Results tagged ‘ Mobile BayBears ’

Two Items of Note

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:

pow mia

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.

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Paw-pal infallibility

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.  

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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.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Turn the Page, Part 2

As you may recall, the last post on this blog was a bountiful bouillabaisse of ripped-straight-from-the-notebook Minor League news items. Well, that’s what this post is gonna be dedicated to as well.

But before we get started with that, please click THIS LINK to read this MiLB.com article detailing my Top 10 favorite Minor League stadiums. Feedback is appreciated and encouraged, and views both complementary and dissenting will be included in a future blog post.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

And now, to the notebook!

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I’ve never been a Jay Leno fan, but nonetheless there’s always been one thing I’ve loved about his show and that’s the weekly “Headlines” segment. And wouldn’t you know it? Last month, none other than the Lehigh Valley IronPigs made an appearance thanks to this newspaper ad:

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Watch it HERE, the IronPigs reference is around the 2:30 mark.

I haven’t yet compiled my 2013 Minor League promotions spreadsheet (yes, compiling such a spreadsheet is an annual offseason task), but one giveaway item that has already caught my eye — and you know how painful that can be — comes courtesy of the Lake County Captains:

On Saturday, July 6, a Skipper Rock-N-Bobble doll featuring the Captains mascot paying tribute to Randy Newman, an inductee in this year’s class of Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame musicians, will be given to the first 1,500 fans compliments of Sysco. This year’s doll will also feature a sound clip from Randy Newman’s Burn On, which is synonymous with the Major League movie. 

Yes! A Randy Newman-themed giveaway. And one featuring a song from “Sail Away,” arguably his best-ever album (it’s certainly my favorite). Here’s hoping Randy Newman promos spread through the Minors like a fire on the Cuyahoga. How about “Salute to American Foreign Policy Night”?

It’s pretty much indisputable that the Lexington Legends possess the best team van in Minor League Baseball. Great slogan, horrible pick-up line:

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photo posted by @Irrational_Fan on Twitter

Remember a few weeks back when I wrote about the Hickory Crawdads’ “Day in the Minors” fan package? This post prompted an email response from New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ media relations manager/broadcaster Tom Gauthier, who wrote:

While we don’t have a program like [the Crawdads], we do offer a program for young kids to experience a day in the life.  We work with Citizens Bank (sponsor love) to open up a handful of jobs for kids ages 6-16.  They shadow with us for an afternoon and then through the game itself. 

To read more about the Fisher Cats’ “Kids Run the Show” promo, click HERE.

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A kid, running things

Meanwhile, I’m more than happy to have kids shadow me for a day. As a veteran blogger, I will teach them how to show up to the office late and disheveled, overpay for lunch in lieu of bringing your own, and write jokes on Twitter instead of doing meaningful work.

You may remember my piece last season on the art of scorekeeping. In this piece one of the fans profiled was the pseudonym-ed “Stevo,” and I will now take the opportunity to direct you to his blog “The Baseball Enthusiast.” Stevo has just begun a series of posts entitled “For Those Keeping Score at Home,” featuring “intermediate to advanced” tricks of the trade.

I have a feeling that many readers of this blog will enjoy picking up what he’s putting down.

I’m pretty sure that the Reading Fightin’ Phils are the first team to give away their stadium, even if it is only for a day. Read all about it HERE. Or just look at this visual and wonder.

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I know that snow-covered ballpark photos are so two weeks ago, but here’s a good one courtesy of the New Britain Rock Cats. So soothing!

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In what I believe is a Minor League anomaly, the hair of Wilmington Blue Rocks mascot Rocky is real and actually grows. And once it grows long enough, he’s going to donate to Locks of Love. Click HERE to see his ‘do.

Proving that just about anything can be capitalized on by Minor League Baseball teams, the Mobile BayBears recently opened their arms to distressed travelers after the beleaguered Carnival Triumph finally limped into Mobile.

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Sez the team:

The Mobile BayBears would like to give all passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph cruise ship the opportunity to visit the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum for free on Thursday and Friday February 14th and 15th.

“We understand travelers have been through a lot in the past few days,” said team spokesman Craig Durham. “In an effort to make their time in Mobile as enjoyable as possible we encourage them to come see one of baseball’s most unique museums and pay tribute to Mobile legend Hank Aaron.”

The museum will be open from 9-5 on Thursday and Friday, and all non-Carnival passengers will be able to visit the museum for the standard price of $5.

NYC still has a long ways to go when it comes to fully recovering from Superstorm Sandy, and the Brooklyn Cyclones are doing their part via their “Meaningful Mondays” initiative. $3 from every ticket sold to every Monday game will go toward a local charity — read about it HERE.

Speaking of meaningful, I’d recommend that you read these most insightful observations from former Durham Bulls staffer Matt DeMargel regarding why employers should look at Minor League Baseball experience in a positive light. 

And now I have reached the end of this notebook page and, therefore, the end of this post. I’ll conclude by sharing this Augusta GreenJackets staff bio. The legend of Dumpster the Stadium Cat continues to grow!

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Who is CatDog?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Dan vs. Dave, Soak and Wade

As part of my unwavering commitment to always be several months behind when it comes to delivering blog content, today’s post returns to a topic that was first touched upon last week: Olympics-themed Minor League Baseball promotions!

That’s what you’re all here for, right? Then let’s do this!

In Eastlake, Ohio, the Lake County Captains satiated our nation’s pent-up desire for 1992 sneaker commercial nostalgia by staging their own version of Reebok’s Dan vs. Dave campaign. This time around, the Dan and Dave in question were Captains account executives Dan Torf and David Kodish.

Captains assistant general manager Neil Stein has more info, because of course he does:

[R]emember the 1992 Dan vs. Dave ad campaign for Reebok when those two were qualifying for the Decathalon….We decided to do our own Dan vs. Dave promo in honor of the Olympics, [beginning] when the opening ceremonies began. The two guys are competing in a Heptathalon (one event in 7 different games while the Olympics are taking place – that’s all we have at home during the Olympics). 

The resulting images were fairly ridiculous. Let’s all take a look, together as one.

While I’m not sure of the myriad twists and turns that led to the final outcome, let it be known that it was Dan Torf who emerged victorious. Here he is speaking with Grover, one of the most ebullient MCs in the biz.

Let’s just keep on rolling, because there’s always more to write about. If you have a moment to relax for a little bit, then take a deep breath and watch this stirring tribute to Mobile BayBears batboy Wade Vadakin. On July 21st, Wade worked his 1000th (!) game for the BayBears, and the team made sure that his accomplishment received ample recognition.

We have not hit upon my secret self-imposed word limit quite yet! Therefore, let’s take a look at a late-season Delmarva Shorebirds innovation. The team partnered with sponsor Pool Tech, Inc. and installed a hot tub seating area down the third base line. Fans vied for the chance to sit in the hot tub during the game via a Facebook contest, and judging by the picture below it looks like Randy Newman may have been one of the chosen few.

This is not the first time I’ve written about hot tubs at Minor League ballparks, but I can’t recall any other teams that did this in 2012. Prove me wrong, please. Or prove me right. At this point in the calendar year, all that really matters is that someone takes the time to momentarily validate my existence.

And with that gratuitous sentence, I have now exceeded my self-imposed word count. Thanks, as always, for tolerating the barely-suppressed series of OCD rituals that is this blog.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

And I Was Like “Bay Bay Bay Bay Bay Bay”

The latest and therefore greatest era in Southern League history kicked off last night, as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos played the first game of their incipient existence. And while you’d think the team hasn’t been around long enough to have any enemies, you’d be wrong.

Pensacola is the proverbial hop, skip, and a jump away from Mobile, home of the BayBears, and proximity breeds contempt. This contempt has now manifested itself in the form of the “Bay to Bay Series.

Sez the press release:

The Mobile BayBears and Pensacola Blue Wahoos are proud to announce their rivalry in the inaugural “Bay to Bay Series.” Fans can expect several rivalry themed events at both ballparks this year, including BayBears fans versus Blue Wahoos fans in-game contests, promotions and series leader boards.

The Bay-to-Bay Series is the very first joint-sponsored, event-based rivalry program in Minor League Baseball. Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile and Maritime Park in Pensacola are just one hour apart from each other.

The uber-snazzy logo seen above was designed by Brandiose, who were responsible for both teams’ logos in the first place. I do wonder, however, if Mobile fans are upset that Pensacola is the “home” team while the BayBears are clearly “second”ary.

You may remember a recent post in which I heaped praise upon the Charleston RiverDogs for their latest “Be Your Own Fan” initiative, featuring marketing initiatives geared to nine unique groups of fans. The Fort Myers Miracle, who are part of the same ownership group, have now done the same.

The eight categories of Miracle fans are as follows: the prospect, the fanatic, the family, the foodie, the brewskie, the retiree, the opportunist and the event seeker.Here’s how it looks, in action:

And now that it’s a new season, I imagine that you may need something new to read (that reasoning doesn’t really make sense, but just bear with me).

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ broadcasting/blogging dean Chris Mehring has posted his club’s 2012 intro songs. These posts are always a fascinating glimpse of the zeitgeist, and illustrate the diverse backgrounds of Minor League players.  (I do find it hard to believe that Seth Miller chose “What Is Love” on his own volition, however. And, for what it’s worth, I find “Narcissistic Cannibal” to be a far better song title than actual song.)

Meanwhile, from Kentucky, we have the what I believe to be the first blog from a Minor League host mother perspective. Check it out, while I sit here and wish that there was a similar program for underachieving bloggers.

I’ll close with — what else? — dessert. These “Mini Apple Pie Bites” are available for consumption at Toledo Mud Hens games this season.

Baseball sold separately.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Read Up While Counting Down

Opening Day countdowns are a recurring feature of many teams’ Facebook and Twitter feeds, and for good reason. It’s a quick and easy way to keep baseball’s imminence in the collective consciousness.

One team that you can really count on when it comes to counting down are the Delmarva Shorebirds, who are in the homestretch of an ambitious and creative “30 Days of Opening Day” promotion.

Sez the press release:

Starting on March 14, which is 30 days removed from the home opener, the Shorebirds will have a new event, appearance or contest planned each day leading up to April 12.

This includes mascot tour stops, local TV appearances, a Fan Fest, a “Player’s Send-off Party” and recurring weekly promotions such as “Donut Monday,” “Talk to Me Tuesdays,” and “Weenie Wednesdays. ” It is my opinion that “Donut Mondays” should be adapted by every MiLB team. Each Monday morning, the team posts the following message on Facebook:

Post a picture of your office or place of business on our wall and your office could win a delivery of donuts from us tomorrow morning! The post with the most ‘likes’ by 5pm today wins!

It’s a hole lot of fun! (Hope your eyes didn’t glaze over at that last sentence. I dough my best).

Another innovative endeavor comes courtesy of those very same RiverDogs who were featured in Monday’s post. Late last week, the team announced the latest component of their “Be Your Own Fan” marketing campaign.

Another press release, another excerpt. This is how we roll:

Fans will have the opportunity….to register for “Be Your Own Fan” campaign. Upon registering, fans will receive a free colored coded bracelet, plus emails, offers and incentives that cater to their interests and to the reason they come to the ballpark.

There are nine unique fan groups from which to choose:

  • The Networker: Comes to the ballpark to meet and connect with people and utilize the facility’s atmosphere to create business relationships;
  • The Foodie: Someone who loves the various food offerings at The Joe;
  • The Family: Comes to games because they know that a RiverDogs game can always be counted on to provide an evening of quality, wholesome family entertainment;
  • The Socializer: Comes to The Joe to because they know that it is THE place to be seen;
  • Promo-Sapian: Always into the wacky between innings promotions and awesome giveaways;
  • The Traveler: Visits the ballpark for a taste of true Charleston hospitality;
  • The Pyro: Loves the many postgame fireworks shows at The Joe;
  • The River Pup: The younger fans at the park that have a blast as members Charlie’s Kids Club;
  • The Super Fan: Knows the RiverDogs’ roster by heart and wears that heart on his/her sleeve.

The Goldklang Group’s “Be Your Own Fan” campaign has been running for a few years now and, while a good slogan, I often found it to be a bit vague in execution. The above initiative is a real step forward, then, as it clearly details all the ways in which the RiverDogs (and, by extension, Minor League Baseball) can appeal to diverse groups of people.

Minor League Baseball’s appeal can extend to aspiring foul line guardians of advanced age, and the Mobile BayBears are reaching out to exactly this demographic with their “Golden Glovers” program.

Taking a cue from the San Francisco Giants’ long-running “Ball Dudes” promotion, the BayBears are offering the following opportunity to those over the age of 60:

[E]ach BayBears home game, two “Golden Glovers” will report to the field and sign a one-day contract with the BayBears. Responsibilities will be to suit up in uniform and protest the foul lines. BayBears manager Turner Ward will provide key strategies in stopping foul balls down the lines and making sure the “Golden Glover” provide the foul balls to the kids in the stands.

So there you have it, folks. Another blog post, another array of creative and adaptable ideas from the world of MiLB. Thanks for your support; I’ll be here all week.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Celebrating the Past, in the Present

I took a vacation day on Friday. It was a vacation that brought me all the way to my kitchen, which I cleaned.

True story.

Also on Friday, my latest “Minoring in Business” article appeared on MiLB.com. It was about using a team’s history as a promotional tool, and focused on an in-depth project undertaken by the Visalia Rawhide.

The article was inspired by broadcaster Visalia broadcaster Donny Baarns, who gave a speech at the Winter Meetings entitled “Learning From Orwell: How History Can Enhance Your Club’s Brand.” There are many advantages to a historically-minded marketing approach (read the article!) but one of Baarns’ more unexpected examples was this: re-connecting with old sponsors.

In 1952, Buckman-Mitchell Insurance had their name at the top of the club’s pocket schedules.

At some point along the way, Buckman-Mitchell stopped sponsoring Visalia’s professional baseball team. But upon being shown the schedule seen above, the company is now back on (bill)board.

Visalia’s efforts have been particularly impressive, but historically-minded promotions and displays can be found throughout Minor League Baseball. The  Rickwood Classic, in which the Birmingham Barons return to their former home for an afternoon of nostalgia, is a justly-celebrated annual tradition. I was lucky enough to attend in 2010.

Also in 2010, the Mobile BayBears opened the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum. In an unprecedented effort, they moved Hank Aaron’s childhood home to the grounds of the stadium, renovated it, and re-opened it as a museum.

I attended the opening, which was attended by luminaries even more luminous than myself.

Feller, Smith, Sutter, Jackson, Aaron, Henderson (Willie Mays not pictured, but he was there!)

And then there are the Delmarva Shorebirds, whose stadium hosts the “Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Finally, last week I took to Twitter in order to ask “In what ways do you promote your team’s history, at the ballpark and otherwise?”

I got a wide range of responses, including the following:

Bowie Baysox: Celebrating 20th anniversary this season. Articles on website recapping past seasons, and several events scheduled during season.

Connecticut Tigers: Pay tribute to Norwich’s previous franchise by staging “Navigator’s Night” promotions with throwback jerseys.

Hagerstown Suns: Put out a “Legends” baseball card set honoring players from throughout the past three decades.

Harrisburg Senators: All time roster on a board, and pictures of the ballpark going back 60 to 70 years.

High Desert Mavericks: Year-by-year Opening Day line-ups displayed on stadium pillars.

Inland Empire 66ers: 66ers celebrated 25 years last season. Had articles on team history, wore throwbacks every Tuesday and did themed giveaways.

The San Jose Giants went ahead a sent a few photos, of the hand-painted murals and timelines located throughout the ballpark.

Scooter Tucker's first appearance on this blog

And on and on it goes. This is the part of the blog where, without the slightest hint of disingenuosness, I ask YOU to get in touch.  In what ways is history celebrated and promoted by your favorite Minor League team? What else could be done?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Promo Year In Review, Part Four: Marvelous Miscellany

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Over the past three days, I’ve presented my picks for favorite giveaways, theme nights, and celebrity appearances of the year. Nearly all Minor League promos fall into at least one of those categories, but lest anything slip through the cracks I’ve created a fourth and final category. For lack of a better name, I’m calling it “Marvelous Miscellany.”

The following six promos don’t have much in common with one another, save for the fact that they were all exceedingly memorable. But what am I missing? Surely there were many other tough-to-categorize but eminently worthwhile ballpark events that deserve postseason commemoration — let me know!

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

————————————————————————————————————————————–

My six picks, magnanimously presented in alphabetical order.

Birmingham Barons —  Rickwood Classic/100th Anniversary of Rickwood Field

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Frederick Keys — Volt Night

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Huntsville Stars –
Car Survivor

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Mobile BayBears — Opening of Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum

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San Antonio Missions — Puffy Taco, the Re-Match

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Savannah Sand Gnats — Fire Walk Around the Bases

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What can I say? It’s a random assemblage, but you know what else is random?

Life.

I’m just using this blog to illuminate universal truths. Also, to solicit feedback. Keep your promo suggestions coming, in all categories. You know where to find me.

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

I’ve Got You, BayBears

baybears logo.jpgAs previously mentioned, I was in Mobile, Alabama last week in order to attend the gala opening of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum. Read up on it HERE, if you so desire (and HERE, while you’re at it).

Fortunately, I was able to document my experience in Mobile above and beyond Wednesday’s extravaganza. In addition to several abbreviated bouts of aimless wandering, I also attended Thursday’s Mobile BayBears game (a FAR more subdued atmosphere than the day before). Let’s go to the pictures!

The Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum:

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Willie Mays Arrives at Wednesday’s Grand Opening: The “Say Hey Kid” disappeared shortly thereafter making his entrance here, leading to concerns that he was under the weather. But he participated in the pre-game on-field ceremony less than two hours later, telling a humorous anecdote about the difficulty of assembling National League All-Star line-ups in the 60s.

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Hank at the Podium:

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The Hall of Fame Crew:

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Inside the Museum:

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On Thursday, I was able to explore Hank Aaron Stadium as the BayBears took on fellow Alabamans and Southern League rivals the Birmingham Barons.

Stadium Exterior

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Thirsty Thursday (Beer Through A Straw)

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Frito Pie, the Perfect Complement to $1 Bud Products

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The BayBears honor Mobile’s rich baseball history throughout the concourse.

A Nod to the Atlanta Braves:

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Each of the team’s suites is named after a Mobilian Major Leaguer. I do have to take issue with this sign, however, as Satchel notched a LOT more than 288 strikeouts throughout his career. Major League Baseball was just slow to catch on to his talents. REAL slow.

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Here’s another distinguished suite honoree –

The Wizard

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Behind the Curtain

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On-Field Action

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Tropical Environs Down the Left Field Line

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One the team’s most popular recurring in-game promotions is the Rally Rave. For 90 exhausting seconds, team employees dance to frenetic electronic music in the press box while throwing rally caps into the crowd. The official “Rally Rave” video can be viewed HERE, but I must say I was pleased with my own attempts to video the spectacle. I did NOT speed this up in any way:

And this is the cap being tossed into the crowd. It is naturally inside out, so if you turn it inside out it becomes outside in and if you are awake you start to dream and vice versa.

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And, finally, I happened to film a most comical mascot race. The quality isn’t the best, but

when it comes to this blog when is quality ever the best? (please don’t answer that)

And while I did not have as much time as I would have liked to explore Mobile, I must say I was quite smitten with Dauphin Street and Bienville Square. The slow, surreal, timeless quality of the area is a world away from the hostile hustle and bustle that I am used to here i the Northeast.

The Big Apple, Southern Style:

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Kids Are Better Dressed Here, Too:

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Bienville Square

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Well, that’s gonna do it for me and Mobile. Apologies to all those who have sent me blog-worthy material over the past several days. I’ll get to it eventually, promise.

And, as I’ve surely mentioned before: I would like to visit YOUR hometown stadium. Invite me, please, and I’ll do my best to transcend my usual non-committal ways.

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

A Clean, Crisp, and Concise Cornucopia

bg.jpgMany apologies for my sporadic posting of late. What it comes down to is that I have no idea how to structure my life. But enough about me!

In order to, how you say, “get up to speed”, I’m going to rip a page out of my “Promotion Preview” playbook and write about a number of topics. But, here’s the catch — each of these topics will receive no less than 75 and no more than 125 words.

Go!

Wear This and You’ll Have a Ball, Girl — Anybody out there need a last-minute Halloween costume? Then head with a quickness to fresnogrizzlies.com, as the team is offering fans the opportunity to dress as the infamous “ballgirl” who was all the rage last season. You know, the one who made a spectacular leaping grab in Chukchansi Park, completely unaided by any sort of stunt cables or special effects. The costume, which costs $60, includes a Grizzlies cap and home jersey. For maximum realism, call up Jake Wald (the hapless left fielder featured in the clip) and ask him to accompany you to your Halloween party.

While We’re On the Topic of All Hallow’s Eve — Who knew? Halloween is indeedpumpkin.JPG celebrated in Canada. I know this is so because the Vancouver Canadians are staging a pumpkin decorating contest. But hurry, the deadline to submit a tricked-out gourd is today. So don’t delay, and send photographic evidence of your pumpkin prowess to aseymour@canadiansbaseball.com…In other Halloween news, Slugger the Portland Sea Dogs mascot was looking for Trick-or-Treat partners — and he found some. Congratulations to the Wareham family of Goreham, ME, who will be accompanied in their candy-pilfering rounds by Portland’s most beloved costumed character.

ports.gifThe Bands, They Are A Battlin’ — Also occurring over Halloween weekend is the Stockton Ports’ first-ever Battle of the Bands. 18 aspiring music combos will take the stage at Banner Island Ballpark over the two-day extravaganza in order to showcase their kinetic musical chops and electromagnetic stage presence. In addition, each evening features a headling band as well. The Righteous and the Wicked (a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band) is scheduled to play on Friday, while groove rockers Minor Dischord close it out on Saturday. Hey guys, you should be more specific and bill yourselves as “Class A Advanced Dischord.” Anyhoo, the winner of this “Battle of the Bands” will be showered with a vast array of musical industry goods and services.

Hank’s Mobile Home Enjoys Brief Stint as a Mobile Home — Regular readers of this blog (ie those not drawn here by a picture of Lucille Ball) will remember this post, in which I detailed the Mobile BayBears’ plans to bring Hank Aaron’s childhood home to the grounds of Hank Aaron Stadium. Well, the club did just that this past week, subjecting the humble residence to an arduous seven-hour journey. I’d say that the whole thing went off without a hitch, except for the fact that a hitch was used in order to transport the house. Regardless, Hank’s old home is now scheduled to receive a six-month restoration, after which it will serve as a museum.

Pick the Improvement Picked — Oh, regular readers, I must defer to you once again. Because surely you remember this post, in which I detailed the Quad City River Bandits’ “Pick the Improvement” contest. As part of this innovative procedure, fans were given the chance to vote on a new upgrade to the River Bandits’ Modern Woodmen Park. Well, the results are in, and the improvement to be made is…drumroll please…the addition of backs to the bleacher seats. Cue the Sir-Mix-A-Lot!

Snap These Up! — Collectors of Minor League memorabilia will be pleased to know that theThumbnail image for catesmil.jpg Beloit Snappers are offering up a plethora of game-used jerseys. Of particular note is the fact that items worn by Chris Cates and Loek Van Mil are available. Regular readers (take a bow, you guys!) will remember this post, which highlighted the fact that these teammates were the shortest and tallest players in all of professional baseball last season. My suggestion? Buy each players’ jersey, and use it as the centerpiece of a homemade exhibit that seeks to highlight the vast diversity that exists within the human race.

Wanted: An Affable Toothy Whistlepig — A previous post on this blog (which may or may not have been read by those who visit regularly) detailed the fact that the Gwinnett Braves had unveiled their new mascot. Well, that was all well and good, but now the club needs a brave and talented soul to step up and inhabit this intriguing character on a nightly basis. In order to do this, the G-Braves are holding mascot auditions on Nov. 18 at a local high school. All aspiring costumed groundhogs are invited to
attend.

Clean Sweep, the Sequel — This past March, the Huntsville Stars staged “Operation Cleanhd.jpg Sweep”, in which fans were asked to do volunteer beautification work at Joe Davis Stadium in exchange for free tickets. The event, believe it or not, was a huge success, so the team is doing it again. Clean Sweep 2 will be held on November 1, and will give fans the chance to fullfill their lifelong dreams of doing “light cleaning, light landscaping, and painting” at a Double-A stadium. But that, of course, is not all — from the press release: “Fans will be able to taste-test an assortment of different hotdogs and
vote to decide which one will become the official hotdog of Joe Davis
Stadium for the 2009 season.” But remember — with great power comes great responsibility!

My goodness, this has been one of the longest posts in the history of this esteemed blog. I did it for you, regular readers, I did it for you. As always, get in touch with tips, questions, comments, and criticisms:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

A New Home For An Old Home

aaron home.jpgHank Aaron’s former Mobile home will temporarily become a mobile home, as the Mobile BayBears announced yesterday that they will be moving the legendary slugger’s childhood residence to Hank Aaron Stadium. This, of course, is the immobile home of the Mobile BayBears, who are currently on the road.

If you are confused, I take full responsibility. This compulsion to engage in unnecessary wordplay is reaching epic proportions.

Here’s the deal: Hank Aaron was born in Mobile’s Toulminville district, and his family has recently announced its decision to donate his childhood home to the city of Mobile. The city has wisely decided to restore the home and then move it to the grounds of the BayBears’ Hank Aaron Stadium.

Once there, it will become the Hank Aaron Family museum. From the press release:

“The home will be restored and will become a museum showcasing the history of Hank andHank Aaron HOF plaque.jpg his family during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s…The renovation will take place from October 2008 into the spring of
2009 and plans are to open the museum in April as the BayBears will
celebrate Hank Aaron’s 75th birthday all season long.”

But, of course, that is not all:

“In addition to tours of the home, during BayBears games, fans will have
an opportunity to picnic in Hank’s backyard. A white picket fence will
be constructed in the back of the home with picnic tables. Plans are
for groups to tour the stadium grounds, Hank Aaron Family Museum and
view a video in the Harbor Communications Center about the life of Hank
Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank is far from the only baseball luminary to hail from the city of Mobile, as the likes of Willie McCovey, Ozzie Smith, Juan Pierre, Satchel Paige, Billy Williams, Amos Otis, and Jake Peavy were also born there. Maybe the city can tow the homes of all these players to Hank Aaron Stadium as well, in the process creating a neighborhood of local sports superstars.

(photo credit: Mary Hattler, Associated Press)

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