Meet the MacPhail Nominees: West Michigan Whitecaps
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.
Today, we speak with Brian Oropallo, the Promotions Coordinator of the Midwest League Champion West Michigan Whitecaps (Class A Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers).
Prior to this season, had your team ever been nominated for the MacPhail Award? If so, ever won it?
We have won the Midwest League’s Larry MacPhail Award twice before, in 2002 and 1997, but we have never won the national award.
In 25 words or less, what is your team’s general promotional strategy?
We try to provide an exciting atmosphere each night for our fans. We want to entertain those that come to one game or 70 games.
What were some of your biggest promotional successes from this past season? Anything that just didn’t work?
Star Wars Night was awesome. We had special jerseys that we auctioned off for charity and there were about 40 different Star Wars characters roaming the stands thanks to the local Star Wars fan club.
We also did a Fan Vote Bobblehead, which included campaign videos, commercials, and a debate on the first base dugout. Our on-field announcer beat out a former player, a former manager, our mascot, and the team’s owner.
One promotion that worked well outside of a game was our mascot running a 5K to help promote the run and raise money for the YMCA.
Things that didn’t work: I don’t want to mention any names, but let’s just say that sometimes you can pick the wrong person to be a bobblehead. Also, Neil Diamond Night didn’t go as planned because everyone thought our Neil Diamond was Elvis.
What is your favorite sports promotion of all time?
Our favorite promotion has to be Eddie Gaedel getting called up and wearing number 1/8. That is only something Bill Veeck could have pulled off and it really started all of the craziness we are allowed to do today.
Now it’s time to start planning for 2008. Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for next season?
Of course, but we don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. But don’t worry, our sales people will make sure we have our promotional schedule done soon.