In much the same way that a bear lives off of its own fat throughout the winter, I am able to survive the lean times by relying on my great storehouse of Minor League content.
Today I’ll dip into that vast reserve in order to bring you a steaming bouillabaisse of words and images from the 2011 campaign (I just spelled “bouillabaisse” correctly on the second attempt, tying my personal best in this category).
Let’s start with our friends in the mountain foothills, that distinguished Carolina League entity known as the Lynchburg Hillcats. Last month, the team staged a NASCAR Night promotion and staged it well.
It all started in the stadium parking lot, with cars from different eras of racing history stationed therein.
Also present was the official pace car from nearby Martinsville Speedway, one of the night’s sponsors.
The evening’s guest of honor was Rex White, a legendary racer who in 1960 won the NASCAR Grand National Championship.
Meanwhile, Danny “Dale Earnhardt” Dudley was named “Best Dressed Fan.”
Between-inning games and contests were centered around the theme. Here, the green flag signals the start of the “Tire Roll”…
…while a white flag indicates the last lap of the Pool Sprint.
Moving from cars to guitars, last month the Reading Phillies welcomed a touring performer I had never before heard of: the Sauce Boss. Not only does this guy play “Florida Slide Guitar Blues,” but he cooks gumbo on stage and serves it to the audience.
Keeping with the song and dance theme, the Fort Wayne TinCaps held a ’90s Night Promotion in August that included innovations such as the following:
— The “92nd” inning, commemorating Nirvana’s release of “Smells like Teen Spirit” with a “What’s that Smell” onfield promotion.
— The strike-shortened “94th inning”, in which all promotions were stopped in the middle in memory of the MLB strike which began on August 12, 1994.
— The Titanic “King of the World” cam in the 98th inning.
And then there was this:
Even more horrifying is a ballpark character I learned about during the recent Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar: the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ “Ram of War.”
This unapologetic villain competes against children in between-inning contests, crushing their dreams and feeding off the screams:
Brilliant. The world of Minor League Baseball needs more bad guys, they make us all look good in comparison.
For the Kane County Cougars, the Friday leading into July 4th weekend has traditionally been a slow one at the gates. Fans have been reluctant to attend, opting to wait until the team’s Independence Day celebrations.
So this season, they generated excitement by staging a tribute to Harry Potter. ‘Tis the time to do that sort of thing, of course, as the eighth (and final) installment of the film franchise opens on July 15.
Heather Mills, who organized the event, writes that Some of the activities of the night included a wand making station (fans could decorate a dowel rod with markers, crayons, and ribbon), a Harry Potter scavenger hunt, costume parade, trivia contest, and a fireworks show to Harry Potter music….It was quite a hit with fans as we had several hundred show up in costume….We also had the ballpark decorated in the Hogwarts house colors, house banners, and other recognizable things from the books/movies…. Another activity that spontaneously broke out during the night occurred after the kids visited the wand station. Several kids were dueling each other with magic spells on our lawn area.
The festivities helped contribute to a strong crowd of 5745, a number of whom battled for on-field costumed supremacy.
Another successful theme night of recent vintage was the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ “Great Outdoors” celebration, sponsored by the Virginia Wildlife Foundation and featuring special guest Josh Harris from the show Deadliest Catch.
I am not familiar with Harris, but apparently he’s quite the celebrity. Flying Squirrels director of promotions Christina Shisler writes that Harris “signed autographs the entire game, tossed a first pitch, led the crowd in take me out to the ballgame and even recorded a PSA for our sponsor.”
An even bigger celebrity is set to be honored in Reading this weekend — the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor. One fan will win a 550-lb replica of the man and his ostrich.
I’ll conclude this blogging week with a simple reminder that, yes, I still need you to send me photos of introspective mascots. Please, this is important to me.
Tonight is “Thrifty Thursday” in West Michigan, featuring a plethora of food and beverage discounts. It is also “Space Alien Night.”
And judging by the looks of jersey the team is wearing, it looks like they might want offer a special on hamburgers and Jim “Beam.”
“Space Alien Night” appears to be an ambitious endeavor, as the team has the following events planned:
Pregame interview with an alien…Video clips and music from famous alien movies…Inflatable Aliens decorating the ballpark and given away as prizes…Space alien jerseys for the team and alien costumes for the staff…Recreation of the mashed potato sculpture from Close Encounters of the Third Kind…A $5 reserved seat offer ($4.50 off the normal price) to anyone that lives on Jupiter Ave….Alien themed promotions on the field…An alien autopsy display…We will reveal the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything…Alien trivia.
I like that penultimate initiative, thrown in there like it’s no big deal: “We will reveal the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything.” Of course, the best way to advertise such a spectacular event is through a series of absurdist no-budget comedic vignettes.
The WhiteCaps are strong proponents of the absurd comedic video, as evidenced by this recent ad for “Japanese Baseball Night”:
Japanese Baseball Night was more than just a celebration of dubious b-movie dialogue that may or may not have been of Japanese origin in the first place. Promotions manager Brian Oropallo writes that
We served some hot dog sushi, played Japanese music and baseball highlights, had a Japanese announcer for the starting lineups and an inning of PA announcing and, as seen in the video, some animal mascots from Japanese league teams. The balloon launch was the highlight of the evening.
Ah, yes, seventh-inning stretch balloons. Just one of many, many, many things I have written about through the years. Here’s how it looked:
In closing, I once again urge you to send me your introspective mascot photos. Since self-respect is an “alien” concept to me, I will continue to beg for them until I have attained at least 10.