Results tagged ‘ Lake County Captains ’

Promo Year in Review, Part Two: Theme Nights

train.jpg

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
—————————————————————————————————————————————-
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

Thumbnail image for jerseysure.JPG

Fresno Grizzlies — Twilight Night

grizvampwolf.JPG

Lake County Captains — Please Stay LeBron Night

Thumbnail image for Lake County_Lebron_Powder2.jpg

Lake Elsinore Storm — Obscure Sports Night

obscure.JPG

Reading Phillies — Salute to the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor

pep.JPG

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

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

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

Promo Year In Review Part One: The Giveaways

iwnt.jpg

Throughout the season, I wrote over 100 blog posts, 22 “Promotion Preview” columns, and sundry articles commemorating notable promotions taking place across Minor League Baseball.

Now it’s time to make sense of all that madness, and I need your help.

Starting today (Tuesday), and continuing on throughout the remainder of the week, I’ll be providing my top six promotions of the year in each of four categories: Giveaways, Theme Nights, Celebrity Appearances, and Miscellaneous Events.

The point of sharing these lists is not just to reminisce on the season that was, but for YOU to let me know what I’m missing. Yes, YOU. Whether you’re a fan, team employee, or covert operative existing in a shady nether region between the two entities, I want to hear from YOU.

Two promotions will be added to each list based on your input, setting the stage for next week’s series of “Promotion of the Year” polls on MiLB.com. Apathy is tantamount to treason, so rack your brain and get in touch today.  

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

Today we’ll take a brief look at some of the season’s top giveaways, with links to how the items were originally covered in this blog and MiLB.com. My six nominees, in alphabetical order:

Brooklyn Cyclones — Ike Davis Bobble Legs

IKE.JPG


Charleston RiverDogs Chia Head of groundskeeper Mike Williams

chia.jpg

Iowa Cubs — Player To Be Named Later Bobblehead

later.JPG



Lake County Captains — Skipper Leg Lamp

leglamp.gif


Orem Owlz — Torii Hunter Bobble Arm

torii.JPG

Portland Beavers — Viewmaster (with 10 slides featuring Beavers baseball and local military units)

view.jpg

So what am I missing? Let me know YOUR favorite Minor League Giveaway item of the year. I’ll be soliciting emails, tweets, comments, and telegrams throughout the remainder of the week. Silence is deadly, so speak up. 

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

Chooglin’ On Through the Postseason

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for playoff_landing_hdr.jpgIt’s playoff time out here in the MiLB wilderness, and the necessity of cranking out here-today, gone-tomorrow playoff previews and features has led to an unfortunate lull in my blogging output.

But don’t despair. I would never abandon this blog, for it is has become my professional calling card. Without it, I would be alone and forsaken in the dot com universe, with no URL on which to hang my digitally-encoded headpiece.

Thank you to those who have decided to join me here. Since content leads to contentment, I’ll dispense with the chatter and get down to brass tacks.

I barely have anything left from the regular season at this point, but I do have this:

Way back in mid-August, the Lake County Captains staged their first-ever Harry Potter Night. Player headshots were altered accordingly, and Grover the on-field host dressed up as the titular wizard:

Potter_headshot.JPG
Potter_Grover.JPG

Writes Captains director of promotions Jonathan Levey:

Classic Park sections were split up in to actual “Hogwarts” houses and the loudest and most enthusiastic house
(Hufflepuff 101-105) won prizes at the end of the eighth inning.

Contests were held for “Best Dressed Harry Potter Character” and there was a “Harry Potter Trivia Contest” as an On-Field promotion.

Harry Potter movie clips and music played throughout the game and individual Harry Potter headshots were
made for Captains players.

The winner of the aforementioned Trivia Contest received the “Golden Snitch”:

Potter_Snitch.JPG

Being ignorant of Potter minutiae, I first assumed that the Golden Snitch was something awarded to particularly helpful police informants. But, as is so often the case, one second of internet research was all it took to upend my faulty assumptions. A “snitch” is a walnut-sized ball used in the game of Quidditch.

I don’t really no how to make a smooth transition from the topic of “walnut-sized balls”, so I won’t. I’ll simply post a particularly entertaining Charlotte Stone Crabs commercial:

The club made a whole series of these videos throughout the season, check them all out HERE.

The Stone Crabs were defeated by the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League finals. But there are still many teams who are currently in the midst of the postseason, with the front offices of these teams doing the best they can to lure fans to the ballpark. And sometimes, one’s best involves gesturing wildly at passing motorists while dressed as a banana.

Kudos to these intrepid Great Lakes Loons employees:

Loons playoffs.jpg

You drive me crazy, Minor League Baseball season. But I’ll miss you when you’re gone.

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

The Imperial Stormtroopers of Love Take Omaha

omaha-royals-logo.gifThe West Michigan Whitecaps staged the first “Star Wars Night” in 2007, and since then the promotion has spread throughout the Minor League galaxy. And for good reason — it brings large groups of hardcore sci-fi enthusiasts to the ballpark (many who would not attend a game otherwise) while still remaining plenty accessible to the average fan.

The Omaha Royals staged their own version of “Star Wars Night” on Friday, significantly upping Midwest midichlorian levels. Thanks to my unceasing reportorial drive (read: ability to receive emails) I am now able to share some pictures and video.

Here, the evening’s roster of special guests make their way onto the field:

Thumbnail image for ORoyals_StarWars.0966.jpgPay special attention to the couple immediately behind Darth Vader, as they are going to factor into this narrative in a most significant fashion.

But first, Darth was tasked with throwing out the first pitch. The O-Royals player tasked with catching it was pitcher Louis Coleman, who must have felt light years away from Kansas City at that particular moment.

Another first pitch was tossed by Phil, who was there on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His wish was to attend National Star Wars Convention in Orlando, and the O-Royals’ promo doubled as a special send-off.

Omaha_FirstPitchWish.JPG

Soon after the first pitch, a most unexpected announcement appeared on the videoboard.

ORoyals_StarWars.0968.jpg

And sure enough, Jason the stormtrooper was down on one knee:

ORoyals_StarWars.0967.jpg

The happy couple, with Darth looming in the background:Omaha_Star Wars_couple.JPG

The rest of the evening was perhaps not quite so dramatic, but there was nonetheless a lot going on.

Makin’ Wookiee on the Scoreboard:

ORoyals_StarWars.0969.jpg

A “Where’s Yoda” contest was staged, featuring the renowned Jedi master in a variety of ballpark locations:

ORoyals_StarWars.0971.jpg

Many of the fans embraced the theme wholeheartedly:ORoyals_StarWars.0974.jpg

ORoyals_StarWars.0972.jpg

Leia and Han go back-to-back:

ORoyals_StarWars.0973.jpg

There were no back-to-back home runs in the ballgame, but Portland’s Sean “Chewbacca” Kazmar (see above) did honor Han with a Solo shot in the third.

Thanks to O-Royals director of creative services Eldon Lindsay for sending the pictures along. If YOU have photos of a Minor League promotion then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Or, just make like the Lake County Captains and assert your promotional supremacy over the stadium PA:

http://www.twitvid.com/player/QNGE6

If you disagree with this assertion, then you know where to find me.

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

On Fire, Smashed Up, and Totally Full of It

An abundance of blog-worthy items have arrived in my inbox over the past several days, causing my notebook to look like the pen and paper equivalent of a 42-car pile-up.

This, then, is an attempt to clear away the debris so that we may all arrive safely at our respective destinations.

For (fire)starters, I must mention what is scheduled to take place in Savannah on August 14. This:

fire.JPG

Photo By: Greg Harriss

The above individual is Ted Batchelor, who holds the world record for “Longest Full-Body Burn Without Supplied Oxygen.” As a prelude to Saturday’s fireworks show, he’ll be set aflame by “one lucky fan” and then circle the bases. Rest assured that I’ll have more on this in the coming days.

Another illustrious figure set to grace a South Atlantic League ballpark with his presence is stand-up comedian Gallagher, performing a post-game show at Charleston’s Joseph P. Riley Ballpark on August 18.

gallageher.jpg

Sez the team:

Fans of the outrageous performer are
encouraged to get seats up close to the action as Gallagher and his “Gallagear”
always gets the audience involved in the act. Be a front row fan, but
“BYOP”, Bring Your Own Poncho, because the Master of Melon is sure to have a
messy trick or two up his striped sleeve.

The RiverDogs have actually already staged a “Watermelon Night’ promotion this season, an evening that included this iconic scoreboard image of clubhouse manager “Rally Vinnie”:

Charleston_RallyVinnieWatermelon.JPG 

The Lake County Captains recently staged a Watermelon Night of their own, resulting in adorable images such as the following:

Lake County_Watermelon.JPG

Fans who participated in between-inning contests received specially-baked watermelon cupcakes, although the opportunity to squash a watermelon is its own reward:

The Captains staged a more ambitious (and gut-wrenching) food-related promo just last night: The Competitive Eating Olympics. Following a format first used by the Williamsport Crosscutters in their annual “Belly Buster” competitions, contestants had to consume one item per inning.

The line-up:

lineup.jpg

Winner Mark Ogrize celebrates his accomplishment:

lakecountychamp.jpg

A crowd gathers to watch the riveting final round, pitting Ogrize against runner-up George Lianopolous:

Final Round.jpg

If Lianopolous is a single man, then I suggest he make this the main picture on his online dating profile. In this case, “Adidas” stands for “All Day I Dream About Spam”:spam.jpg
Finally, a blow-by-blow account:

This promotion was featured on Deadspin this morning, so congrats to the Captains for the national publicity. But for Minor League teams, Deadspin is like a rich bachelor uncle who sporadically drops in before turning his attention back to more titillating pursuits. I, however, am the doting mother: there for you through thick and thin, easy to take for granted, and prone to insufferable bouts of extended and unnecessary martyrdom.

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

Head Over Heels And Other Anomalies

caught.jpgAt this moment in space and time I am more or less “caught up” in my blogging duties. This is a good thing, but I can’t shake the nagging suspicion that I’m missing something.

Because there’s always something, isn’t there?

Before getting weighed down by the contemplation of such abstract notions, I wanted to share some odds, ends, bits, pieces, and nuggets that I have accumulated in recent days. Oh, there’s some ephemera in here too. Can’t forget the ephemera.

Let’s start off with something visually striking.

IKE.JPG
 
The above item, designed by the bobble visionaries at Coyote Promotions, is being given away by the Brooklyn Cyclones on August 2. As you may have noticed, it is upside down. Therefore, it is Ike’s legs that bobble while his head remains stationary.

This object is also unique in that it commemorates a player’s Major League feat (Ike’s dazzling trifecta of foul territory catches) while said player is in a Minor League uniform (the Cyclones, whom Ike played for in 2008). The Cyclones are literally re-writing history, then, putting the events of 2010 within a 2008 context. This bit of space-time continuum trickery results in cognitive disconnect, a common ailment in the world of Minor League Baseball promotions.

For instance, the Binghamton Mets are staging a “Big Lebowski” promo next week. But playing the role of Jesus Quintana is none other than Bingo the Bee.

Deal with it:
 

Meanwhile, in Lake County, the Captains held their annual star-studded “Cleveland Sports History Night.” As this video shows, the team was actually able to find a sponsor for a re-enactment of one of the worst moments in the city’s long and sad sports history.
 

I was going to expound further about the above video, but my Google image search for “Art Modell” also turned up naked “art models” and I fear that I will soon be fired as a result of this inadvertent breach of internet usage policy.

Let’s quickly proceed to Trenton then, as last night the Thunder staged “Irish Heritage Night” AND a “Mustache Bash.”

On the Irish side of the equation:
 
trentonirsih.jpg 

The mustache side:

mustache.jpg

And the combination thereof:

combo.jpg

Incidentally, may I please suggest that teams staging a Mustache promotion utilize THIS SONG?

And, please, don’t forget that an epic milestone will be occurring TONIGHT on the West Coast: the 40,000th game in California League history. As for which game will receive the honor, that’s yet to be determined. Five games will be running concurrently this evening, and it all depends on the finishing times.

But it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. There’s no better proof of that saying than active Minormike.jpg League home run leader Mike Hessman, who received a call-up yesterday to the New York Mets. The 32-year-old had hit 18 home runs this season to run up his Minor League total to 329; he certainly has nothing left to prove in the International League.

And I, meanwhile, have nothing left to write.

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

Why Won't It Stop?

ketchup-500.jpgI’ve been playing catch-up this week, hearkening me back to my days as a featured performer at the Condiment Theater.

This is because baseball, quite inconsiderately, doesn’t take a day off. So while I was on the road cranking out articles, blog posts, Promo Preview columns, and frivolous contest introductions, the emails kept coming in alerting me to items that may be worthy of coverage.

Allow me to now present to you, the reader, some of these items. I’ll start with the most narcissistic, a 42-second video commemorating my stint as “The Apprentice…Of the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.

With that out of the way, let’s proceed to last night’s promotion in Akron. The Aeros held “Ship Out LeBron Night”, in which fans were asked to donate unwanted LeBron James apparel in exchange for free tickets.

As you can see, quite a few fans took the team up on its offer. As soon as Orbit is done playing around, these items will be donated to an international relief organization.

Akron_orbitthrowjerz.jpg 

Akron_Orbitlaysonjerz.JPG

A mascot doing snow angels atop the discarded apparel of a vilified NBA superstar is definitely something you don’t see every day.

Another thing you don’t see every day is 3,692 people popping bubble wrap at the same time. It makes a sound quite similar to dessicated locust husks bouncing off the roof of a station wagon.

As part of the promotion, the Spinners rolled out the “Bubblewrap Dance Floor.” To celebrate 50 years of bubblewrap, 50-year-olds were invited onto the field to dance to 50 cent.

An even more Rainman-esque aspect of the promotion was that the 50th fan in attendance would get a year’s supply of popcorn if the 50th out of the game occurred via pop out. It did, and one lucky fan took home a vast collection of kernels (Spinners media relations director Jon Boswell writes that, keeping in the spirit of the promotion, “He’ll have to do the popping himself!”)

The Spinners’ Bubble Wrap extravaganza was in last week’s “Promotion Preview” column. This week’s includes the following two top-quality items.

Torii Hunter Bobble-Arm in Orem

torii.JPG 

Skipper Leg Lamp in Lake County

leglamp.gif

I wish that the above item was being given away as part of a “Salute to Hallucinogenic Fever Dreams” promo, but there’s actually a story behind it. See, the Captains are staging “Christmas In July”, and “A Christmas Story” was filmed in nearby Cleveland. Hence, a giveaway featuring a Minor League twist on one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.

And speaking of the Captains, you may recall that one of the team’s biggest fans comes to nearly every game dressed like Waldo. Recently, this horizontally-striped standout took his act to Cleveland:

waldoceleveland.JPG

Certainly a Waldo this ambitious is worthy of your Facebook fandom. Perhaps I can even score an exclusive interview one of these days.

Also worthy of your Facebook fandom is the fourth annual Minors Moniker Madness, which seeks to determine the best name in the Minors (MMM can also be followed on Twitter).

This year’s contest is shaping up to be the best yet, as teams have mounted homegrown promotional campaigns in support of their players. Here’s one of the best efforts I’ve seen thus far:

Finally, you may have noticed that the Charleston RiverDogs and Hickory Crawdads have recently been the recipients o
f some big-time exposure:

Perhaps I’ll receive some big-time exposure one of these days. Until then, I’ll be staring at a computer screen in search of a clever closing sentence that never comes.

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

LeBron LeMania in LeLake LeCounty

Lake County_LeBron_Jersey Script.jpgYesterday the Oklahoma RedHawks generated a fair amount of publicity for themselves by offering an incentive-laden contract to superstar NBA free agent LeBron James. 

While I commend the RedHawks for their “Carpe Diem” promotional spirit, there’s a big difference between issuing a comedic press release and, you know, actually staging a comprehensive game-long LeBron James promotion. 
In order to find a team engaged in such an endeavor, one would have had to travel to the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake, OH. The Lake County Captains staged “Please Stay LeBron Night” on Thursday, within the cozy confines of “LeClassic” Park. 
On this special evening of celebrity-wooing civic boosterism, the team changed their name to the “LeLake LeCounty LeCaptains.” This crucial modification was reflected in the jerseys worn by the players (see above), and also on the videoboard: 
Lake County_LeBron_headshot.jpg
Players, mascots, and on-field host Grover all were introduced in a manner befitting King James himself. Break out the talcum powder!
Lake County_Lebron_Powder1.jpg 
Lake County_Lebron_Powder2.jpg
Lake County_Lebron_Powder3.jpg
Let’s go to the video!

Let’s go to another video! 
In honor of LeBron’s uniform number, fans got into the game for just $6 (a much better deal than $23). They were encouraged to bring “Please Stay LeBron” posters from that day’s edition of the local News-Herald, and to wave them vociferously throughout the evening.

Also, for reasons that I do not and will never know, Waldo was in attendance. Waldo wants LeBron to stay in Cleveland: 
Lake County_Lebron_Please Stay Signs.jpg
And, of course, the evening’s between-inning promotions were centered around the theme. Here, LeSkipper judges a slam dunk contest between LeSkippy and young LeDaniel:
So kudos to the LeCaptains for staging a creative evening of timely entertainment, and, more importantly, for providing me with some excellent material on the cusp of a holiday weekend.
Who’s next?
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz
    

A Zoso Night At the Ballpark

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Whitecaps Primary.JPGThis past Thursday was “Led Zeppelin Night” in West Michigan, as the rock n’ roll loving Whitecaps paid tribute to one of the genre’s all-time heaviest hitters.

I just studied Led Zeppelin’s entire discography and yet the only other potential headline I could come up with for this post was “Whole Lotta Glove”. So with wordplay opportunities already exhausted there’s nothing left to do but get to the point.

And the point is that on this special evening the team took the field in Zeppelin-themed jerseys.

zepjerz.jpg

Friends:

West Michigan -- Zeppelin2.JPG 

Tea For One:

West Michigan -- Zeppelin3.JPG

Led Zeppelin IV:

West Michigan -- Zeppelin4.JPG

Hats Off…

West Michigan -- Zeppelin Anthem.JPG

The Song Remains the Same:

West Michigan -- Zeppelin Anthem2.JPG

The game featured “Good Times Bad Times”, but ultimately the Whitecaps avoided a “Heartbreaker” and emerged triumphant in an 11-inning nailbiter. The highlights:

For those scoring at home, this marks the second time in as many seasons that the Whitecaps have enjoyed a walk-off victory on a rock and roll theme jersey night. In 2009, Pink Floyd was the honored group:

white caps pink floyd.JPG 

I am used to my Minor League jersey suggestions being “uniformly” ignored, but I’d still like to mention that Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Creedence Clearwater Revival would all be excellent candidates for a similar such promotion. And don’t even get me started on Weird Al.

Finally, the Lake County Captains are one of two Cleveland-area teams staging a “Please Stay Lebron” Night on July 1. I’ll certainly be providing more info on this in the near future, but among other things the team will be changing its name to “LeLake LeCounty LeCaptains.”

lecaptains.JPG 

Hopefully the evening will include plenty of James Gang played over the PA.

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

In Which Racing Babies Foretell the Future of Sport

boomer with soccer balls 2.jpgThe World Cup has captured the sporting attention of the entire globe, even gaining some traction in the famously soccer-indifferent United States.

And in these United States, the focus is on the countries competing in “Group C”: Algeria, England, Slovenia, and, of course, the U.S.
The Trenton Thunder, cutting-edge prognosticators that they are, held an on-field Baby Race in order to predict the Group C results. The four infant competitors, each representing one of the countries, had to crawl 10 feet toward a wildly gesticulating parent. 
And is it any surprise that Baby USA emerged victorious? USA is the greatest! Join me in jingoistic fervor by watching this riveting video: 

I mean, seriously, it wasn’t even close. But respect to all the other competitors, who continued to race even as Baby USA celebrated his victory by attempting to eat a microphone. 
The final results:
1. USA (Alexander Dowling, 12 months)
2. Slovenia (Logan Mushinski, nine months)
3. Algeria (Kyle O’Donnell, nine months)
4. England (Eva Munoz, nine months)
The Thunder have posted a bevy of pictures on their website. I enjoy this one, as it shows the wide range of objects that can be used to lure racing babies toward an imaginary finish line.
world cup baby race 9.jpg
Baby USA was awarded with a team-autographed soccer ball, but was totally unimpressed: 
world cup baby race 121.jpg
Before wrapping this up, I’d like to mention that “Wingstock” took place at West Michigan’s Fifth Third Ballpark this weekend. The music festival featured the truly unbeatable 1-2 combo of Jackyl and Snoop Dogg. Fans of shirtless chainsaw-wielding should click HERE for a local news report, and those desiring to see Snoop in action can do so via a variety of YouTube videos (search “Wingstock Snoop Dogg”). I’d love to post them here, but they contain objectionable language and as such would contrast with this post’s otherwise family-friendly content.

alice.jpg

And, hey, speaking of concerts at Minor League ballparks — Alice Cooper will be appearing at Classic Park in Lake County on September 3! It would be quite depressing to hear him play “School’s Out” so late in the summer; hopefully he’ll replace that in the set list with some deep cuts off of “DaDa“.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 447 other followers