Results tagged ‘ Fresno Grizzlies ’

Something For Everyone

Lots of flotsam and jetsam has piled up on the shores of Ben’s Biz Blog remote island headquarters, and the only way to deal with such excess detritus is by accumulating it into a tidy pile.

Nice to get a belabored analogy out of the way so early. Let’s go to the info!

First of all, a pair of Pacific Coast League announcers are on the cusp of celebrating significant milestones. Tonight in Des Moines, Deene Ehlis will call his 3000th game for the Iowa Cubs. The broadcast will also be notable in that it’ll include an interview with Indianapolis Colts receiver (and University of Iowa alum) Dallas Clark, who has been immortalized by the I-Cubs in bobblehead form.

Then on Tuesday, Steve Klauke of the Salt Lake Bees call his 2500th contest:

Reports the team:

Klauke joins legendary Utah Jazz broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley (2,645) as the only two play-by-play broadcasters to call 2,500 games with one Utah team. He also becomes just the fourth current Pacific Coast League team broadcaster to reach the 2,500 games-called mark with one PCL team. Currently in his 18th season with the Bees, Klauke can be heard live on 1320 KFAN and at slbees.com.

Klauke will be recognized during a pregame presentation on Tuesday, April 26, while audio highlights of his more notable calls will be played throughout the game.

Trivia Question! Who are the other two current PCL broadcasters to have called at least 2500 games? The first person to email me with the correct response will get to contribute 150 words to a future blog post on whatever topic they choose (must be family friendly, of course). benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Since we’re on the topic of the PCL , it is well worth pointing out that the Fresno Grizzlies are staging a Saturday night tribute to severely (and senselessly) injured San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow.

In the words of the team:

Fans can purchase a Super View ticket and special Bryan Stow bracelet for $15, with $10 going directly to The Bryan Stow Fund, established to support Bryan and his family. Stow is a paramedic with American Medical Response and works games for the San Francisco’s Single-A affiliate, the San Jose Giants, at Municipal Stadium.

As you’ll recall, the aforementioned San Jose ballclub is dedicating the month of April to Stow.

I might as well stay with the PCL, as yesterday Sacramento and Reno upped the stakes of their rivalry via a bet between each city’s classic car museum. Typical, right?


Pertinent details:

The annual season series between the Reno Aces and the Sacramento River Cats will take on new significance in 2011, as the two host cities’ auto museums will face off in a high profile wager based on the overall winner of the season series. Reno’s very own National Automobile Museum will put up the 1949 Mercury that James Dean drove in “Rebel Without a Cause,” while Sacramento’s California Auto Museum will put up a 1932 Ford raced by driving legend AJ Foyt.

The RiverCats have owned the Aces as of late. Reno’s win on 4/19 snapped a 12-game losing streak against Sacramento, with their previous victory having come exactly a year previous. (My knowledge truly knows no boundaries, a fact that I’ll tell myself many times over tonight while sitting in an easy chair and drinking whiskey in a darkened living room.)

But anyway, can you believe that I’ve made it this far before featuring a new food item that laughs in the face of death? What follows is the Lancaster JetHawks’ new “Heart-Stopper” a limited time only delicacy consisting of a hot dog on biscuits, smothered in sausage gravy, cheese, and bacon.

I actually think this one looks pretty good! If only concession items could safely and sensibly be sent via the United States post office…

Until that day arrives, I’ll be amusing myself with humorous videos. This one, featuring the clumsy ball-handling skills of Durham Bulls hurler Mike Ekstrom, is a must-see instant classic.

That’s going to close out the week for me. But before I go, may I direct your attention to my latest “Farm’s Almanac” piece on MiLB.com? Professor Joe Price is singing the National Anthem at over 100+ ballparks this summer, and he’s truly a man on a mission. From the story:

“I always love for people to join in, and for the anthem to be sung together regardless of political orientation,” said Price. “This can, potentially, be everyone’s national anthem. And as a result it can bridge the gap between the Tea Party and liberals, between hawks and doves. Because, even though it is a wartime song, it was written as a celebration of freedom. The preservation of our freedoms is what lies at the heart of it.”

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Leader Among Followers

telegram.JPGAt this juncture in the space-time continuum, nearly everyone agrees that proactive social media engagement is crucial to a team’s operation.

But how, exactly, to engage?

One Minor League team that has been leading the virtual charge is the Fresno Grizzlies. The team has held innovative “Tweet-Up” promotions in each of the last two seasons (which were summarily copied by parent club the San Francisco Giants), and this past week they enticed fans to join them on Twitter by staging a drawing for Hot Stove Dinner tickets that was only open to new followers.

This most recent effort made the Grizzlies the first team in the Pacific Coast League to eclipse the 5000 followers milestone, and to celebrate they’re offering an exclusive ticket deal. Sez the team:

The package includes a Field Box seat for all four games of opening weekend…as well as aThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for fresno g.jpg number of special perks.
In addition to the tickets, fans will also get a pregame, behind-the-scenes tour of the ballpark on Friday, a pregame catch on the field on Saturday, and a post-game photo in the dugout on Sunday all for just $40. The tickets alone are a $64 value, and the special ballpark experiences are available only through this ticket package.

I spoke with Grizzlies media relations director Noah Frank, who remarked that “We’re always looking for new ways to keep people tuned in, and this is a great way to get info to our fans.”

pcl.jpgIt’s also a great way to maintain a rivalry, as the Grizzlies recent Twitter surge gave them more followers than previous PCL leader the Reno Aces.

“With a new ballpark and a new team, [the Aces] started with a lot of momentum. But we pride ourselves at being at the forefront and we’re coming on strong,” said Frank.

While that’s exceedingly mild as trash talk goes, it’s good enough for me. Your move, Reno!

Another excellent social media initiative, and one that I’ve written about before, was the Durham Bulls’ fundraising drive on behalf of the Durham Literacy Center. The team, which donated $1 to the center for every new fan they acquired on Facebook, announced today that $2000 was raised.

This idea is simple and easily adaptable, and I will be a crestfallen blogger if no other teams follow suit. Get to copying!

And, of course, let me know what YOU have been up to when it comes to social media initiatives. In the meantime, I’ll be stressing over the fact that this post didn’t have any good jokes (me to jokes: “I can’t live, if living is without you.”)

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

Promo Year in Review, Part Three: Celebrity Appearances

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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.

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

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Lakewood BlueClaws — Jeff “Chunk” Cohen (as part of “Goonies Night”)

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(note: that’s Cohen on the right, judging a “Truffle Shuffle” contest)

Oklahoma City RedHawks — Peter Mayhew (aka “Chewbacca”)

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Reading Phillies — Dennis “Mr. Belding” Haskins

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Round Rock Express — Rojo Johnson (aka Will Ferrell)

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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:

BillLee.jpg

 

OilCan.jpg

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?

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

Promo Year in Review, Part Two: Theme Nights

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The Promo Year In Review train is rolling along right on schedule, making a stop today at teeming “Theme Night” station.

It was very difficult for me to narrow this category down to a Top Six, as there were a lot of great contenders. As always, I tried to put a premium on originality, and ample photo and video documentation certainly influenced the decision-making process as well.

Two more finalists will be added to this list based on reader suggestions, so get in touch via email or Twitter regarding YOUR favorite Minor League theme night of the year. Suggestions for all categories will be accepted through 10 a.m. on Monday, September 27.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz
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My six nominees, in sweet, sweet alphabetical order. Click on the Promo name to see how it was originally covered.

Brooklyn Cyclones — Jersey? Sure! Night

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Fresno Grizzlies — Twilight Night

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Lake County Captains — Please Stay LeBron Night

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Lake Elsinore Storm — Obscure Sports Night

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Reading Phillies — Salute to the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor

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Trenton Thunder — World Cup Night (with on-field baby race)

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Omissions, both egregious and understandable, are easily rectified via the power of electronic communication.

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

A Day In the Life

tomorrow.jpgTomorrow, as it’s been said, is only a day away. And tomorrow’s tomorrow, when it becomes the present, presents a bountiful array of enticing presents to fans gracing Minor League ballparks with their presence.

Wishing to continue my reign as a preeminent prescient promotional prognosticator, I now present this truncated list of just what, exactly, is taking place tomorrow. Taken in toto, it serves to illuminate the the voluminous vitality of the Minor League landscape.

I know many of you would like to punch me in the face after reading the above two paragraphs, but you can’t. I’m light years away, and ensconced in bubble wrap. 

To the list!

Hank Conger Bobblehead Giveaway (Arkansas Travelers) — In honor of the switch-hitting backstop who suited up for the team in ’08 and ’09.

William Seward Bobblehead Giveaway (Auburn Doubledays) — In honor of NewThumbnail image for seward.jpg Yorkstate’s 12tgh governor, who suited up for the commonwealth from 1839-1842. He later served as Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln. Now he’s a bobblehead.

Three World Record Attempts (Bowie Baysox) — As detailed in this week’s “Promotion Preview” column, the Baysox are attempting to reach new heights in the categories of “Most People Sitting on a Whoopee Cushion”, “Most People Doing ‘The Twist'”, and “Most People Engaged in Simultaneous Air Guitar.”

Farmer Axle Bobblehead (Bowling Green Hot Rods) — It’s “Agriculture Night” in Bowling Green, hence a giveaway featuring a tractor-driving mascot.

Lumberstock (Clinton LumberKings) — An all-day festival featuring live music, cornhole tournaments, and plenty of food and drink. “Wood”n’t you like to go?

hooks.jpgRetro Jersey Giveaway (Corpus Christi Hooks) — An inimitable item mimicking the ’80s incarnation of parent club the Houston Astros.

Ryan Dempster Theme Jersey Auction (Daytona Cubs) — Proceeds benefit the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation.

Buster Posey Bobblehead (Fresno Grizzlies) — If you want one of these then you better Buster move to Chukchansi Park.

Jimmy Hart Appearance (Lexington Legends) — The “Mouth of the South” attempts to devour Applebee’s Park.

Ladies Night w/ Rafe Hernandez (Mahoning Valley Scrappers) — The “Days of Our Lives”rafe.jpg star visits Eastman Field, delighting fans with hourglass figures.

Jacoby Ellsbury Bobblehead (Pawtucket Red Sox) — Free to the first 4000 fans age 14 and under. Or at least those, like Ellsbury, who can pass for 14.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Jerry Lawler Appearance (Richmond Flying Squirrels) — Because two legendary grapplers are always better than one, unless they gang up on you.

A few odds and ends before closing up shop:

– A new “Farm’s Almanac” feature is up now, about the Frederick Keys’ “Volt Night” and executive chefs in Minor League Baseball. “Volt Night”, in which Top Chef’s Bryan Voltaggio manned a concession stand, was a huge hit in Frederick (attracting a near-sellout crowd on a Tuesday night). The Baltimore Sun ran an excellent recap and photo gallery of the event.

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– For sheer wordplay lunacy, it will be hard to top the Huntsville Stars’ September 6 promotion. The game will be preceded by the “Okra Win-Free Labor Day Marathon”. 103 people will split the duties of running the race (no one will “win”, see?) and okra will be a side dish in the steak dinner following the race. Plus, an invitation has been extended to Oprah Winfrey, who once ran a marathon. The entire event should be soundtracked by THIS.

– Finally, from the “Why Didn’t I Think of That” department, the Lancaster JetHawks have passed along word that they’re planning a “90210 Night” promotion for September 2. Get it? 9/02/10. It’s been right there in front of us, all along.

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

Arcane and Able in Fresno

Minor League Baseball promotions are nothing if not timely, and one would be hard-pressed to find one timelier than what’s going down in Fresno tonight

In honor of Don Mattingly’s much-ballyhooed ignorance of an obscure baseball regulation, the Grizzlies are staging Rule 8.06 Night. 
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Explains the team: 
On Tuesday night, acting Dodgers manager Don Mattingly made a visit to reliever Jonathan Broxton on the pitcher’s mound. Upon returning towards the dugout, and after leaving the 18-foot mound circle, Mattingly doubled back to speak to Broxton again, thereby constituting a second visit. This required Broxton to be removed from the game, pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 8.06 (b):

A second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning will cause this pitcher’s automatic removal from the game

We all know what happened from there: Broxton was removed, George Sherrill was inserted in his place, and Adrian Torres promptly hit a go-ahead two-run double to give the Giants a lead they would not relinquish. 

The Grizzlies are a Giants affiliate, and therefore Mattingly’s ignorance of Rule 8.06 is to be celebrated. Thus, 

any fan who purchases a ticket to Thursday’s game (first visit), then makes a return trip to the box office that night (second visit), bringing his or her game ticket back to the window and mentioning Rule 8.06, will receive a free ticket to either the Tuesday, July 27 or Wednesday, July 28 home games against the Tacoma Rainiers.

Brilliant, right? In celebration of the industry’s continued creativity I’ll leave you with this entirely unrelated video: 

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

Smooth Moves, Smoother Infield

Official Logo.jpgThe Triple-A All-Star Game takes place TONIGHT at Lehigh Valley’s Coca-Cola Park, and the eyes of the baseball world will be fixated on this star-studded exhibition between the Pacific Coast and International Leagues.

The rosters are set and the participants have arrived, so just one thing remains to be determined: Which league has the better dancing grounds crew?

That oft-posited query will finally be answered tonight, as Fresno’s “Drag Kings” and Lehigh Valley’s “Dirt Dudes” are both raking the diamond in separate half-inning breaks.

The Drag Kings are flying in from Fresno for the occasion, and they are ready to assert their supremacy on hostile turf.

“This is a great honor four is and we’re truly appreciative of the opportunity,” said The Kid. “Not only do we get to represent Fresno and the PCL, but we get to show off what makes us the best and most original dancing grounds crew in baseball.”

“It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” added Silkee. “So, we consider ourselves sincerely flattered.”

The Dirt Dudes could not be reached for comment, presumably because they were hard at work on their impeccably choreographed turf-tending routines.

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

In the Twilight Of Our Lives

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for fresno g.jpgTwilight fever is sweeping Minor League ballparks across the land, as teams from Binghamton to Toledo to St. Lucie to Fresno and beyond salute the 21st-century’s pre-eminent supernatural romance franchise.

The above sentence is not only an example of the sort of hacky ledes I try to stay away from these days. It is also factually inaccurate, as what I really mean to say is this: Twilight fever is sweeping America, and Minor League teams are capitalizing on this melodramatic pandemic by staging theme nights in its honor.

Because Minor League promotions do not create pop culture trends. Rather, they react to them, holding a Fun House mirror up to the zeitgeist. And Twilight is merely the latest phenomenon to get the Minor League treatment, one in an endless line of endlessly exploitable ephemeral diversions. Before long, the industry’s movers and shakers will make like the Foo Fighters and be “done, done, and…on to the next one.”

Alright, that’s enough needless pontificating. I was just trying to justify my existence, because the Fresno Grizzlies have created a video recap of their Twilight promo night that renders me, the blogger, meaningless. Said video provides a thorough and entertaining trip through the evening’s many highlights, leaving me with nothing to explain or contextualize.

I have seen the future, and that is that I no longer have one. Behold a classic in the nascent field of video promo explanation:

And then there’s this, which is just Nuts:

Finally, I’d like to draw your attention to THIS ARTICLE that appeared on MiLB.com yesterday. Jose Canseco will be fighting a 60-year-old man prior to an Arkansas Travelers game.

Believe it.

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

Freedom of Choice

Thumbnail image for Lowell-Logo.gif2009 saw a glut of politically-themed bobbleheads, from Obama in Brooklyn to Robert Byrd in West Virginia to Hilary Clinton in Quad Cities to Joe Biden in Delaware.

Well, now the Lowell Spinners are getting in on the act. The team announced today (via Twitter) that TWO bobbling politicos will be featured on the 2010 promotional calendar: Massachusetts senior Senator John Kerry and junior Senator Scott Brown. Photos of these sure-to-be coveted items have not yet been released, but if you close your eyes and think real hard I’m sure you can conjure up a fairly accurate image in your mind.

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And, no, this is not just a belated April Fool’s joke.

Democrat vs. Republican often feels like a choice between Vampire vs. Werewolf, which conveniently leads me to my next item:

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Fans can now VOTE (via Facebook) on which of the above jerseys they’d like to see the Fresno Grizzlies wear on Twilight Night, which will be taking place on June 26th. The jerseys will be auctioned off for charity after the game, with proceeds benefiting the Central California Blood Center.

Right now Team Jacob is enjoying a 30-vote lead, but this thing is far from over. My guess is that Edward comes out on top, simply because anything involving a “count” naturally favors vampires.

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

Supernatural Supremacy and Sitcom Stars

Thumbnail image for fresno g.jpgSorry that it’s been a while since I dropped some bizness knowledge on ya. All I can do at this juncture is to rip a page out of the MTA playbook and “apologize for the unavoidable delay.”

NYC public transit references translate nationwide, right? I sure hope so; otherwise I’ve alienated my audience even faster than usual.

Well, I’ll get you all back in my good graces by once again going over some recently unveiled 2010 promotional schedules.

The Fresno Grizzlies are one of those teams that routinely seek out the national spotlight, staging innovative promotions that often catch on throughout the industry. The club was the first to book the increasingly ubiquitous Mr. Belding (as part of their “Mad Tight 90s Night), and their “As Seen on TV Night” (featuring a Snuggie giveaway) has inspired several teams follow suit.

As for 2010, one of the Grizzlies’ biggest highlights will occur on June 26: Twilight Night.

I’ll refer you now to the expert on this schedule, an individual by the name of “Press Release“:

The Grizzlies will celebrate a pop culture phenomenon by hosting “Twilight
Night”
on the evening of a lunar eclipse. At the core of the
Twilight craze is one of the most hotly debated topics in recent memory,
which can be summed up succinctly in one question: Team Edward or Team
Jacob? In advance of the highly anticipated third installment of the
movie series, fans will be able to decide the outcome of that debate by
voting on the team’s Facebook Fan Page between a customized vampire
(Team Edward) or werewolf (Team Jacob) jersey. The winning jersey will
be worn by the Grizzlies during Twilight Night, with proceeds of a
jersey auction aptly benefiting the Central California Blood Center.

grizvampwolf.JPG 
I don’t know enough about Twilight to make an informed choice, but what this debate seems to boil down to on a subconscious level is “Disco or Rock n’ Roll”?

Another Grizzlies highlight is “Mad Tight 90s Night: The Remix” on May 20. This year’s special guest is none other than Alfonso Ribeiro, aka Carlton on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”:

carlton.jpg  

There is a strong likelihood that Tom Jones will be blasting through the Chukchansi Park speakers on this very special evening. Y’know, because of this:

And here’s hoping that the Grizzlies resident front office rappers record their own version of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song. 

Other nights to circle on the nationwide Minor League promo calendar that I assume hangs prominently in your home office: “You Sing the National Anthem” (July 5), “Man Night” (July 29), and “Mascot Wrestling” (August 14).

Let’s move north, past the California border into Oregon, because the Portland Beavers have released their promo schedule. Traditionally, the team stages one premier bobble giveaway each season (with 2006’s Rodney McCray bobblefence and ’07’s “Bob L. Head” being especially notable), so speculation was rampant over who would get the nod in 2010.

Speculate no more. This year, the prestigious recipients of Beaver bobble fame are these guys:

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Lewis and Clark, the most estimable battery of the 19th century, will be rendered in bobble form and distributed to the Portland masses on May 22. The following month, the Beavers will pay tribute to a group of equally accomplished explorers: “Goonies Never Say Die Night” is June 11, and will feature a post-game screening of the 1980s kids classic.

I’ll leave you with this, which will surely stand out as one of 2010’s premier giveaway items. On May 31, the Bowling Green Hot Rods will be distributing skateboard decks to the first 1000 fans in attendance (age 17 and under).

If you actually see a photo underneath this sentence, then it will represent my triumph over one of the greatest blogging adversities I have ever faced. If not, then I have failed. But rest assured, I will not give up. Not now, or ever.

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

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