Results tagged ‘ mascots ’

Asparagus: The Details

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.)

watch?v=vciUTJruLdk&list=UUwivBU_T238VXsk2Kn0dqDA&feature=plcp

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:

watch?v=lnk5UkapEBo&list=UUhxFRSBTWX4fjt5addCXz4A&index=2&feature=plcp

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.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On Innovations and Litigation

I don’t particularly feel like writing about hamburgers today and, hopefully, you’re not in the mood to read about them. Instead, let’s turn our collective attention to an unprecedented-in-MiLB social media innovation. The Reno Aces, otherwise known as the biggest little team in the PCL, have launched “The Club.”

Just for you, only the choicest of press release excerpts:

The Reno Aces Baseball Club today will launch The Club, a new program that rewards fans for game attendance and social media posts about the ballclub….

Participating fans will be able to earn points for checking in at the ballpark on Foursquare, liking the Aces’ posts on Facebook, and re-tweeting the Aces or using special hashtags on Twitter. Fans will also earn points for posting photos from Aces Ballpark to the photo-sharing site CrowdCameo…..

At the end of each homestand, one lucky fan will win a game-worn Aces jersey. At the All-Star Break, one fan will win tickets to the 2013 Triple-A All-Star Game and the 2013 Triple-A Home Run Derby, to be held in Reno next summer. At the end of the season, one lucky fan will win four Infield Reserved season tickets for the 2013 season, including tickets to the All-Star festivities. Fans will also have the chance to win seat upgrades, player-autographed items and other prizes throughout the season.

Archie is totally on board with all of this (photo: David Calvert/Reno Aces)

Points can be accumulated in a number of ways, and at varying levels (10 points for inviting friends to play, 100 for tweeting with a Reno Aces hashtag, 250 for checking in at a game on FourSquare, and so forth and so on). Read the FAQs HERE.

And congrats to current leader Dwayne Jones, who as of this writing has accumulated 38,490 points. That’s a lot of Minor League Baseball-related social media engagement! I can relate.

In other news of an anomalous variety, a press release landed in my inbox last week announcing the following: “Zooperstars! Successfully Defends Its Intellectual Property Rights”

Chances are that if you’re reading this blog then you’re familiar with the Zooperstars! (exclamation mark theirs, not mine). They are a traveling crew of pun-happy inflatable characters, who over the years have become one of the best known touring acts in the Minors. Here’s a shot of Harry Canary, taken last season while I was visiting the Tucson Padres.

Here’s what went down:

ZOOperstars! Inc. today announced that it has successfully defended its intellectual property rights against Inflatamaniacs LLC, a company which was created by a former ZOOperstars! employee. ZOOperstars! is an entertainment company that performs comedic choreographed routines at sporting and other special events around the world.

In April 2011, ZOOperstars! filed a lawsuit against Inflatamaniacs in federal court in Louisville, Kentucky, alleging that Inflatamaniacs created a knock-off act to unfairly compete with ZOOperstars!, infringed on ZOOperstars!’ intellectual property, and used both its website and You Tube to deliberately attempt to confuse and mislead customers and fans about the company’s relationship to ZOOperstars!.  In the agreement finalized last month, Inflatamaniacs agreed to make monetary payment to ZOOperstars! and agreed to stop using ZOOperstars!’ trademarks on its website, on You Tube, and during its public performances.  In addition, Inflatamaniacs agreed to stop performing several of ZOOperstars!’ signature routines which ZOOperstars! alleged were nearly exact replicas of its routines.  In exchange, ZOOperstars! agreed to dismiss its lawsuit, though it fully intended to pursue the lawsuit to final judgment.

Interesting stuff. I was thinking of tracking down one of the Zooperstars! for an exclusive interview, but then thought better of it.

There but for the grace of God go I.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

From 0-60 in 495 Words

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

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

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

Let’s review:

Aberdeen IronBirds, 10th Anniversary

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

Fort Myers Miracle, 20th Anniversary

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

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

But wait, there’s more:

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

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

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

Billings Mustangs 60th Anniversary

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

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

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Minor League MegaBytes!

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:

Extra! 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.

Butter Up!

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.

Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder’s stolen quad has been recovered!

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.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Return of the Crazy One

Hey hey my my, Ben’s Biz Blog will never die. But it will occasionally fade away so as not to burn out, before bursting back into the spotlight with a new level of luminosity.

So now that I’m saddled up on the blogging horse after a week long absence from the internet stable, how about a high-wattage post of vague symbolism, mixed metaphors, and, of course, all the Minor League news that’s fit to “print”?

Any objectors, conscientious or otherwise? No? Then let’s start with that which matters most: a nine-foot tall inflatable fish needs a name!

This 108-inch Pirate craniate will roam throughout Jerry Uht Park in 2012, inciting Erie Seawolves fans to new levels of ardor. Remarks the team:

The nine-foot tall, inflatable fish character will be unveiled on Opening Day and will accompany the SeaWolves long-time mascot C. Wolf during on-field skits, community appearances and other team events. 

Any suggestions as to what to name the fish? All I know is that if he’s ever hauled to court on charges of piracy, “gill”ty is sure to be the verdict.

And I’ll be honest here — the prominent inclusion of the above piece is news is largely motivated by the desire to once again post one of my favorite Minor League videos of all time. This earring-sporting fish is now part of a ballpark family that includes these characters:

I know what you’re asking me at this juncture —  So, you were gone for a week, and the best MiLB news you have to offer involves the nomenclature needs of a freakish fish? Au contraire! I also have a picture of a very strange groundskeeping phenomenon: watering the snow.

This picture, sent along by reader Peter Golkin (@Pedro_G on Twitter), depicts the scene at Richmond’s The Diamond last week.  So to all you groundskeeping folk out there — is “watering the snow” an actual tactic, or is the above photo merely documenting some sort of equipment malfunction?

I don’t have the time to find the answer myself, because a far more pressing endeavor involves learning the ins and outs of yet another social media platform: Pinterest.

Yesterday, the Durham Bulls offered fans a Pinterest exclusive:

The team announced that  they will add an alternate cap to their on-field uniform set, unveiling the look on the team’s new Pinterest page. To get an exclusive first glimpse at the new cap, visit http://www.pinterest.com/durhambulls.

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where users can browse, organize, and share photos or “pins” of things they find interesting.  The emerging social network is also known for its popularity among women.  In addition to seeing the team’s new alternate hat, followers of the Bulls’ Pinterest page can view pins on seven boards that include “AdoraBULL Apparel,” “Boys of Summer,” and “America’s Favorite Minor League Team.”  

Popularity among women? No wonder I had no idea…

That’ll be it for me today. But I have a lot of material left to share, as well as ideas and schemes and general brainstorming related to the upcoming season. While I enjoyed taking a week long break from the blog (and this job in general), it was extremely gratifying to return to an email inbox overflowing with thoughtful personal correspondence, random news tips, and promo schedules galore.

Thanks, as always, for giving me something to write about.

Also: anyone know what the title of this post is a reference to?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Events of a Largely Unprecedented Nature

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.

Says the team:

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.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

(Nacho) Typical Blog Post

The previous post on this blog ended with an anniversary logo (the Hickory Crawdads 20th, to be exact), so in the interest of seamless transitions let’s keep that particular train right on a-rollin’:

Good natured ribbon

It should be self-explanatory, but the above mark commemorates the fact that 2012 will be the Northwest Arkansas Naturals’ fifth season. They played their first season way back in 2008, when George W. Bush was president, the price of a postage stamp was a mere 41 cents, and Ben’s Biz Blog was less than a year old.

But enough about bygone eras. Let’s celebrate the future! The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers announced that there will be a nacho stand at the ballpark in 2012,  and the team is currently conducting a Facebook poll to determine what the stand should be called. I am pleased to report that my submission of “Nacho, Nacho Stand” is one of the finalists.

I am not pleased to report that, as of this writing, my submission has received all of 16 votes. “Class A Nachos” is currently in first, and, really, that one is not nearly as good as  mine or fellow contender “Nachossss.” Biz Blog readers, now is the time to rectify this egregious wrong! Vote HERE! (If I win, I’ll donate my free full-size free nacho grande helmet to charity).

I've had all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!

2012 will also be Season 1 for the new-look Swoop, mascot of the South Bend Silver Hawks. When Swoop last appeared in this blog, he was engaged in an intimate moment with a Miss America contest.

But those days of tongue-in-beak insouciance are over. For last week, the Silver Hawks gave Swoop a makeover:

Speaking of the Silver Hawks, they were, to my knowledge, the only MiLB team to run a local TV ad during the Super Bowl. That spot, cinematic in scope, can be viewed HERE.

Of course, a far more common Minor League approach is to engage in a spot of parody. The Frederick Keys did just this, putting their own spin on a FIAT ad (the original can be viewed HERE).

And speaking of the Super Bowl, you’ll no doubt recall that the last post on this blog started with info on the Lowell Spinners us-against-the-rest of the New York-Penn League big game bet.

It was a sizable gamble, and the Spinners lost. Therefore, mascot Canaligator is in for a summer of abject humiliation.

Even more so than usual:

As for me, I’ll be “writing a blog…all summer long.” Don’t you forget about me.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Recommended Reading

The posts on this blog are rarely team-specific during the offseason, simply because there is rarely enough content from one team to comprise an entire post.

Today is one of those rare occasions, as the Reading Phillies have unleashed a torrent of notable news upon the world. First and foremost, the team’s plans for the 2012 Eastern League All-Star Game Home Run Derby are downright hallucinogenic.

The above visual (yes, that is an intern on a crane out in left field) will all come to life on July 10. Perhaps some extensive quoting from the press release would be warranted at this juncture:

[P]layers will be trying to hit select targets around the field to earn points….targets include outfield dunk tanks, R-Phils fanatics jumping on a trampoline, and pink flamingo yard ornaments sprinkled around the outfield. 

Conversely, there will be obstacles hitters will want to avoid in order to not lose points. The Reading Phillies mascots will be scattered around the field, trying to snag balls hit by the all-stars. For each ball the mascots catch, the hitter will be penalized with negative points. 

While the hitting challenge is going on, an exclusive VIP party will actually take place right on the infield. These VIP quests will be protected by a net as they party away with homerun balls sailing over their heads.

Grammy Award-winning musician and Berks County resident David Cullen will also be performing uncomfortably close to the pitcher’s mound in a protected area as he entertains fans and all-stars in attendance.

Those desirous of a detailed visual explanation would do well to watch the team’s five-minute explanation video, linked to in the aforementioned press release.

My guess is that the R-Phils were influenced by the Quad Cities River Bandits, who last season put some very unique twists on the Midwest League Home Run Derby. Any other 2012 All-Star Game hosts planning something similar? Let me know!

Meanwhile, a new logo has come out of Reading as well. This:

Because nothing says "charity" like meat with a malicious smirk?

The above frankfurter, designed by the artists formerly known as Plan B Branding Brandiose, is the new mark for the club’s Baseballtown Charities.  Some explanation:

Baseballtown Charities, a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity, was launched ten years ago in association with the Reading Phillies in order to keep baseball alive in Reading through charitable donations to underprivileged youth, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to play baseball. The organization was also founded to pay tribute to Reading’s rich baseball history. 

Since its inception in 2002, the Baseballtown trademark has played a necessary part in the baseball community of Berks County. Under the Baseballtown namesake, FirstEnergy Stadium has played host to the High School All-Star Game and the Olivet’s Boy’s and Girl’s Club Championship. Each year, the organization crowns the King or Queen of Baseballtown to honor the past by recognizing that individual’s accomplishments and contributions to baseball/softball.

And, finally, with Valentine’s Day on the horizon the R-Phils have put out a video in which team employees explain the significant role that mascots have played in their love lives.

Maybe one of these days I’ll put out a video explaining how mascots played a role in mine.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

What Goes Around Comes Around

It is happening again.

This time around, the “again” that is “happening” are two staples of the Minor League Baseball winter time news cycle: Valentine’s Day mascot delivery and snow-covered field photos.

My days of exhaustively documenting all mascot delivery offers throughout the Minors have long since passed, as I need to maintain a facade of professional growth and momentum. Nonetheless, it remains my duty to note some of the more intriguing developments in the field. For instance, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs remain the only team that offers “Pork-o-Grams” to their fan base.

Two Pork-O-Grams packages are offered, but I would opt for “Package B” as it includes both a dozen roses and a pair of pig noses. Also, I can’t help but wonder if Diggity (pictured above) is related to the self-cannibalizing fellow who has long served as the logo for Lehigh Valley-based Yocco’s Hot Dogs.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to give the proverbial head nod to the Trenton Thunder. So far as I can discern, they are the first club to include a charitable component along with their mascot Valentine’s Day delivery package. 

The $150 package includes a dozen roses, a night in a luxury suite, and “as an added “heartfelt” bonus, a 25 ticket donation will be made in your name to the Trenton Thunder Charities Tickets For Kids Program.

And now we must move on the snow-covered field photo, an enduring staple of the Minor League Baseball offseason experience. These pictures of vast white expanse are meant to convey a sense of longing, for what has been and, yes, what will be.

The current kings of this subgenre are the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, with announcer/media relations man Chris Mehring leading the charge. Last week, as Appleton WI was blanketed by snow, his Rattler Radio blog was updated by the hour with new snow-covered pics. Here’s a 4 p.m. specimen.

If there’s snow on the ground you can’t play ball, so alternate forms of recreation are needed. Fort Wayne TinCaps mascot Johnny overcame his feelings of cold-infused melancholy by dusting off the ol’ American Flyer.

And speaking of melancholy, this is certainly the feeling pervading the city of Denver after the Broncos lost to the Patriots this past weekend. The loss also scuttled the JetHawks’ planned “Tebow Tuesday” promotion, detailed in Friday’s post. That’s a disappointing turn of events, to be sure, but at least it’s the first Tebow promotion to NOT result in a cease-and-desist letter.

For example:

And that’s going to be it for today — stay tuned tomorrow for the eagerly anticipated (?) third installment of “A Quarter Century After the Cardboard.”

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Big, the Old, and the Beautiful

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

You: Well, how big is it?

Me: 3600 feet.

You: [Blinks incomprehendingly]

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

This!

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

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

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

Congrats.

—-

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

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

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

DOB: April 7, 1902

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

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

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

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

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

This:

Details:

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

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

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

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

Silver Swoop of South Bend is one lucky bird:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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