Results tagged ‘ mascots ’
Today I have two items of note for you, and they really couldn’t be any different in tone. On the serious end of the spectrum, the Mobile BayBears have announced that a seat at Hank Aaron stadium will remain permanently empty in honor of all American soldiers who never returned home.
Section 107, row 1, seat 1:
More, from the team:
The BayBears will hold a ceremony to unveil the seat at the home opener, Wednesday, April 10 during the pre-game festivities. Active military and veterans will be in attendance to help dedicate the seat to the over 92,000 missing American soldiers. The BayBears will be installing the seat next week.
The BayBears’ “Black Seat” initiative has garnered a lot of attention over the past 24 hours, thanks to a blog post on Yahoo’s Big League Stew blog that was then more or less re-written by a number of other outlets. There’s been an “every team ever should do this immediately if not sooner” tone to these posts, and it is almost certain that other teams will follow in the wake of the BayBears (and, moreso, the Lowell Spinners as they were the first team to do this). But such a gesture will seem profoundly empty unless it is accompanied by a season-long commitment to and engagement with the region’s military and veteran population. The BayBears, for instance, offer complimentary tickets for active duty personnel and will be staging promotions dedicated to each branch of the military throughout the season.
First things first.
And now, like a kid flipping through Mad Magazine until he sees a Dave Berg byline, we have reached the Lighter Side. I’m just going to rely on the press release for this one, courtesy of the Lake Elsinore Storm.
With the papal election process in full swing and a new Pope on the horizon, the Lake Elsinore Storm Professional Baseball Team feel they have the right candidate for the position.
He may not be global just yet, but locally a lovable dog is revered by all. That’s right, man’s best friend, who may become God’s best friend, is throwing his bone, or hat, into the papal ring. Storm mascot, Thunder, with inspiration from the likes of Saint Peter, the Apostle, and the 264 Popes that followed, is willing to leave the luxuries of The Diamond behind for the right to serve others as the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.
There have been many recommendations on who should be the successor of Pope Benedict XVI….Thunder, though, has a leg, or two, up on the competition.
He would be the first green Pope, already has his own Thunder/Pope mobile and children of all ages love him. As well, Thunder has been sermonizing and leading others as a beacon of Storm spirit for nearly a decade on the team’s annual Night of Fellowship (scheduled for July 12 this season).
Thunder’s youthful exuberance and connection with the younger generation should provide a groundswell of support through social media. His friends at @Storm_baseball have started a #Paws4Pope Twitter campaign that could go viral.
The echoing sounds of “Thunder,Thunder” is a well known cheer throughout the Inland Empire, and Popefully the people of Vatican City will be chanting in Italian “Tuono, Tuono” for years to come.
Now that I think about it, this blog post typifies Minor League Baseball: balancing the serious and the absurd on a season-to-season, month-to-month, homestand-to-homestand, game-to-game, inning-to-inning basis.
Have you ever tried to monitor the actions of 160 entities on a daily basis? That’s basically what my job is here at MiLB.com, and please believe me when I say that it can be overwhelming! Keeping track of a such a vast industry exacerbates my already quite pronounced OCD-tendencies, and leads to notebook pages such as the following:
All of this is to say — it’s time to turn the page! But before doing so, please enjoy this bouillabaisse blog post consisting entirely of news items seen on the above notebook page. Y’know, topics that I’ve kept meaning to get around to but never did (or at least never did outside of the Twitter realm).
So here you go — no segues, just news news news!
Would you believe that the Hudson Valley Renegades have not one but TWO former MLB pitchers on their front office staff? Joe Ausiano (1994-95 Yankees) has long been with the team, and he has now been joined by Rob Bell (who played for four teams over seven big league seasons). Bell, now 36, will serve as a sales account executive.
Hudson Valley: home of Minor League Baseball’s best front office softball team?
The Iowa Cubs have long prided themselves on conducting the most irreverent website polls in MiLB, but decided not to continue with the practice after their site underwent an extensive re-design (as nearly all team sites have done of late, courtesy of the tech wizards here at MLBAM).
But, rest assured, they went out on top of their poll game!
You may recall my recent post on Minor League Front Office Cliches, in which one of the cliches mentioned was “We wear a lot of hats.” This prompted @Interstate19Cap to reply, via Twitter: “I wear a lot of hats. Haha! I should work in MiLB.”
He also attached a picture of his formidable hat wall. Not quite at a St. Pete level, but close!
You may or may not be aware of my most recent “Ben’s Bookshelf” column, which had a Black History Month angle.
I recommend all six of the titles shown above (read the article, linked to above), but there’s far more where that came from. Check out this bookshelf pic, sent to me via Twitter by @BeesGal_SLC, and marvel at its thoroughness.
That reminds me — I really should read Curt Flood’s book!
On the promotion front — this, from the Altoona Curve, is worthy of attention. April 11 will be BOpening Night, a tribute to batboy Bo Forney who passed away earlier this month at the age of 21.
From the team:
Bo has been an inspiration to many with the way he lived,” said Curve General Manager Rob Egan. “He had the rare ability to make anybody who came in contact with him feel better. Bo was such a positive person, loved life, and truly enjoyed people. We miss him deeply and look forward to celebrating his life on ‘BOpening Night’ and throughout the season.”
A silent auction will take place during BOpening Night with all proceeds from the auction benefitting the American Heart Association. The auction will consist of game-used items from the Pirates-Curve Exhibition game and will include, in addition to other items, 14-game used jerseys that have been signed by former Curve players /current Pirates players.
To commemorate the life of Forney, a patch with Bo’s cartoon likeness will be affixed to all bat boys uniforms throughout the 2013 season. The Forney family will also be in attendance for BOpening Night and will throw out ceremonial first pitches prior to the game. A moment of silence will be held in Bo’s honor prior to the game as well.
This reminds me of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who last season held a ballpark service for vendor Brock Calmes. Events like these help to illustrate the deep bonds that form within Minor League Baseball ballparks, and just how meaningful the presence of Minor League Baseball within a community can be.
Last week, the Tacoma Rainiers let it be known that anyone willing to purchase 350 Opening Weekend ticket deals would receive this pyramid of Dustin Ackley bobbleheads. I don’t think that anyone took them up on it.
Next I’d like to give a shoutout to Spikes, intrepid mascot for your (or at least someone’s) Rochester Red Wings. He joins Rocky of the Wilmington Blue Rocks as the only mascots (that I am aware of) to take part in a Polar Plunge for charity.
During all 10 of their Friday night home games this season, the Charlotte Knights will be wearing 1990 throwback uniforms. Luxuriate in this image!
This initiative was inspired by the fact that 2013 will be the team’s last at Knights Stadium. 1990 was the first. Sez the team:
The jerseys, which were worn by the inaugural Knights Stadium Team in 1990, will now be worn by the current Knights team during the new “Flashback Fridays” series, which is set to commemorate 24 years of history at Knights Stadium.
To return to philanthropic endeavors, the Erie SeaWolves are now at the tail end of their “Drive to Five” initiative.
The most pertinent of the details:
Through February 28, the Erie SeaWolves will donate $25 to United Way for each new full-season ticket package purchased. If 100 new season ticket packages are purchased, the SeaWolves will double the contribution – raising $5,000 to help United Way achieve its goal to reduce poverty in our region.
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys detailed analysis of industry-wide attendance figures, then you’re going to love the Number Tamer. Nobody does it better! (Or, if someone does, I’m certainly not aware of it).
As you may be aware, one of this year’s most ill-fated sporting ventures occurred in Williamsport, PA. The Federal Hockey League’s Outlaw franchise set up shop at outdoor Bowman Field (longtime home of the Crosscutters), an idea that may sound cool in theory but turned out to be a unmitigated financial disaster. The team pulled the plug on the season mid-way through, leaving everyone in the lurch, and once this happened the Crosscutters offered a quick response via this local newspaper ad:
This seems like a disaster waiting to happen, but nonetheless I encourage you like Lancaster JetHawks mascot KaBoom on Facebook. Here’s why:
Speaking of inadvisable mascot feats, here’s a picture of Lake County’s Skipper, immediately after “Tackling the Tower.”
“Tackling the Tower” isn’t some sort of euphemism, but an annual stair-climbing event with (of course) philanthropic intent. Good work, Skipper!
And, my goodness, this notebook page still has a lot of stuff on it. This post is gonna be a two-parter.
Everything I do, I do it for you.
The latest edition of Ben’s Bookshelf appeared on MiLB.com this past Thursday. The featured book this time through is Jesse Goldberg-Strassler’s “The Baseball Thesaurus.” It looks a little something like this:
The Baseball Thesaurus is just what its name implies. To quote my own (stellar) writing, the book is “an alphabetized romp through the baseball lexicon peppered with quirky anecdotes, vintage photos and memorable quotes.”
The Baseball Thesaurus greatly enhances my ability to turn pedestrian baseball sentences into flowery works of national pastime poetry, and for this I am grateful. Using the thesaurus, one can transform a bland remark such as “The pitcher threw a curveball and the batter hit it over the fence” into “The hurlester buggywhipped a snapdragon and the swatsmith manhandled it beyond the rampart.” (Reader comprehension be damned!)
Words, let’s not mince them: I am a nerd who enjoys writing in this antiquated (and, yes, borderline pretentious) sort of way. So last Thursday afternoon I took to Twitter and asked my ragtag band of followers to submit run-of-the-mill baseball sentences so that I could then gussy them up with the Thesaurus. Some highlights:
1. “The Northfield nine posted a picket fence in the middle innings and held on for a 3-2 win.” (submitted by @NatsProspects)
@NatsProspects is kind of messing with me here, by submitting a sentence that is already gussied up! The alliterative “Northfield Nine” can’t really be improved upon, nor can the use of “picket fence” to describe three one-run innings in a row. But, beyond that, I did my best to tweak it up (although the only instance in which I was able to employ The Baseball Thesaurus was with the word “inning”). My version:
“The Northfield nine posted a picket fence in the centermost stanzas, and persevered for a 3-2 triumph.”
2. “The runner tags from second and is thrown out by the right fielder.” (submitted by @LivingInAJar)
In this case, The Baseball Thesaurus equipped me with the tools I needed to go on an alliterative rampage:
“The tenant tags from the second station, but is vanquished at the coffin corner by the rightfield retriever.”
3. “‘fly ball…..caught’ or anything else Harry Doyle broadcast during the amazing 1989/1990 Indians seasons” (submitted by @Spike_RRE)
For those who may have forgotten, Harry Doyle is the name of the Cleveland Indians announcer played by Bob Uecker in the Major League films. You know, this guy:
“Fly ball…caught” can be transformed into “Cloud-scraper…captured”, but why stop there? Here’s another Harry Doyle quote, transformed via the Thesaurus.
“That ball is off his glove and outta here!” becomes “That lemon is off his lobster trap and over the barricade!”
4. “Sharp two-out single up the middle. This will score two.” (submitted by @CJBoerger)
Okay, this’ll be the last one. My transformative attempt:
“Screaming Meemie to the center of the outer garden. This will send two plateward.”
And then there is the great art of photography, each example of which is worth 1000 words. This picture, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon by the fast-acting folks @IndianapolisEMS, is my favorite example in quite some time.
Unforeseen technological adversity has made it so that I can’t post this picture. So, click HERE to see a droopy-eyed bear practicing first aid on a severed torso.
This past September, I wrote an article on the Lake Elsinore Storm’s sizable fleet of surreal costumed characters and what they add to the ballpark experience. Here are the first two paragraphs of that article, in the hope that it may jog your memory regarding what it is I’m talking about:
A gorilla being pummeled with foam noodles before escaping over a 12-foot fence. … A 6-foot chicken racing across a vast expanse of grass alongside an equally oversized squirrel. … A pink rabbit emerging from a secret door, gyrating furiously before disappearing from whence he came. … A cup of ice cream dancing joyously alongside a banana, whose presence greatly excites the aforementioned gorilla.
The above may sound like the disconnected fragments of a particularly surreal fever dream — and they very well could be. But “particularly surreal fever dream” also might be the best way to describe the between-innings entertainment at a Lake Elsinore Storm game, which includes all of the eccentric characters mentioned above and many, many more.
If YOU want in on that action, NOW is the time to act. Last week, the Storm announced that they’re “looking for local talent to join our crazy cast of on-field characters this season.”
Per the team:
Do you have what it takes to join the likes of the Fastest Squirrel in the World and Grounds Crew Gorilla? Create a 30-second video of you as a character of your choice. Upload it to YouTube and send the link to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re looking to be wowed, so aim for our faces.
That “aim for our faces” remark is a reference to the team’s Rally Cop character, who was known for throwing his “softee balls to your face.” (Those are the team’s words, not mine). The team’s plea for performers is motivated at least in part by the sad fact that the Rally Cop is no longer. Storm staffer Robbie Gillett, the Rally Cop’s alter-ego, is no longer with the team.
So long, Rally Cop — we hardly knew ye!
The Storm aren’t the only team searching for new blood these days. The Lexington Legends currently have an opening in their front office, and one of the candidates has found a creative way to plead his case.
This bit of pizza-based advocacy made a strong impression with the Legends staff, with broadcaster Keith Elkins marveling that it’s “the first edible application that we’ve received.” Ty Cobb, the Legends’ director of creative services, wrote that Dan “will certainly receive full consideration” when it comes to which candidates the team decides to interview. My guess is that Dan has made himself the front-runner in the team’s employment sweepstakes, but who knows? Maybe another candidate will soon utilize a dessert-based medium as a means of self-promotion — that would really be the icing on the cake!
Going out on a high note since 2007,
As this will be the last post of November, I may as well lead it off with the topic that always dominates this soon-to-be-expired stretch of the calendar: new logos. It was helpfully pointed out to me earlier this week that I had neglected this recent entry to the alternate logo canon. And what an entry it is:
This one’s courtesy of the Stockton Ports, who will sport this character on their cap during each and every Friday home game next season. The team explains thusly:
The Ports new logos honor Stockton’s heritage as the largest in-land port in California and the Asparagus Capital of the World. A new character, 5 O’clock Dock, is the centerpiece of the identity, brandishing his baseball tattoos and asparagus club.
My favorite line in the press release, however, is the one that notes that the Ports have become “the first professional sports team to use Asparagus green.” Congrats on that accomplishment, guys, but considering the team name and asparagus theme I am disappointed by the failure to incorporate an aromatic “P.”
In other California League headwear news, the Lake Elsinore Storm announced last month that they are now selling 20th anniversary throwback hats that commemorate the team’s original look.
The Storm’s current “eye” logo has long been one of the most popular marks in Minor League Baseball, and that logo can be traced back to designs such as the above. (The eyes used to be part of a larger “Storm” motif, see?) Perhaps that’s a lesson for other clubs — take a particularly striking element of your current logo, then isolate and amplify. Sometimes a minimalist approach can work wonders.
I’ve been posting less videos on this blog than I have in the past, partially because Twitter has become a good forum for that and partially because watching too many of them makes me feel as if my life is slipping away in slow motion right before my eyes.
But, that said, I wanted to single out this recent Fresno Grizzlies production because it is one of the best videos I have seen in quite some time. For one, it highlights a simple and memorable trick that should be part of every mascot playbook. For two, the production is great. (That is certainly not a given when it comes to team-released offseason videos.)
Was the fan who got his hat stolen planted there by the team? Almost certainly. Does it matter? Not at all.
And since I’m posting videos, how ’bout this? In Pensacola, the Blue Wahoos have transformed their ballpark into a so-called “Winter Wonderland.” That’s not easy to do in the Florida panhandle!
Skating rink, toboggan slide, jumbo board games, Santa Claus, and more:
Finally, I’ll close with the following: the basketball trick shot dudes of Dude Perfect visited Frisco’s Dr Pepper Ballpark because of course they did. All of human history has led us to this moment.
And that’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll see you in Nashville next week, should you be in Nashville next week.
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.
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.
Tuesday’s post began with the Erie SeaWolves and their quest to name a nine-foot tall inflatable fish. But exercises in the assignation of aquatic monikers are certainly not exclusive to remote corners of the Keystone State.
In Pensacola, the fledgling Blue Wahoos are currently staging a “Name the Mascot” contest. I’m not sure if this mascot is himself a fish, but at the very least his silhouette looks a tad platypus-ian.
The six finalists are as follows: The six finalists are: Blu, Capt. Catch, Salty, Sinker, Ono (Hawaiian for Wahoo), Kazoo.
I’d advise against the name Ono, because then the mascot will immediately be blamed if the team stops functioning well as a group. (Although, the team could give away “Plastic Ono” figurines).
Moving on to another news item with aquatic undertones — Did you know that season 3 of the HBO show Eastbound and Down was filmed in Myrtle Beach, with baseball scenes taking place at Pelicans stadium? It’s true, and the Pelicans are capitalizing by selling “Myrtle Beach Mermen” merchandise (or “Mermerch,” as I like to call it).
Officially licensed “Mermerch” is also available at myrtlebeachmermenjerseys.com, a site that gets extra alliteration points for referring to Mr. Powers as “mercurial.” Visitors to the site are greeted with the following image, which looks like a hallucinating sailor’s interpretation of a ’70s era Seattle Mariners logo:
The show wrapped up filming for the third season just last month, and Pelicans broadcaster Joel Godett spent some time on the set as an extra:
Godett thoroughly recapped the experience on his blog, which can be seen HERE.
As you can see, the crowd was really into it:
While MB Mermen gear is all well and good, it’s another piece of MB clothing that really has caught my attention.
The Montgomery Biscuits are now offering this spiffy little number in adult sizes.
People are giving Bill Simmons flak because he didn’t wear a tie when he interviewed Obama, but it is my promise to you that if I ever snag a POTUS exclusive I will show up at the White House wearing the above item (also: a fanny pack, flip flops, Akron Aeros gym shorts, and a Reading Phillies’ Richie Ashburn-style fedora. I’ve got this all planned out).
And since I’m on the “MB” theme (I didn’t plan on this theme, it’s just that my mind cannot be stopped and is in fact threatening to eat me alive as if I was some sort of anthropomorphic biscuit), my latest Minoring in Business article appeared today on MiLB.com.
It’s on the Florida State League and Spring Training, and can be seen HERE.
Next week I plan to get a bit more substantive on the blog — as it’s 2012 planning time! As always, I look forward to your suggestions as to where I should go and why.
But, for now, I’ll close this blogging week by providing an happy update on a tragic situation from a few weeks back.
Reports the team:
Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder is happy to have his quad back but it looks like it will need a little bit of help before he can come roaring out for game day festivities.
Last Wednesday, the team filed a police report with the local sheriff’s department that the mascot’s quad had been stolen.
After Director of Mascot Operations Patrick Gardenier retrieved the quad from the Riverside Sheriff’s station on Sunday it was found to be a bit more damaged than expected.
“They painted it all black and walked away with the ignition, the tail light, and the wheels are not aligned properly,” said Gardenier. “I hope we can get it fixed in time for the Major League exhibition game.”
In honor of this positive development, I would suggest that the Storm offer a special four-game “Quad Ticket Pack.” A portion of each sales will go to Thunder’s quad refurbishment.
And with that, another Minor League promo idea disappears into the Biz Blog vortex. Never to be spoken of again.
The unveiling of 2012 promotions has not yet reached a deluge, but it has far surpassed a trickle. And within this intermediate zone in which we currently reside, one of the most exciting (and sure-to-be-copied) new promotions is this:
But the above photo, while helpful, doesn’t really do the promotion justice. Per the team:
The River Bandits are proud to announce, for the first time ever in professional sports in the U.S., a photo jersey auction to benefit local cancer organizations. Small squares in the Bandits players’ numbers are available for purchase, $25 each, to feature a photograph of yourself or a loved one who has been affected by cancer. The jerseys, which will be worn during the game on Friday, August 10th, will be auctioned off during the game.
I’m sure I’ll be covering this one as it develops, but for now let’s stick with the “Quad” theme and check in on a most distressing development in Lake Elsinore.
Thunder, the mascot for the Lake Elsinore Storm, had his trusty quad stolen from a stadium storage shed! This sounds like it could be a joke, save for the legitimacy bestowed upon the situation by a local ABC news team.
The video is well worth viewing — check it out HERE.
My extensive reporting on the above topic led me to the Storm website, where I discovered the existence of the “Thunder Across Time” web series. How had I not known? This may turn out to be one of the greatest MiLB team video series of all time!
More creative use of video from the West Coast comes courtesy of the Fresno Grizzlies, who are conducting their annual National Anthem auditions in a most unique fashion.
If you think you have what it takes to sing in front of the best fans in Minor League Baseball at a 2012 Grizzlies home game, then upload your audition video to the Youtube between Wednesday, February 8th and Wednesday, March 14th. Winners will be chosen by the Grizzlies front office with the input of the number of video likes on YouTube.
We’re still a ways away from having a mascot sing the National Anthem, but boy oh boy can they ever dance. The latest (and therefore greatest) example of mascot rump shaking comes courtesy of Tulsa’s Hornsby. Or, as I like to call him, “Bull-yonce.”
Funny that the video is called “All the Single Hornsbys,” as in actuality there appear to be duplicates. But at least Hornsby is a known commodity. Up there in Michigan, the Great Lakes Loons are dealing with an extremely mysterious situation.
So who really does know what’s in the box? It could be anything. Or, maybe, there’s nothing at all. There would be some precedent for that, you know.