Results tagged ‘ Fort Myers Miracle ’

In-vest-ing in the Ridiculous

We live in a strange and unpredictable world, but amidst the daily uncertainty there are aspects of our existence that remain reliable and consistent.

For example, at least once a year the Fort Myers Miracle will attract national media attention by staging satirical sports promotion. Some recent highlights:

2010: Dress Like Craig Sager Night

2009: What Would Tim Tebow Do Night? (later rescinded)

2007: Billy Donovan Night (MiLB.com’s “Promotion of the Year”)

And let’s not forget “Mike Tyson Ear Night”, “The World According to Sir Charles”, and “Don’t Be A Bengal, Be A Good Citizen Night.”

And then there was what took place last night — “Rest the Vest,” poking fun at the signature sartorial stylings of scandal-soaked Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.

Details:

The new coach of the Buckeyes presumably will not wear sweater vests on the sidelines; so it’s time to retire them. Fans are encouraged to bring their sweater vest and place it in the retirement bin near the front gate of Hammond Stadium.

The Miracle want everyone to enjoy the “Rest the Vest” Night and even though you might not have a favorite sweater vest, if you have a tattoo then you also benefit.

Some pictures from the evening:

This all leads me to a bigger question — are topical but not necessarily locally-connected promotions worth doing? The Miracle obviously think so — after all, it put them in the national spotlight yet again. Google “Fort Myers Miracle Jim Tressel” and see for yourself.

But I’ve spoken to quite a few Minor League employees who don’t see the point in staging a promotion that lacks a local connection. If it doesn’t energize and engage the hometown fans, then why bother? National attention is all well and good, but not at the expense of alienating or exasperating the fans showing up at the ballpark on a regular basis.

It’s not all so cut and dry, of course, and this is perhaps an issue worth exploring in further depth. But, for now, thrill to the sight of a costumed Bat getting hit with a ball.

As far as I can tell, the ball went into Buddy’s mouth and stayed there. The pitcher and the catcher were wholly unconcerned, however, retrieving a new ball without so much as a second glance.

But you may want to give this photo gallery a second glance, seeing as it features images from the West Michigan Whitecaps’ “Led Zeppelin Night.”

Moving on from a uninspired segue to no segue at all, I recently came across the between-inning innovation that is the Team Trax logo race.I have yet to see one of these in action, but definitely seems like something that could catch on.

Let’s hear it for teamwork!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Taking A Vested Interest in Tattoos and Toast

Two blatantly “attention-getting” Minor League promos were announced yesterday, but only one thus far has gotten any real attention (this blog doesn’t count, attention from me is the equivalent of your mother telling you you’re the most handsome guy at school).

First, the Fort Myers Miracle announced that June 6 would be “Rest the Vest Night,” in honor of recently-ousted Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. That it was the Miracle who have planned such a thing should come as no surprise. This is, after all, a team that has previously set its sights on Billy Donovan, Tim Tebow, and Craig Sager (among many other easily-satirized sports world luminaries).

Some pertinent details:

The new coach of the Buckeyes presumably will not wear sweater vests on the sidelines; so it’s time to retire them. Fans are encouraged to bring their sweater vest and place it in the retirement bin near the front gate of Hammond Stadium….The Miracle want everyone to enjoy the “Rest the Vest” Night and even though you might not have a favorite sweater vest, if you have a tattoo then you also benefit.

Just by showing a tattoo, Ohio State or non-related, fans will receive a piece of Miracle memorabilia to keep or sell.

And speaking of tattoos, the Brooklyn Cyclones announced what I believe is the Minors’ first “Hangover”-related promotion. It takes place June 22, and fans interested in attending may wish to purchase the “Wolfpack Ticket Plan.” The evening includes the following innovations:

  • In-Game Baby Bjorn Olympics – Contestants will be put through an obstacle course while carrying “Carlos” in a baby carrier.
  • Memory Games w/Prizes – If fans can “Remember What Happened Last Night” in the Cyclones’ previous game, prizes will be awarded.
  • The Tooth Fairy – Kids get a dollar off their ticket for each tooth they are missing. 
  • Tattoo You! – Temporary face tattoos will be available on the concourse.
  • Beard Bash – Best beard contest in honor of Alan (played by Zach Galifanakis).

And still speaking of tattoos, tonight the Clearwater Threshers are holding their second annual “Tattoo Night” promotion. 30 fans will go under the needle (the team is limiting the number after a nearly unmanageable 54 got inked last season) and receive a Threshers tattoo in return for lifetime admission to the ballpark. Like this guy:

That’s all I’ve got that’s tattoo-related (it wasn’t even my intent to write about tattoos when I started this post), but in an attempt to stay alliterative here’s some toast news from Toledo.

As you may be able to discern from the above photo, that’s some Mud Hen logo toast. And it can be enjoyed in the privacy of your own home with the purchase of the following toaster:

Are any other teams selling one of these? I’ve seen them at the Major League level, but not within the Minors.

But for those seeking heartier dining options, I’d suggest checking out the new website postgamespread.com It’s bare-bones in terms of design, but excellent in content: a fully searchable database of dining options in all Minor League markets that includes directions from the ballpark as well as team hotel. I might use it myself during my next road trip — details on that coming soon, I hope.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

I Blog in the East, I Blog in the West

…And I come to give you more, and I never give you less….Let’s go!

If you “Look At Me Now” you’ll find me in NYC, but at this time tomorrow I’ll be flying the friendly skies, airbound toward the arid. Look for “on location” blog posts, articles, and interviews the rest of this week into next, as I spend time in Tucson, Lancaster, High Desert, Inland Empire, and Lake Elsinore (and maybe more, logistics permitting).

But before all that, a good old-fashioned blog bouillabaisse of relevant Minor League biz-ness news (and, for the record, never have I spelled “bouillabaisse” correctly on the first try).

This week’s “Farm’s Almanac” is on the Minor League response to the Alabama tornadoes, and can be read HERE. Mentioned briefly in the story, and something I’d like to emphasize here, is that the Burlington Bees are raising money for the family of grounds crew intern Cody Wales, whose home was leveled by the tornado.

The team has been raising money at the ballpark, and checks to benefit the Cody Wales Family can be sent to the Bees front office at 2712 Mt. Pleasant Street, P.O. Box 824, Burlington, IA 52601.

—-

It’s Tuesday, meaning a new “Promotion Preview” column is up on MiLB.com. It was an admittedly slow week for promos, and I am heartened by the fact that next week’s column gives me more than twice as much notable stuff to choose from. I  once again implore you to keep in touch, with info on upcoming promos as well as recaps of those past. I cannot stress this enough! The current soporific state of my inbox leaves much to be desired.

Highlighted in a previous column was the Richmond Flying Squirrels “High Five World Record Attempt,” in which mascot Nutzy attempted to set a new standard for “most high fives by an individual in an hour.” And indeed he did (though yet to be verified by Guinness), slapping palms with 1620 fans.

Featured in last week’s column — and happening TONIGHT — is the Memphis Redbirds’ 30th Anniversary Salute to Charlie Lea’s No-Hitter (Lea now works as a color commentator for the club). The Redbirds are pulling out all the stops with this one, going so far as to tweak an immensely popular viral video.

An event that should have been included, but was instead egregiously overlooked, was the Durham Bulls’ return to iconic Durham Athletic Park yesterday. This video sums up the evening very well:

The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor wasn’t overlooked, but perhaps should have been. As this video points out, the use of the word “vendor” in his job title is blatantly misleading.

But in the end, Minor League Baseball is more about the overall experience than any specific promotion. The Fort Myers Miracle have put together an ad campaign that emphasizes this point very well. My embedding capabilities are lacking in this case, but they can be viewed HERE. And while you’re at it, check out this local newspaper story about the Miracle Bullpen and its trusty Justin Beiber backpack.

And, yes, the story features a photo of Bruce Pugh heading to the bullpen while wearing the backpack — a triumvirate of BPs, and possibly a foursome if he happened to be heading there after batting practice.

I’m now less than 24 hours from saying goodbye to the East Coast.  The next time you’ll hear from me I’ll be writing in an agitated late-night state from some hotel room, binging on Mello Yello and wondering what’s it all for.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Rodents, Rallying, and the Combination Thereof

I ended yesterday’s post with some Quick Hits. In order to hold the attention of an increasingly ADD-addled populace I’ll continue on that front today.

Let’s start with this video out of Portland, ME, featuring an unusual inter-species friendship that has developed out in the Hadlock Field bullpen.

But those in attendance at yesterday’s Sea Dogs game wouldn’t have been able to witness such a serene display of sunflower consumption. Let’s just say that the visibility wasn’t optimal:

But Minor League rodents come in many forms, as evidenced by the recent debut of the Stockton Ports’ “Rally Rat.” The team explains that this critter, originally a sewer dweller, “found himself under the lights of Banner Island Ballpark, surrounded by the roar of Stockton Ports baseball fans, who were hoping to see their team take the win for the night. In his excitement, the rat scurried onto the field and joined in with the cheering. Little did he know, his presence on the field that night would bring a wave of good luck over the team that would help them defeat their opponents.”

An even more mysterious offense igniter is the Delmarva Shorebirds’ “Rally Banana,” credited with spurring a pair of comebacks in the team’s extra-inning win over Savannah on April 26. The time is ripe for this fruitful fellow, whose bid for mass a-peel includes his own Facebook page.

Chiquita him out:


A more comprehensive view of the Minor League experience is currently being provided by the Fort Myers Miracle, who just released episode two of their excellently-produced “Miracle Insider Show.”

And, finally, you may have heard that the city of Altoona is temporarily changing its name to “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, PA” (in conjunction with the release of Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary on corporate product placement). Does this mean that the hometown team will soon become “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Curve”?

No, it doesn’t. Declares the team:

[W]e won’t be changing our name at this point because of the obvious logistical issues involved.  I don’t even know if we could fit that many letters on to a jersey.  We will be participating in [Wednesday]’s City Council proclamation with our main mascot, Steamer, and are pleased that this effort…will benefit the Altoona City Police Department.”

Looks like the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will be able to retain their “longest team name in the Minor Leagues” title. But for how long?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Nouns of Multitude, Video Edition

pride.jpgOne of the more curious aspects of the English language is the number of collective nouns devoted to identifying groups of specific bird and animal species.

You know — a pride of lions, a clan of hyenas, a colony of bats, etc. Unfortunately, however, there is no collective noun that describes a group of YouTube videos that are all embedded within the same blog post.

So I’m going to make one up.

Today’s post, then, features a flapdoodle of videos. Enjoy!

Let’s start with this celebrity-filled promo video recently unveiled by the Iowa Cubs, entitled “The I-Cubs Are My Cubs.” None other than the President of The United States makes an appearance!

Update: I-Cubs director of logistics Scott Sailor explains how the team landed Obama’s less-than-unequivocal endorsement:

We filmed Obama here in 2007 when he was a candidate — the Iowa Caucuses were inicubsmycubs.gif January 2008 — and many of them made stops at the ballpark. Sam Brownback! Chris Dodd!

Obama was the only one we thought to film — and remember, at this time he was a long shot.

We pounced on him in the radio booth after he was on the air for an inning and asked him to say “The I-Cubs Are My Cubs” like everyone else…but he wouldn’t…he’s a Sox fan…but he did compromise and give us the footage we have.

Meanwhile, a fresh triumvirate of mascot-themed videos have been unleashed upon an unsuspecting public.

Moving from Obama to Omaha, it has become apparent that Casey’s offseason life is no longer average. The slugging Storm Chaser was at the Kansas City Royals Fan Fest last weekend in order to take part in the hallowed tradition that is the Mascot Home Run Derby.

Meanwhile, in Akron, Orbit has overcome his malaise and is earnestly preparing himself for next month’s “Tackle the Tower” challenge. 

Finally, the Fort Myers Miracle have released the first installment of what may shape up to be an epic serialized mystery. Sparky the Hamster has gone missing!
 

And — hey! — it’s Gratuitous Video Friday. Or, in this case, Even More Gratuitous Video Friday. I’ll end this blogging week with my new answer to the eternal question “What would be your at-bat walk-up music?”
 

We’ll all be back on Monday for the punchline of the joke.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

The One-Der Of It All

jack.jpgHello, and Happy New Year.

I would like to begin 2011 by employing my favorite kind of metaphor — a belabored one. Over the next three months, Minor League Baseball teams will be turning the lever on the jack-in-the-box that is their operation. They will do this, with increasing speed and intensity, until the cadence of the calliope reaches a fever pitch. And then — BAM! — out pops the 2011 season.

From that point forward (assume determined, gravelly tone): It’s On!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The gears are turning rather slowly right now, but as long as they’re moving I’ve got something to write about.

Let’s start with some news that came out of Trenton this morning, as the ever-reliable Thunder have announced a promotion that has an obsessive, Rainman-like numbers fixation.

Take it away, press release.

The calendar will reach 1/11/11 next week and the Trenton Thunder…have taken the lead in the sports world by recognizing the
number one‘s historical day. The team selected their number one value-driven promotional game on the 2011 schedule and will have an early one-day release for individual tickets to that exclusive game.

On Tuesday, January 11th the Thunder will open up 1,111 tickets for their Friday, April 15th game against the Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals). On the 15th, for the advanced ticket price of $11, fans can enjoy free Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers throughout the game.

My thoughts, as they often do, turn to music. Songs that should be heard at the ballpark on this special evening include “One” (Metallica gets precedence over U2), “One Is the Loneliest Number” (Nilsson version, please!), and, of course, “What a 1-derful World.”

But the Thunder aren’t the only 1 doing a special 2011-based ticket offer. Down in Fort Myers, the Miracle have their own ideas on how to commemorate time’s inexorable passage.

2011.jpgPress release, I’m looking in your direction:

The Miracle are pleased to present the “Miracle NewYear’s Resolution Pack”.

That’s right, a pack that gets one a free week membership to Fort Myers Fitness, a gift card for your nutritional needs and supplements from Mother Earth Natural Foods,
PLUS a 4-pack of Miracle tickets — all yours for the New Year’s price of $20.11.

It should go without saying, but this stupendous offer is only available through 1/11/11 at 11 a.m. (come on guys, I think you should extend the deadline to 11:11).

Moving on to less numerically-based news, I’d like to focus your attention on a quite-awesome piece of ultra-limited Minor League apparel: The Bowling Green Cave Shrimp Hat, designed by the taste-making impresarios over at Plan B Branding.

caveshrimphat.png
As regular readers of this blog know, this iconic sightless crustacean has already been celebrated in a series of reality-bending game day promotions staged by the Bowling Green Hot Rods. May the power of the cave shrimp only continue to grow.

Okay, I believe that’s enough lever-turning for one day. But, please, this blog needs constant fuel or else it will wither and die. Do your part by contacting me through the following channels:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

It's News To Me

betterlate.jpgDuring the offseason, I stay on top of any and all team name, logo, and mascot changes. But if announcements of this nature are made during the season, it is possible that they may slip through the proverbial cracks.

Three such items indeed went unremarked upon (by me) when they were first announced, but today’s post will set everything right with the world. Here, then, is a round-up of that which I neglected.

Generally Speaking — Last month, it was revealed that the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx would henceforth be known as the Jackson Generals.

general.jpg

 The new team is a nod to the region’s rich baseball history. Let us journey now to the press release:

According to Kevin McCann, author of “Jackson Diamonds – Professional Baseball in Jackson, “The name Jackson Generals has a rich history of unusual plays and colorful players. Some of the players who’ve spent time on the diamond in Jackson include Shoeless Joe Jackson, Edd Rousch, John McGraw, Ellis Kinder, Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Joe Garagiola, Tony Kubek, and many others.” 

The team announced the name change immediately following the conclusion of the regular season, an announcement punctuated with some thoughtful nods to the past:

Throwing out the last pitch of the regular season as the Diamond Jaxx was Ms. Jane Des Ormeaux, the 93-year-old fan who doesn’t miss a game. She also is the fan who came up with the name West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. The first pitch as the Jackson Generals was thrown by local businessman Walt Mestan. Mestan, a Chicago native, was one of the leading pitchers for the 1950 and 1951 Jackson Generals.

Miraculous Changes — While not quite as dramatic as a name change, the Fort Myers Miracle will be wearing new uniforms in 2011.

miraculous.jpg

Sez the team: The new uniforms will feature hats that are a lighter shade of navy blue than is currently being worn. The uniforms will also be without pinstripes for the first time since 1993 and feature the current Minnesota Twins logo on the left sleeve.

miracleuni.jpgThe new identity was developed in coordination with Studio Simon, similar to a General in that they are a leader in the field.

Addition By Subtraction– On August 31, the West Virginia Power unveiled their new mascot. His name is Chuck, and he replaces the five (!) costumed characters the team had previously employed. No pictures of Chuck seem to exist on the club’s website or Facebook page, but this local newspaper article picks up the slack.

So what else have I missed out on over the last six weeks? Let me know, because my powers of oversight are boundless.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

An NFL of an Idea

craw2.pngNFL training camp is in session, meaning that baseball’s months-long dominance of the American sports landscape is coming to a close.

But instead of lamenting this fact, Minor League Baseball teams are having fun with it.

On Thursday, the Hickory Crawdads are staging the “Haynesworth Conditioning Challenge” in honor of the fitness test that Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth has been unable to pass.

From the press release:

haynes.jpg

All participants will have to complete the same conditioning test
that Haynesworth has failed multiple times, which is as follows:

1. Twelve consecutive 25-yard dashes (300 total yards) in less than 70 seconds

2. Rest period of 3.5 minutes

3. Twelve more consecutive 25-yard dashes in less than 73 seconds

All participants that successfully complete the challenge in the
allotted time will win two season tickets for the rest of the 2010
season, including all potential playoff games. All participants that
attempt the challenge will receive a free ticket to a future game this
season (excluding Aug. 14). Since Albert’s had multiple shots at it,
any fans that attempt and fail the challenge on Thursday can come back
to L.P. Frans Stadium any time between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. this Friday and
try again.

While this promotion is definitely happening, the same can’t be said for the Fort Myers Miracle’s “Brett Favre Night.” The team may or may not stage a tribute to the Vikings QB on Monday, and their maddeningly indecisive and contradictory press release provides no clear insight whatsoever.  

But who needs football anyways? Those enamored with the out-of-breath exertions of larger-than-average men got more than their fill in Lakewood last week. As part of the BlueClaws’ “Goonies Night” celebration, Jeff “Chunk” Cohen judged a “Truffle Shuffle” contest:

truffleshuffle.jpg

Think that that guy could pass the Haynesworth Conditioning Challenge?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

Sartorial Splendor in Fort Myers

Craig Sager, “America’s Sideline Reporter”, has developed a well-earned reputation as the loudest, tackiest dresser in all of televised sports journalism:

 
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Sager made many professional pit stops along the way to suit jacket-based national recognition, one of which was Fort Myers, FL (in the 70s, he was a sportscaster for a station with the excellent call letters of WINK).

The esteemed reporter’s Fort Myers connection was all the motivation the hometown Miracle needed to stage a promotion in his honor, as Tuesday was “Dress Like Craig Sager Night” at Hammond Stadium.

Fort Myers_Sager_groupshot.JPG

The winner of the evening’s “Best Dressed” contest was this individual:
 
Fort Myers_Sager_concoursedude.JPG

Here he is atop the dugout, along with a fellow loud dresser and, of course, an ape:

Fort Myers_Sager_dugout.JPG

Meanwhile, I haven’t seen a pink mic this big since Mr. Golic participated in a breast cancer awareness promotion:

Fort Myers_Sager_giantmic.JPG

Before closing out this post I must draw your attention to a just-announced promotion happening in Omaha, one that has resulted in the most amusing headline of “Korn, Dogs on Tap Monday at Rosenblatt.” Here’s the scoop:

The rock group Korn will be playing a sold-out concert at Sokol
Auditorium on the night of Monday, May 24th. Before the show, the
group’s lead singer, Jonathan Davis, will throw out a ceremonial first
pitch prior to the Omaha Royals 6:35 p.m. game vs. the Colorado Springs
Sky Sox at Rosenblatt Stadium….Monday night’s game is also $1 hot dog night

Brilliant…Just brilliant.

benjamin@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

Pictures Tell the Story

800px-Photographer.jpgA post earlier this week was dedicated to the preponderance of top-quality videos that had recently arisen from the vast Minor League landscape. But lest anyone think I’m giving short shrift to the still image, today’s entry will feature a few of the many photos I have recently received.

So let’s, as they say, get to it.

Yesterday was Earth Day, spurring teams across the country to spout their environmental bonafides in fortuitously-timed press releases. But only one club is currently featuring both a power-generating hamster as well as a fanatical wearer of an all-encompassing green body suit.

That club would be the Fort Myers Miracle:

hamedit.JPG

Sez the team:

Sparky makes appearances nightly to run in a hamster wheel…for a half-inning the entire ballpark is energized thru his swiftness. If Sparky slows down the lights on the scoreboard may dim.

While Sparky is running to his little heart’s content, the newly introduced “Green Guy” keeps the inside of the stadium clean.

Greeners.JPG

Let’s move from Southwest Florida to South Bend, Indiana. There, the Silver Hawks staged their annual “Halfway to Halloween Night” promotion. The evening featured discounted admission to those in costume, such as these characters:
 
South Bend -- Pirate, Clowns, Zombies.JPG

That Pirate up there on the right was the winner of the costume contest, marking the first time since 1992 that the Pirates were able to win anything. His “booty” was a pair of round-trip airfare tickets, which he gripped with gusto:

South Bend -- Pirate Halloween.JPG 

This youngster was proclaimed the winner in the youth category, and for good reason. This is the embodiment of rock ‘n roll swagger right here:

South Bend -- Elvis Halloween.JPG 

Regular readers of my weekly “Promotion Preview” column (and aren’t you all?) will recall Bowie’s “Outdoorsman Night”, a salute to fresh air recreational activities. Cold weather put somewhat of a damper on the proceedings, but nonetheless the show went on. Here’s a ballpark image you don’t see every day:

Bowie - Outdoors -- Buck.JPG

Baysox media relations director Tom Sedlacek, who sent these pictures, writes “I’m not exactly sure what this race was, but contestants had to put on all the camo gear and run.” Sounds reasonable enough to me!

bowie -- outdoors -- camo.JPG

Sedlacek also wrote that “neither contestant in the duck call competition actually knew how to use the duck call.” There is something about this image that saddens me.

And when I feel down, there’s only one thing that can lift my spirits: baseball-themed adolescent folk art. The Bowling Green Hot Rods staged “Art Night” earlier this month, which was highlighted by a calendar giveaway featuring youthful interpretations of the Bowling Green Baseball experience.

I don’t know what it is, exactly, but this drawing in particular really speaks to me:

Bowling Green -- Art Night.JPG

Kudos to this young artisan, may he (or she) go on to a creative career of colossal consequence.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

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