing their popular bacon-themed jerseys.
Thanks to a “last-minute” recruiting day commitment, the Bowling Green Hot Rods are pleased to announce that Ickey Woods will be visiting the ballpark on August 15. Per the team:
Woods will sign autographs, mingle with fans, and showcase his signature celebration….His appearance will be joined by specials on cold cuts, and Woods will lead Bowling Green Ballpark in an attempt to break the record for the most “Ickey Shuffles” done simultaneously in one location.
The Sacramento River Cats are capitalizing on on our nation’s apparently insatiable appetite for ’90s pop culture nostalgia via this “Legends of the Hidden Temple” theme jersey:
If the mere mention of the Shrine of the Silver Monkey brings up intense emotion, our ’90s Night jersey is for you. pic.twitter.com/au5UzLIrM8
— River Cats (@RiverCats) February 6, 2015
Speaking of ’90s nostalgia, you probably heard about this one already. The Brooklyn Cyclones are staging “Saved By the Bell Night” on June 24:
You’ll have to use your imagination for now, but the Richmond Flying Squirrels are giving away Joe Panik “Panik Buttons” on July 21.
Star Wars promotions have become an epidemic throughout Minor League Baseball. The Buffalo Bisons, one of many teams to tie a theme jersey into the evening’s attractions, will be wearing “Jedi Robes” on July 18.
In what is certainly one of the cruder promotions of the year, the Midland RockHounds are wearing these black gold-splattered duds during August’s “Oil Field Weekend.”
(For what it’s worth, I am a much bigger fan of locally-oriented theme jerseys such as that shown above. Pop culture jerseys have their place, but as a general rule I believe that clubs should give precedence to that which highlights the uniqueness of their own community. And, certainly, Midland is a unique baseball market.)
Finally, we have the Lakewood BlueClaws. On May 22, two days after David Letterman signs off from the airwaves, the team is staging a promotion in honor of the iconic late night host. If you’re wondering why they would do such a thing, then simply consult the BlueClaws’ Top 10 List.
This post represents a mere smattering (is there any other type of smattering?) of the notable promotions that will be staged in 2015. Stay tuned, as there will be (too) much more where this comes from.
Can Minor League Baseball be stopped? No, it cannot be stopped.
Star Wars theme jerseys are not a new phenomenon, but this year Minor League Baseball teams have really taken it up a notch.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are Luke’s father, the Kane County Cougars are makin’ Wookiee, and the Durham Bulls are 2D2 (just to name a few examples). But one team just might have trumped them all, and that team is the Brooklyn Cyclones. On the evening of August 2, the Cyclones will become the “Sithclones.” And on that night they will wear these jerseys, with “Brooklyn” written out in Aurebesh (the high galactic alphabet).
For more information on this Padawan of a kind initiative, I now direct you to Cyclones director of communications Billy Harner:
Last season, the Cyclones held the first-ever Star Wars Night at MCU Park in front of a capacity crowd on Coney Island. It was such a success that we knew we needed to bring it back for the 2014 season. But how do you improve on a first-pitch from Darth Vader, light saber battles on the field, a meet and greet with Princess Leia, and a post-game family sleepover on the field? It was tough…but we found a way.
On Saturday, August 2nd, the first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a Padawan Pee Wee bobblehead featuring our youngest mascot in the form of a Jedi Apprentice.
But that’s not all. The team will also be wearing one-of-a-kind Sithclones Jerseys on the field that evening which will be raffled off to benefit local charities. The jerseys feature the emblem of the Sith Empire on the right sleeve, and has “Brooklyn” spelt across the chest in “Aurebesh.”
“Best” is a subjective term, so whether these are the “best” Star Wars jerseys is a matter of debate. What isn’t up for the debate is this: these are the most terrifying Star Wars theme jerseys ever created. If I was at this game, I’d truly be concerned about the possibility of them gaining sentience.
And, lest we forget, the sure-to-go-national Star Wars promo comes on the heels of the Cyclones’ already-gone-national Seinfeld promo.
Sez the team:
On July 5, 1989, the “Seinfeld Chronicles” aired on NBC for the first time and 25 years later, the Cyclones will celebrate the “show about nothing” that has left an indelible mark on popular culture. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a Keith Hernandez “Magic Loogie” Bobblehead. In addition, there will be non-stop Seinfeld themed entertainment from beginning to end. Yada yada yada…you’ll have an awesome night.
How do you say “Magic Loogie” in Aurebesh?
“Star Wars Night” promotions, an idea first conceived by the West Michigan Whitecaps, have become an annual staple throughout the industry. I’m not a fan of the films (blasphemy, I know) but there is absolutely no disputing the fact that “Star Wars Night” results in a high level of fan engagement which, in turn, leads to some fantastic ballpark visuals.
For proof of all this, let’s take a look at the Toledo Mud Hens (semi) recent “May the Fourth Be With You” extravaganza.
The team advertised festivities such as the following, bullet-pointed for your pleasure:
- LED Light Stick Giveaway (first 2,000 fans)
- Appearances by Star Wars characters, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Storm Troopers, and more
- Star Wars costume contest (with prizes!) and on-field parade
- Chewbacca to throw out ceremonial first pitch
- Star Wars-themed food and beverage items
- Star Wars sound effects and music throughout the game
- Kazoo Giveaway (first 5,000 fans) to be used in a Star Wars ‘kazoo-along’ prior to postgame fireworks
- Star Wars-themed “May the Fourth Be With You” postgame fireworks
And, indeed, such festivities did occur. Here are some gems from the team’s Facebook page:
Hey, Yoda, turn around and look at the camera!
There you go:
If the above six pictures were worth approximately 6000 words, then this video recap should be good for about 35k more (I did the math). Chewbacca toes the slab!
Finally, the team asked fans to provide a caption for this first-pitch photo (as the video above amply illustrates, Chewy fired a strike).
The results were decidedly mixed, as they often are with this kind of thing (one fan simply wrote: “I was in the elevator with him!”) I think my favorite was “The San Diego Chicken has really let himself go.”
Before I shuffle off of this mortal coil (that’s slang for “end a blog post”), I’ll share a video of (relatively) recent vintage.
This one, produced for Richmond’s “Flying Squirrels Insider” show, is great. Broadcaster Jon Laaser instructs Giants catching prospect Tommy Joseph on how not to build upper body strength and being unready at the plate.
“You gotta get noodly with the legs!”
And since we’re kinda-sorta on the topic of “amateur attempts to do the job of a professional,” here’s an audio link to my inning on the air with Brice Zimmerman of the Fort Myers Miracle. I’m actually kind of proud of it, because if you’re going to fail you may as well do so spectacularly.
Listen HERE, and, please, let me know if you have any advice on how I could do a better job next time.
As part of my increasingly desperate attempts to provide content from when Minor League Baseball was still being played on a daily basis across the country, please enjoy this triumvirate of pictures from the Modesto Nuts’ “Star Wars Night”.
And I’ll be honest here: the last time I featured a “Star Wars Night” on this blog I ended up with about 4.2 billion hits. Plenty of people were kind enough to link to it, often with remarks like “check out these hilarious pictures!”
That’s something I’ve learned over the years — pictures are key. Writing, not so much. That’s why I would never waste upwards of one hour each day agonizing over pun construction. Of course not. That would be stupid.
But what certainly isn’t stupid is a giant inflatable mascot created in honor of a former team president. Behold inflatable Chuck Domino, unveiled during the Reading Phillies’ Hall of Fame Night on August 31:
But the Reading Phillies, like almost everyone else, have moved on to offseason concerns. The team is currently providing a series of video progress reports as FirstEnergy Stadium undergoes a $10 million renovation project. Here’s Chapter 1:
Domino, meanwhile, is now Chief Executive Manager of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Today, the Squirrels announced that Nutzy the mascot plans to rappel down a 25-story building next month.
For charity, of course. Sez Nutzy:
Help send me Over the Edge and for Special Olympics Virginia. That’s right…I’m hoping to rappel off a 25-story building in downtown Richmond this October! In order to take on this challenge and join other fearless Special Olympics fans on the roof, I must first reach my fundraising goal. With your help I’ll be dangling from 400 feet up in no time!
The thought occurs to me that Nutzy should be kept far away from Modesto, as he would probably attempt to store that team’s pair of anthropomorphic Nut mascots within the confines of his cheeks.
But such abstract concerns can wait — the playoffs are still going on! Get pumped, Northwest Arkansas fans. Get pumped.
No matter how where you are in your particular baseball journey — postseason, offseason, or otherwise — I thank you for your continued patronage of this blog. You keep looking at the pictures, and I’ll keep writing. It’s a nice little symbiotic relationship we have going here.