Meet the MacPhail Nominees: Tri-City ValleyCats
11 teams (representing 11 leagues) have been nominated for the trophy, and the
winner will be announced on Dec. 3 at the Baseball Winter Meetings Awards
Luncheon. Over the next several weeks, this fine blog will run interviews with
representatives from the nominated teams, in an effort to shine some
light on their promotional strategies and philosophies.
speak with Vic Christopher, the Assistant General Manager of the New
York-Penn League’s Tri-City Valley Cats(Class A Short-Season affiliate
of the Houston Astros). The ValleyCats are coming off of a season in
which they drew a franchise-record 136,809 fans, marking the fourth consecutive season in which they set a new attendance record.
Prior to this season, had your team ever been nominated for the MacPhail Award? If so, ever won it?
No, but having received the nomination in a season with a 27-47 record definitely takes the sting out of a last-place finish.
In 25 words or less, what is your team’s general promotional strategy?
Let’s Party! Our strategy may change nightly, but whether it’s Country Music Night or Halloween in August, the constant theme is one big party with 4,000 of your closest friends.
What were some of your biggest promotional successes from this past season? Anything that just didn’t work?
Air Guitar Championship Night, where fans brought their own air guitars to the ballpark and showcased their skills on top of the dugouts between innings. Contestants would rock out, jamming to some of the greatest guitar solos of all time trying to win a brand-new electric guitar.
"Spiedie the Chicken" was a new mascot that was an instant hit at the ballpark. As a tie-in to one of the ValleyCats concession items, Lupos Chicken Spiedies Sandwiches, this character is a bright yellow, six foot chicken that speeds around the warning track on a classic Vespa scooter, tossing Chicken Spiedies Sandwiches into the crowd.
Some things just didn’t work, but that can be fun too. The DeerBanana was a combination of a
leftover Christmas in July costume and an old banana suit that was collecting dust. The result still has people scratching their heads. Jonathan Salant from minorleaguebaseball.com called DeerBanana the "worst mascot in the history of baseball", and he may be correct.
What is your favorite sports promotion of all time?
Salsa Meringue Nolan Ryan Country Music Night. That’s what happens when you get two rainouts in a row and you are forced to "combine".
Now it’s time to start planning for 2008. Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for next season?
Nothing is set in stone at this point, but we thought it might be cool to see a Rabbit in a three-piece suit driving a race car.
The next edition of "Meet the MacPhails" will appear on Friday, when we speak with Jacksonville Suns General Manager Kirk Goodman.