The San Diego Padres recently announced a new partnership with TaylorMade Golf, highlighted by a piece of ballpark signage that is anything but par for the course: an 88-foot R11 replica driver along the right field foul pole.
Those who work within Minor League Baseball won’t be surprised to learn that the driving force behind this innovation is sports business jack-of-all-trades (and Fort Myers Miracle co-owner) Dan Migala who enjoyed a long stint as emcee of the annual Minor League Baseball promotional seminar.
While Migala is currently immersed in the world of MLB, the foul pole is a clear indication that he’s still in touch with the creative spirit of the Minors. So how did the foul pole come into being, Dan?
“We created this specifically for TaylorMade,” he explained via email. “It was really a creative process that just made sense, especially when you focus on the parallel values of the golf driver and the home run: power, distance, drive, etc. I had an a-ha moment that this is the perfect way to market a golf club in a baseball stadium, give them a dominant presence and allow them to authentically be a part of the game. We’re now referring to balls hit down the line as ‘Amen Corner.’”
While such radical foul pole transformation is a first for the Majors, Migala mentioned that his Promotional Seminar days served as an influence.
“There’s been a few iterations of the foul pole but my favorite was one that Darrin Gross (now with the Oakland A’s) did in Lake Elsinore in the late 90s with a local dentist and turned it into a toothbrush.”
But the foul pole revolution has only just begun.
“From a marketing perspective, this makes sense because of the authentic nature of it,” wrote Migala. “You’re establishing new inventory to the park but you’re doing it in a way where you’re enhancing what’s already there versus another sign on the wall. That’s why it’s resonating so well, and I’d imagine will create more versions to come.”
So let’s go Minor League teams! It’s time to take back the title of “most creative foul pole advertising in professional baseball.” If you currently have some ideas to share, or something in the works, then let me know!
And now, a few QUICK HITS before I depart:
— This interactive Durham Bulls “Gigapixel Fan Cam” is the coolest thing I’ve seen all day. Were YOU there on Opening Day? Prove it!
Minor League ballparks are hospitable places, rolling out the red carpet for sitcom stars, sexagenarian wrestlers and eccentric hurlers alike.
Today’s edition of “Promo Year in Review” features my top six celebrity appearances of the year, highlighting a half-dozen bold-faced names who graced the ballpark with their presence. But, as always, I need YOU to tell me who I’ve missed. Get in touch via email or Twitter and let me know, as suggestions for this and previous categories will be accepted through 10 a.m. Monday.
My six nominees, in ever-so-sensible alphabetical order. Click on each individual’s name to see how his ballpark visit was originally covered (and, yes, they are all men. Don’t shoot the messenger).
Fresno Grizzlies — Alfonso “Carlton” Ribiero (as part of “Mad Tight ’90s Night”)
Lakewood BlueClaws — Jeff “Chunk” Cohen (as part of “Goonies Night”)
Oklahoma City RedHawks — Peter Mayhew (aka “Chewbacca”)
Reading Phillies — Dennis “Mr. Belding” Haskins
Round Rock Express — Rojo Johnson (aka Will Ferrell)
Vermont Lake Monsters — Bill “Spaceman” Lee/Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd (on the same night!)
I don’t have a picture from this picture, but here are their respective Wikipedia photos:
Duty compels me to once again mention that I need your input. What celebrities caused a sensation at YOUR Minor League ballpark this year. And — hey! — I know you’re reading. There’s no escape. Get in touch. Are you going to let my complete neglect of sexagenarian wrestlers go uncriticized?
Those who like to bet on horses are accustomed to seeing racing mares, but it took the Tri-City ValleyCats to bring racing mayors to the masses.
Perhaps inspired by the Washington Nationals’ popular Racing Presidents, the ValleyCats have recently initiated a nightly competition between a triumvirate of municipal government leaders. Each racer represents one of the Tri-Cities, naturally: Albany mayor Jerry Jennings, Troy mayor Harry Tutunjian, and Schnectady mayor Brian Stratton. While not on the field, the three are apparently quite friendly with one another:
(The above picture, as well as those to come, were lifted from the excellent blog of ValleyCats’ assistant gm Vic Christopher).
But which is which?
Schmoozing has its place, but these guys are all business once the “Tri-City Hall Mayoral Race” begins:
This isn’t the first time that the ValleyCats have tied the mayors of the Tri-Cities into their promotional efforts. In 2008, each of the three politicians was honored with his own bobblehead.
And speaking of bobbleheads, allow me to close this post with an exceedingly vertical picture of a fine specimen that is being given away in Round Rock on Wednesday.
As you’ll no doubt recall, a mustachoied, jewlery-wearing, beer-swilling pitcher by the name of Biilly Ray “Rojo” Johnson took the mound for the Round Rock Express. This mysterious individual precipitated a brawl with just one pitch, and then vanished from the scene just as quickly as he came.
Rojo, of course, was Will Ferrell.
The comedian’s memorable foray into the Minors has been commemorated with what is destined to be one of the most sought-after cards of 2010. Behold:
The card is part of the Pacific Coast League’s “Top Prospects” set, which, in addition to Rojo, includes 35 of the circuit’s most promising players. 3892 of these cardboard beauties were produced; here’s the breakdown:
sets belonging to the 16 PCL teams/league office
cards belonging to the Cancer for College charity
170 uncut press
sheets belonging to the 16 PCL teams/league office
Who knows what will become of the cards belonging to Mr. Ferrell? Like the hair residing above Rojo’s upper lip, that’s his personal stash.
This has been Ben’s Biz Blog post #500. Thank you for your continued patronage.
Earlier this week, the Round Rock Express announced that they acquired a right-handed hurler with an exceedingly unorthodox back story: Billy Ray “Rojo” Johnson.
Biographical details are scant, but here’s what we do know: