Results tagged ‘ Fort Myers Miracle ’

Siptomatic of a Larger Issue

When it comes to political gaffes, Marco Rubio’s nationally televised cotton-mouthed lunge for a water bottle ranks as a pretty minor one.

And now, of course, it has become Minor. This past Thursday, the Fort Myers Miracle announced that they will be staging a “Marco Rubio Water Bottle Giveaway” at a to-be-determined point during the 2013 season.

Marco Rubio

AP

The details:

Fans entering Hammond Stadium will receive a water bottle while being encouraged to gather in the shady parts of the ballpark to stay cool when the heat is on and prevent perspiration. The Miracle will help recreate Rubio’s thirst-quenching moment on national television by setting up a booth where fans can put on a sports jacket, stand in front of a set and down some high-quality H2O.

Those picking up tickets at the will call window should be prepared for unlicked ticket envelopes because our parched Capital Bank ticket office employees will be saving saliva. Fans will need to salvage water water wisely with special deals on high-sodium concession items such as chips, popcorn and peanuts.

In an effort to keep the field saturated, the Hammond Stadium groundscrew will participate in a mid-game rain dance because even the Earth needs a drink on a hot day. Fans can expect to make a big splash with a stadium-wide game of Marco Polo.

Of course, the Miracle will extend an invitation to Senator Rubio to throw out the first pitch, provided he uses the rosin bag beforehand and is thoroughly hydrated.

Funny stuff — I especially like the unlicked ticket envelopes — and par for the course for the satirical savants within the Miracle front office.

But this brings up the old debate: to what end? Much like myself at the junior prom, this promo is conspicuously lacking a date. But even if it is scheduled in April it will most likely seem outdated and irrelevant by the time that it actually occurs.  Barring a visit from Rubio himself, the number of fans who purchase tickets as a direct result of the Miracle’s pop culture riffing will be negligible. It’s possible that the team won’t have much of an incentive to execute the promo at all due to a lack of interest from the fans.

But maybe that’s not the point? Simply by announcing the promo (and taking the time to brainstorm some clever components thereof), the Miracle have ample elicited media coverage/Twitter mentions/blog pontifications and perhaps the cumulative effect of this is a greater brand awareness that does in fact lead to more ticket sales. Or is that wishful thinking? What it the best way to quantify such endeavors, to determine if they are worth doing?

Or, hell, maybe I’m thinking too much (per usual). Maybe the best reason for the Miracle (or any team) to do promotions such as these is simply because they can. Unless you’re on the writing staff of a late night talk show, Minor League Baseball is perhaps the only industry where antics such as the above can legitimately be called part of one’s work day. And THAT might be what makes it worth doing, in and of itself.

Talking to myself, unless you want to talk to me:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Something Fur Everyone

I have already thoroughly documented my own Winter Meetings experience, and played a role in documenting the experiences of quite a few others. But as our old friend Ron Popeil was so fond of saying: “But wait — there’s more!”

On both December 2 and December 3 the touring performance crew known as Fur Circus made goodwill appearances at the Nashville Ronald McDonald House and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (prior to setting up shop as Trade Show exhibitors). This was a win-win mix of altruism and self-promotion — Fur Circus, relative newcomers on the MiLB touring circuit, were able to spread some good cheer while also spreading the word about themselves.

mcdonald

vander

Fur Circus put out a press release prior to their visit, and later wrapped it up with this:

But, of course, all of that happened in the long-ago year of 2012. Here in 2013, we have new things to occupy our time —  like New Year’s-themed ticket packs! The Miracle have been doing this for a couple of years now, and I’m always surprised that it hasn’t inspired other teams to do something similar.

miraclepack

Speaking of ticket packs, you may remember that the Durham Bulls are offering the creatively conceived and executed “Wil He or Won’t He” package. Per the squadron:

The Durham Bulls have unveiled a new ticket package in response to the blockbuster trade which sent Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers and other Kansas City Royals prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for former Bulls pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. The “Wil He, Won’t He?” Pack consists of three big Bulls games, including Opening Day on April 8th and July 4th, and an added incentive for fans should Myers skip Durham and make the Major League roster out of Spring Training. If he does not start the season with the Bulls, ticket package buyers will receive an additional game for free.

Well, now said package has been endorsed  by Mr. Myers himself!

Finally, in the all-important category of “Minor League team page staff bios,” both the State College Spikes and Lake County Captains have modeled theirs after retro baseball card designs. An example of each:

green
grover

Oh, and speaking of retro baseball cards — last year around this time I put together a series of “then and now” blog posts detailing those featured in the classic 1987 Topps set who are currently coaching in the Minor Leagues. Why don’t you give it another look? It was a lot of fun to put together and got a great response, but Lord knows it’s too much work for me to re-do each year. I’m only one man.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Deep-Fried, Bacon-Wrapped, and Uplifting

When I wrote my celiac disease “coming out” post back in early July, I made clear that I was still ready, willing and able to post any and all Minor League food pictures on this blog. But actions speak louder than words, so let’s kick off today’s post with some deep-fried photography of a decidedly gluten-ous/gluttonous bent.

That would be a fried Snickers bar, just one of many delectable offerings that the Charlotte Knights served as part of a “Fried-day” promotion they ran this summer. The team also served fried Oreos.

And fried S’mores were also on the agenda.


And, yes, fried Zingers.

Knights media relations director Tommy Viola reported that the “Fried-day” items “sold like hotcakes,” leading him to then wonder “Hmm, maybe we should try fried hot cakes.”

A decidedly less appetizing and far more ridiculous food-related item emerged in Fort Myers last month, as the Miracle staged a “Salute to Bacon” promotion. As part of the festivities, the balls used for the evening’s ceremonial first pitch looked like this.

When I posted this picture on Twitter, it inspired former Iowa Cubs media relations director/current PR professional Andrea Breen to get in touch. She wanted to let me know that this item was being sold at the Iowa State Fair:

This delectable item was sold by vendor The Bird’s Nest, and described as follows:

The Bacon Wrapped Eggs is muffin-sized and has a layer of pancake batter, crumbled bacon, a cracked egg surrounded by another strip of bacon, then topped with cheese and cooked to perfection. It will be sold for $2.50.

There’s only one possible transition that I can think of at this point, and that is, of course, to write about sports bras. Last month, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans gave them away as part of a “Ladies Night” promotion. Take it away, press release:

Run support won’t be the only thing providing a lift at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark Thursday Night.  It’s Ladies’ Night and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are giving away sports bras, courtesy of Carolina Coastal Plastic Surgery, to the first 200 women 18 and over.

With new sports bras in hand, ladies can then bid on “dates” with eligible members of the Pelicans front office.  All proceeds will benefit the Bruce Dal Canton Fund to support students higher education goals in Horry County.  Winning bidders can date their staff member for the last few innings of the game and then receive a prize pack including movie tickets for a real date night.  Whether or not winners take their Pelicans staff members on those dates is up to them.  In the history of Ladies’ Night, no staffer has been lucky enough for a second date.

While I don’t have any photographs of the sports bras that were given away, let it be known that “Bachelor Quattro” was very much in demand.

Okay, that’s it for me today. I wish I could end with a Zinger, something that would make you Snicker, but I just don’t have any S’more.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Miraculous Encounters in Fort Myers

After spending Friday evening at the Clearwater Threshers game, I awoke early on Saturday morning to meet Dave Deas (a.k.a. “Phinley”) for breakfast at the legendary Lenny’s. I then drove two hours south on 75 to Lee County, within which Fort Myers resides. After a relatively brief tour of JetBlue Park, new Spring Training home of the Boston Red Sox, I checked into La Quinta Inn (apparently one of the preferred hotels of the Florida State League) and geared myself up for the evening’s main event.

The Fort Myers Miracle.

The above baseball palace is Hammond Stadium, which in addition to hosting the Miracle serves as the Spring Training home of the Minnesota Twins. It really is quite beautiful:

I arrived at the ballpark at 4 o’clock, just in time for an unprecedented commitment in my professional career: speaking to a Cub Scout troop. The invitation to do so came courtesy of loyal reader/former Miracle blogger Ed Pelegrino, cubmaster of Troop 110. I didn’t have prepared remarks or anything, I just spoke about my background, what it is I do and what brought me to this current reality. The underlying message was that there are ways to make a living in baseball above and beyond being a player.

My spellbound audience:

This next pic will probably always put a smile on my face. Thanks, pack 110!

I then went in search of Miracle staff members, to be like, “Hey, I’m here. What indignities shall I suffer in the name of Minor League Baseball tonight?” The offices were largely deserted, but I did notice this hilarious piece of communication on the office door of promotions director Gary Sharp.

I caught up with Sharp and crew on the concourse, and soon departed in the clubhouse to interview Miracle manager Jake “Yes, Joe’s Brother” Mauer. (A nicer guy, both within and without of the world of baseball, would be hard to find. Look for a video as soon as I am in possession of an internet signal strong enough to allow me to upload one.)

Back on the concourse, I signed up as an “event seeker” as part of the Miracle’s “Be Your Own Fan” initiative. (There are eight categories of fan, and those who sign up receive special offers tailored to their specific category.) In this picture I think I’m explaining that I wish I wasn’t as old as I actually am.

And after talking with Sharp, I found out that he did indeed have many adventures planned for me. One look at the guy and you could tell he meant business.

Clearly, ample sustenance was needed before dealing with the likes of that guy. So I scanned the concession menu, and settled on the “Miracle Dog.” This is a DIY sort of a item, some assembly required.

This…

becomes this:

That’s bacon, nacho cheese, and peppers. I put on the nacho cheese first, so that it would serve as a bacon adhesive. Then, for the coup de grace, I dumped on the peppers. An extremely well-thought out strategy, one that resulted in the masterpiece you see above. Confidence bolstered, I made my way down to the field to throw out one of the evening’s ceremonial first pitches.

Miss-A-Miracle was glad to see me, but then again she’s glad to see everyone.

The scene on the field was a colorful one, what with the orange and pink t-shirts, the Miracle’s yellow and teal throwback uniforms (they are worn every Friday and Saturday home game this season), and the green grass. It was like a rainbow down there, I tell ya. A rainbow.

The orange shirts were worn by individuals involved with the Dave Clark Foundation, which had staged a remarkable event that morning. The entire Miracle team and coaching staff joined 24 disabled children on the field, giving them one-on-one instruction and helping to stage a game. I interviewed Clark later in the evening, and his story is absolutely remarkable (he had polio as a child, and went on to pitch professionally while on crutches). I’m going to postpone my story on him and his Foundation and their work with the Miracle until after I return from the road, so that I can give it the full attention that it deserves.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of Dave Clark (sans five).

My story is far less inspiring, but it’s all I’ve got: my first first pitch of the season was a strike! Right down the middle! Take my word for it, while admiring the form:

With the game underway, my first task was to take on these two young gentleman in an onfield inflatable pony race. You’re going down, kids!

I may have been a bit older and larger than the my opponents, leading to a bit of resentment from the crowd. I did my best to embrace my temporary villain role…

 …and with that, it was off to the races.

It was a close-fought contest, in which I honed the techniques I learned in Lake County last season, but in the end I lost. I usually do. Congratuations, kid #1.

Next up on the agenda was to use a slingshot to launch a beanbag onto a target placed on the outfield grass.( If memory serves, this was indeed the actual name of the game.) Would you believe that I was unsuccessful?

I prefer to do things in threes, and this certainly includes failed endeavors. So I wandered over to the speed pitch to try my hand at the Miracle’s latest (and therefore greatest) promotion:

The Miracle announced this last week, and it generated a lot of media attention. Here’s how: they tweeted the idea, I re-tweeted it, and a Baseball Prospectus writer saw my tweet and brought it to the attention of a Yahoo! blogger. Yahoo! did a blog post on it, which in turn led to a FoxSports article which in turn was basically re-written by USA Today. And so on and so forth.

The moral of the story is that I am the greatest of all time. And, also, that my fastball is apparently 44 miles an hour.

MLB.com’s Adam Berry happened to be visiting in order to write an article on the Miracle’s Moyer phenomenon (which, in actuality, amounts to two goofy flyers taped to an inflatable speed pitch game). Here he is throwing about as “fast” as I did, and his story can be found HERE. 

My final on-field appearance was atop the third base dugout, as part of a “sing-off” against the third base side. Basically, it amounted to me singing “Born to be wiiiilllllld” at an appropriate moment.

Looking sharp!

After the Miracle Dog, did I need more food? No, I did not. But a stop at the Char Bar happened nonetheless.

There was no way I’d of been able to handle the “Richard Simmons Burger” at that point, but out of a sense of obligation to you, my reader(s), I went with the next strangest:

The mac and cheese burger (which tasted exactly like macaroni and cheese atop a hamburger) accompanied me to the press box. The next order of business was to serve as the official scorer for the top of the sixth inning. The usual guy, Scott Pedersen, was more than happy to oblige. “I like it up here, but I sure could do without the scorekeeping,” he said. “I don’t breathe until each team gets a hit every night.”

Scott Pedersen, official scorer, is the man in the middle.

My “decisions” were as follows: F7, K, K. No fuss, no muss.! Slightly dicier was handling PA announcing duties, as nearly every batter I announced was of Latin origin and therefore possessing a name with silent letters and, to me, unknown syllabic emphasis. But I got through it alright, and even aced a Wells Fargo ad read during a pitching change.

My copy: together we'll go far

PA native

Finally, I joined announcer Brice Zimmerman in the announcing booth for a long and exceedingly sloppy seventh inning. He let me attempt play-by-play on several occasions, and it was pretty brutal. This was an inning with rundowns, errors, suicide squeezes and more – a lot of crazy stuff happening in a short period. I was reduced to descriptions like “The ball is hit. Uh-oh! (long pause) Wow!” Stay tuned for the audio.

But I did enjoy speaking with Zimmerman: explaining what it is I do, the specifics of this current road trip, and how dignity is optional when I’m at the ballpark. Thanks for having me on!

There wasn’t much left for me to do at this point, so I reverted to taking pictures while inside the men’s room. I thought it was funny how, instead of mirrors, the team installed framed pictures of orange bricks.

Oh, and how could I forget? It was during this late juncture that I interviewed Dave Clark (again, I’ll write a feature on him upon my hopefully triumphant return to NYC. And, again, it’s a great story). Here he is with daughter Elecia:

Soon after I was done speaking with Clark, the visiting St. Lucie Mets emerged triumphant in the ballgame. That left one thing left to do, and one thing only: Launch-A-Ball!

Goodnight, Fort Myers, and thanks for the hospitality.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

And I Was Like “Bay Bay Bay Bay Bay Bay”

The latest and therefore greatest era in Southern League history kicked off last night, as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos played the first game of their incipient existence. And while you’d think the team hasn’t been around long enough to have any enemies, you’d be wrong.

Pensacola is the proverbial hop, skip, and a jump away from Mobile, home of the BayBears, and proximity breeds contempt. This contempt has now manifested itself in the form of the “Bay to Bay Series.

Sez the press release:

The Mobile BayBears and Pensacola Blue Wahoos are proud to announce their rivalry in the inaugural “Bay to Bay Series.” Fans can expect several rivalry themed events at both ballparks this year, including BayBears fans versus Blue Wahoos fans in-game contests, promotions and series leader boards.

The Bay-to-Bay Series is the very first joint-sponsored, event-based rivalry program in Minor League Baseball. Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile and Maritime Park in Pensacola are just one hour apart from each other.

The uber-snazzy logo seen above was designed by Brandiose, who were responsible for both teams’ logos in the first place. I do wonder, however, if Mobile fans are upset that Pensacola is the “home” team while the BayBears are clearly “second”ary.

You may remember a recent post in which I heaped praise upon the Charleston RiverDogs for their latest “Be Your Own Fan” initiative, featuring marketing initiatives geared to nine unique groups of fans. The Fort Myers Miracle, who are part of the same ownership group, have now done the same.

The eight categories of Miracle fans are as follows: the prospect, the fanatic, the family, the foodie, the brewskie, the retiree, the opportunist and the event seeker.Here’s how it looks, in action:

And now that it’s a new season, I imagine that you may need something new to read (that reasoning doesn’t really make sense, but just bear with me).

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ broadcasting/blogging dean Chris Mehring has posted his club’s 2012 intro songs. These posts are always a fascinating glimpse of the zeitgeist, and illustrate the diverse backgrounds of Minor League players.  (I do find it hard to believe that Seth Miller chose “What Is Love” on his own volition, however. And, for what it’s worth, I find “Narcissistic Cannibal” to be a far better song title than actual song.)

Meanwhile, from Kentucky, we have the what I believe to be the first blog from a Minor League host mother perspective. Check it out, while I sit here and wish that there was a similar program for underachieving bloggers.

I’ll close with — what else? — dessert. These “Mini Apple Pie Bites” are available for consumption at Toledo Mud Hens games this season.

Baseball sold separately.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

From 0-60 in 495 Words

The nationwide fraternity of Minor League mascots added its newest member this past Friday, as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos unveiled this fella to his presumably adoring public:

You may remember that I wrote about this Blue Wahoo a few weeks back, when he was nothing more than an artist’s rendering in search of a name. He has since been bestowed with a moniker, and will forevermore be known as “Kazoo.” Interestingly, the Blue Wahoos are referring to Kazoo as a “fictional aquatic creature” despite the fact that he clearly exists.

The Blue Wahoos are entering their inaugural season, but thanks to the inexorable passage of time they’ll eventually be celebrating anniversary seasons of varying degrees of importance. And when they do, there’s a good chance that they’ll put in a call to Studio Simon. I was recently alerted to the fact that this Louisville-based logo powerhouse has had a hand in three recent anniversary marks, celebrating seasons from 10 to 20 to 60.

Let’s review:

Aberdeen IronBirds, 10th Anniversary

I’d say that the above image is pretty much the definition of “self-explanatory.” So let’s move on.

Fort Myers Miracle, 20th Anniversary

Whereas the IronBirds mark needed no explanation, the above logo has a bit of a backstory. Dan Simon, the man behind the Studio Simon brand, reported in an email that:

The Miracle mark features the script font, and the teal and yellow color palette, that the team sported when they first moved from Miami to Fort Myers in 1992.  In fact, the team wore those colors for at least several campaigns before the move, which means that it was them, and not the team formerly known as the Florida Marlins, who deserve credit for officially bringing teal onto the baseball branding landscape.

But wait, there’s more:

As part of their 20th anniversary celebration this season, the Fort Myers Miracle will be wearing throwback uniforms  from 1992, their first year in Fort Myers after their move from Miami (a move necessitated by the fact that the Florida Marlins were taking over the Miami territory, starting in 1993).

The Miracle will be wearing the teal and yellow caps and jerseys for every Friday and Saturday home game during the 2012 season.  There will be a season-long jersey auction that will conclude at the final home game on September 1, when the highest bidders will win the jerseys.

A portion of the proceeds from that auction will benefit the Dave Clark Foundation, which as Simon notes, should “make you ‘Glad All Over.‘” That one deserves a high 5!

Billings Mustangs 60th Anniversary

I did write about that one already, but the above image is superior to that which I had before. And here at Ben’s Biz Blog, you know we only settle for the very best.

One thing is bothering me, though: is there a word for “60th anniversary”? If this was a 50th anniversary then I’d have the chance to drop “quinquagenary” and 75 brings the opportunity for “dodranscentennial.” But, for now, I’m at a loss for words.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

In the Absence of Whipped Cream: Other Delights

Everything’s Cyclical is what I named my (now-defunct) bike shop, but these two words apply to Minor League blogging as well. And in accordance with the natural rhythms of that particular cycle, it is now time for me to write a bit about ballpark food.

In comparison to past seasons, there haven’t been any media-baiting monstrosities unveiled as a means to generate interest in the coming baseball campaign. But, as always, there are some new concession stand items vying for your attention (and mine).

Down in Southwest Florida, the Fort Myers Miracle have premiered the Breakfast Brat (topped with bacon, egg, and a “drizzle” of maple syrup).

That looks like a wonderful concoction, but surely it’s not enough to satiate the appetite of the hungry blog reader. So for dessert, let’s head to that delicately-combined triumvirate of state names known as Delmarva. The Shorebirds are offering a “super-pretzel” this season, one that’s the size of five mortal pretzels and comes equipped with three toppings.

Apparently it is so tempting that the photographer ate some before taking the requisite glamor shot:

The team asked fans to give this pretzel a name, a query which generated an amazing 130 responses.

Some suggestions, such as “This does not look appetizing at all,” were not as clear and concise as the team would have liked. But many were, and among these “Pretzilla” was my favorite. My suggestion: Love Me Dough.

UPDATE: In response to a flurry of reader inquiries, I contacted the ShoreBirds in order to determine just what the above three toppings are. Your answer: Chocolate, strawberry, and cream cheese. AND THAT’S NOT ALL! The team is also offering a “savory” version of the pretzel, with toppings of pizza sauce, garlic butter, and nacho cheese.

Meanwhile, the Quad Cities River Bandits have asked fans to vote on what 2012′s new concession item will be. The choices are:

  • Chorizo Corn Dog
  • Mashed Potato Sundae
  • Smoked Turkey Leg
  • Deep Fried Pork Tenderloin
  • Fried Ravioli with Marinara
  • QC Steak Sandwich with BBQ Sauce & Cheddar Cheese

My choice is an emphatic one: the Chorizo Corn Dog. But, as is so often the case, my opinion has proven to be too esoteric. The QC Steak Sandwich is currently in first (voting ends today!), with the Chorizo Corn Dog a distant fourth.

Basically, I just wanted to write about a Chorizo Corn Dog. And it was all for naught.

This coulda been you, chorizo.

One team that is no stranger to fan voting are the West Michigan Whitecaps,  who, as is their custom, had fans vote on 10 potential new food items. As always, there were some interesting contenders.

How about some Scotch Eggs, followed by a deep-fried root beer float (ice cream sandwich dipped in root beer batter and deep fried)?

In college I used to call the above combo the “breakfast of champions,” but since then I’ve learned to consolidate. Now I just stick to deep-fried Scotch. But neither above the above two items will be on the 2012 menu. That honor goes to…well, I’ll let the team make the announcement, as they have done so in cinematic style.

Yes, the Westside Po’  Boy: sports kielbasa, pierogies and sauerkraut smothered in marinara sauce and loaded on a hoagie roll. It replaces last year’s winner “Chicks With Sticks” (celery, carrots, and hummus) which was — the horror! — actually good for you. Clearly, healthy eating at the ballpark is a concept that the American populace is not quite ready to embrace.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

An Anomalous Date Leads to Phenomenal Deals

Maybe it’s an example of my sticktuitiveness, maybe an example of stagnancy. Probably both. But, at any rate, I am able to begin today’s Leap Year post by looking at what I wrote about 2/29 the last time it rolled around.

So let’s leap to it!

San Jose's got the spirit!

The year was 2008. While most Americans were busy listening to the 10th anniversary edition of the Baha Men’s epochal Doong Spank LP, the Lancaster JetHawks made their presence felt by staging a Leap Year promo. Most notably, all fans with a leap year birthday received a box seat season ticket!

Not to be outdone, the Altoona Curve soon announced a season-long “Leip Year” celebration, all in honor of skipper Tim Leiper.

Leiper the Skipper

This one had the Rainmain-like fixation on numbers that is a hallmark of any good Minor League promotion, including the provision that if any Curve player was batting .366 after April 29′s ballgame, he (or she, you never know) would be awarded $366.

Maybe I’m just jaded, but I don’t think we’ve reached that level of inspiration in 2012. But a lot is going on. Here is a thorough (but by no means authoritative) rundown of who’s doing what how. Said rundown is in alphabetical order, but starting with “N” and then continuing back around through “M.”

Portland Sea Dogs

Most notably, the above deal includes a $29 Citgo gas card.

Trenton Thunder

$17 all-you-can-eat seats, to any game. I’m just not sure who would want to eat seats in the first place, though.

Stockton Ports

More bang for the buck than a bringing an exploding dollar bill along on a deer hunt! $29 gets four tickets to exhibition game vs. Triple-A Sacramento, four ticket vouchers to opening weekend, and two souvenir caps.

Fort MyersMiracle

Interesting twist to this one, in that the $29 ticket packages includes admission to all games falling on the 29th of the month.

Hagerstown Suns


This offer comes with a $29 concession stand credit. Beet eggs included?

Hudson Valley Renegades

Two extra games included with the purchase of a five or 10-game pack!

Huntsville Stars

A $95 savings!

Inland Empire 66ers

Buy a six or 12-game ticket pack, get an additional game free.

Lake Elsinore Storm

Self-explanatory.

This concludes THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE RECAP OF MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL LEAP DAY PROMOTIONS EVER ASSEMBLED. And yet I still don’t have my own Wikipedia page.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Big, the Old, and the Beautiful

Me: Today I have a really big news item to share with all of you.

You: Well, how big is it?

Me: 3600 feet.

You: [Blinks incomprehendingly]

Look, I don’t know why you’re confused. I really do have a 3600-foot news story to share.

This!

The above is a rendering of the scoreboard that, in March, is scheduled to be installed at AutoZone Park in Memphis. Per the team:

The scoreboard will be the largest HD board in minor league baseball at 3600 square feet (60’ X 60’). The current largest belongs to the Buffalo Bison, standing 80’ x 33’ (2640 square feet). The Redbirds video board also beats several of the NFL team boards installed by Daktronics. The board is made up of 1,440,000 pixels and weighs over 20 tons.

Indeed, it was just last season that the Bisons’ laid claim to the oft-contentious title of “biggest scoreboard in Minor League Baseball,” but it now appears that the Redbirds are wresting it from them. But for how long? There’s always someone out there lurking, just waiting for that opportunity to claim the throne. For now, however, pixellated supremacy belongs to Memphis.

Congrats.

—-

Let’s move on from big news to old news. In fact, this is some of the oldest news I’ve ever had the pleasure of reporting. Regular readers of this blog are well aware that each of the past two Minor League seasons have included a centenarian first pitch.

In 2010, 102-year-old Chris Nocera fired a strike for the Round Rock Express.

Then, last season, 109-year-old Violet Smith threw one down the middle prior to a Great Lakes Loons game.

DOB: April 7, 1902

But 2012 will usher in a new age of elderly first pitches: that of the supercentenarian!

On March 31, Shelby Harris of Rock Island, IL will turn 111 years old. Five days later, he’ll throw out the first pitch at the Quad Cities River Bandits home opener! Harris is the oldest man in America, and it’s fantastic that the River Bandits have extended the invite and that he’s in good enough shape to do it.

Harris celebrating his 110th (photo: http://www.army.mil)

—And now let’s move on to news from the department of “It was bound to happen eventually.”

The Lancaster JetHawks, a Houston Astros affiliate in the state of California, have put together a promotion inspired by the exploits of a Colorado quarterback who first made a name for himself in Florida.

This:

Details:

After last weekend’s thrilling overtime victory against the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers, [JetHawks mascot] KaBoom has convinced the JetHawks Front Office to put together a special “Tebow Tuesday” Promotion that gives JetHawks fans the opportunity to buy 15 tickets for only $15.

The Tebow Tuesday Promotion will activate if the Denver Broncos can pull off another upset this weekend against the New England Patriots. The package will only be available next Tuesday, January 17, and includes 15 undated ticket vouchers for any JetHawks home game in April. In addition, any fan who wears their Tim Tebow Jersey to the Tuesday, April 17, game against the High Desert Mavericks will have the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch and take a picture “Tebowing” with KaBoom on the field prior to the game.

According to my records, this is the first Tebow-related promo in Minor League Baseball since the Fort Myers Miracle announced (and were later forced to rescind) “What Would Tebow Do?”

And now, apropos of nothing, let’s end with a photo. This shot depicts one of the perks of being a mascot: being on the receiving end of sensuous acts initiated by Miss America contestants.

Silver Swoop of South Bend is one lucky bird:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The First of Many

After 365 days, we as a species have finally escaped from beneath 2011′s tyrannical yoke.

Happy 2012!

Not surprisingly, very little news of note emerged during the just-concluded holiday season. But, nonetheless, it is now my duty to get you up to speed. For starters, I am ashamed to admit that the unveiling of a Rookie-level team’s secondary logo somehow escaped my all-seeing eye. The team in question is the Grand Junction Rockies:

As you may recall, Grand Junction’s primary logo was unveiled in November (the team has re-located from Casper, where they were known as the Ghosts). Like the secondary logo, the primary logo is strongly influenced by the parent Colorado club. (And, as more than a few Tweeters/commenters/emailers pointed out to me, it may have been influenced by Pizza Hut as well.)

In any case, both logos were designed by Visual Intent. This marks a rare instance in which a Minor League logo was NOT designed by either Studio Simon or the newly-rechristened Brandiose.

Speaking of rare instances, very few teams offer ticket specials in conjunction with the New Year. But the Fort Myers Miracle have once again done just this, with their annual “Resolution Pack.”

Priced at $20.12 (natch), this overstuffed package capitalizes on January’s mania for self-improvement by offering the following:

*A $10 gift card for your nutritional needs and supplements from Mother Earth Natural Foods
*4-pack of Box Seat Ticket Vouchers to enjoy the Miracle in 2012
*One FREE week membership to Snap Fitness and a FREE training session
*One FREE Matt Booth Boot Camp Adventure
*One FREE financial planning session with Pasquale Evangelista with Raymond
 James & Associates

And with the new year comes HOT STOVE SEASON, when teams stoke anticipation for the upcoming season by hosting dinners highlighted by celebrity guests, giveaways, and memorabilia auctions. The Delmarva Shorebirds are putting a unique twist on the format this season, as the club is hosting a “bloggers roundtable.”

Says the team:

In addition to traditional guest speakers, the Shorebirds will host a roundtable conversation about a litany of topics. Guests will have the opportunity to engage the panelists during the roundtable and throughout the night.

“The new format really lends itself to passionate baseball fans that want to talk about the sport with those that cover it on a regular basis,” said general manager Chris Bitters.

If any teams wish to invite hopelessly obscure superstar blogger Ben’s Biz to a banquet, then shoot me an email and we’ll discuss the specifics of my appearance fee and backstage rider.

Finally, I’d like to offer a hearty congratulations to Scott Carter, the new director of marketing for the Durham Bulls. Carter’s previous Minor League gig was as a VP of marketing for the Fresno Grizzlies, where he implemented trend-setting promotions such as Twilight Night, Tweet-Ups, post-game mascot wrestling, and much more. Looking forward to seeing what he’ll be able to accomplish in Durham, a historic franchise with a strong fan base that competes in an excellent facility.

It was in Durham, in fact, that my current profile picture was taken. I ended up wearing this hat for 43 days straight.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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