Results tagged ‘ Omaha Storm Chasers ’

Calling an Audible, in Blog Form

That last little run of “Return to the Road” posts was a pleasant diversion, and I hope to do it again in the near future (highlighting material from August’s trip to the West Coast). But, first, a more pressing concern: It is now time to plan 2014′s road trip itinerary, which means these offseason doldrums will soon be a thing of the past.

Cheer up, Spring is coming!

Fat3

I have a few road trip ideas in mind and  a few potential itineraries sketched out, but I would like your input as well. So, pitch me! My number one priority when it comes to these trips is to get unique and interesting material that will appeal to as many people as possible. (Ridiculousness is encouraged, but not mandatory.) So if YOUR team is planning something unique and interesting  that could result in great material for this blog and MiLB.com, then please let me know about it. Invite me out to the ballpark, and tell me about ways I can immerse myself in your interesting and unique ballpark experience. If I can work it into my schedule — time and money are finite resources at the moment — I will!

Please get in touch benjamin.hill@mlb.com. I thank you in advance; we now return to regularly-scheduled blog programming….

Russell Wilson is not only the quarterback of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, he is also a former Minor League Baseball player. The Texas Rangers acquired him from the Colorado Rockies in December’s Rule 5 Draft, and now one Rangers affiliate is doing everything they can to lure him back to the Minors. That team would be the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

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The gist of it is that if Wilson agrees to play a game as a member of the Pelicans, then the Pelicans will donate $10,000 to charity. For more information, please consult this video (warning: video contains copious footage of a shirtless general manager).

In other Super Bowl-related promo news: fresh off of their “Omaha! Omaha!” ticket initiative, the Omaha Storm Chasers announced the following promotion:

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Omaha and Peyton Manning have been connected in the news for the past three weeks, but besides general promotion for the city, Omaha sports fans have not had a reason to root for the Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Omaha Storm Chasers are attempting to add that rooting interest by offering 1,800 complimentary ticket vouchers to their July 6th game with Colorado Springs if the Broncos win the big game.

The Broncos did not win the big game, of course. Not by a long shot. Nonetheless, the Storm Chasers still gave away 480 tickets in honor of the debacle that was Super Bowl XLVIII.

480

And then, finally, there’s this. Let it be known that the Weasel approves of the Pacific Coast League’s newest entrant.

Nothing can top that bit of news. I’ll Encino you all later.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Bouillabaisse IV

I like doing things in threes — if only because it gives me a semi-legit reason to use the word “triumvirate” —  but sometimes three just isn’t enough. And sometimes, sometimes is now. That’s the case now, as in right now,  as in right now you are reading this not-at-all gratuitous, unnecessary and insufferably self-satisfied intro to, yes, an unprecedented fourth consecutive bouillabaisse blog.

Get ready for yet another cavalcade of new and/or notable items from around the seemingly inexhaustible world of Minor League Baseball! No segue!

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If you’ve been following the NFL playoffs over the past several weeks, then you’re aware that Peyton Manning often yells “Omaha!” prior to having the ball snapped to him. This inspired the Omaha Storm Chasers to call a promotional audible:

I’ll quote from the press release, if only because it is more existential in nature than most press releases of its kind:

This upcoming Sunday will be the first without football since last September 1 and after the Super Bowl on February 2, sports fans will have a Sunday void until the next NFL season begins. To help occupy this opening, the Omaha Storm Chasers are offering specialty “Omaha! Omaha!” Plans that will feature a majority of Sunday home games throughout the 2014 season for only $31 or $55.

Inspired by the 31 “Omaha” audibles by Peyton Manning in the Denver Broncos AFC Championship win over the New England Patriots on January 19, the Storm Chasers are offering Box Seat Tickets to 9 Sunday Games for $31 (or about $3.43 per game).

Omaha Storm Chasers Baseball: Occupying the Void since 2011!

nosegway

Regular readers of this never-faltering blogging empire are aware that I am a big fan of absurdist avant-garde interpretations of Minor League Baseball All-Star Game Home Run Derbies. (See Quad Cities River BanditsReading PhilliesCharleston RiverDogs, and Altoona Curve). On Thursday, the Wilmington Blue Rocks — hosts of this year’s Carolina League/California League All-Star Game — announced that they will be getting in on the act as well.

2014_Hitting_Challenge_Story_Photo_480x270_3l2vnkc9_1mlr9imdPress release excerpt in 29…28…27…26…25…24…23…22…21…20…19…18…17…16…15…14…13…12…11…10…nine…eight…seven…six…five…four…three…two…one:

[The Blue Rocks will be] the first Minor League baseball club to host a Home Run Derby where players bat from the outfield and try to hit the ball into the stands behind where home plate normally resides. That is the highlight of the Hitting Challenge that will open the California League/Carolina League All-Star Game festivities….on Monday, June 16.

The hitting challenge will feature some of the best young prospects in baseball from both the Carolina League and California League competing in two events. First there will be a hitting contest featuring targets that players will have to hit in order to earn points. Then there will be a home run derby. Fans will have the opportunity to catch any dingers off of these sluggers’ bats as the Blue Rocks will flip the field at Frawley Stadium. A new batting cage will be installed in center field and derby contestants will be awarded homeruns by hitting balls into the seating area.

nosegway

Last month I received an email from WordPress, service provider for the entire MLBlogs network, regarding my 2013 “Year in Blogging.” For what it’s worth, I wrote 128 posts in 2013, to bring the grand total to 1,026.  This was less than in year’s past (the blog began in October of 2007), but I’d like to think what I lacked in quantity I made up for in quality? Maybe?

Not surprisingly, food-related posts brought in the most traffic. March’s write-up on the Charleston RiverDogs’ new food additions was this year’s most widely “read” post, followed by a similar post on West Michigan. And coming in at number three was a post that is now almost four years old, on the RiverDogs’ “Pickle Dog”!  (I think this is because a picture from that post has been widely circulated on Pinterest.) Number four was the post that detailed my 2013 road trip itinerary — I think people actually read that one, rather than just looking at the pictures — and at number five was yet ANOTHER post featuring a Charleston RiverDogs food item.

I think the lesson here is that I should write more about the RiverDogs, but at the moment I have no new culinary information to share. So how about this video from the team’s annual holiday party, in which co-owner Bill Murray delivers his “State of the Team” address.

For more Charleston RiverDogs’ content (Bill Murray-related and otherwise), check out Josh Handler’s “Baseball from the Box Office” blog. Handler, a “rising front office professional” spent last season as a RiverDogs intern and I met him at the Winter Meetings.

Okay, I’ll stop with the gratuitous RiverDogs mentions. But for how long? Let’s return to the 2013 Year-End Blogging Report, which included the following information regarding the search terms that led people to visit Ben’s Biz.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for canadian tuxedo, ben’s biz blog,bens biz blog, skateboard, and brett favre.

The lesson here is that a picture of Brett Favre in an all-denim outfit riding a skateboard would be blog traffic gold. Can someone doctor one up for me?

Finally, a big thanks to those who have read this blog through thick and thin, especially 2013′s top 5 commenters. Take a bow Minoring in Baseball, Possum187, Dom Latkovski (Zooperstars! founder), Jordan (who may or may not be related to me) and the Charlie & Dave Army.

Okay, I’m officially out of material. Bouillabaisse mission complete!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Covering All Bouillabaisses

Over the last four months there has been plenty of content on this ol’ blog, from road trip retrospectives to Promo Seminar and Winter Meetings recaps to Job Seeker Journals to personal numerical milestones to re-branding round-ups to guest posts on attendance, Google stadium tours, and theoretical sports leagues. Just scroll through the archives! That, and much more, is all there for the (re)visiting.

But while I’ve continued to deliver the varied and indispensable content that one would expect from the Greatest Minor League Baseball Blog of All-Time (TM), one word has been missing from the conversation for nearly four months now. It is a word that is very dear to me, seeing as how it connotates an endlessly malleable approach to both topic and presentation.

Bouillabaisse.

Yep, today’s post is gonna be a bouillabaisse, a hodgepodge of Minor League news and notes that have been simmering together for quite some time on the pilot light that is my “blog topics” notebook page. As always, let’s hope that the sum is greater than its parts and, more importantly, that the remainder of this post (#1034 in Ben’s Biz history, for those keeping track at home) is less meandering and inconsequential than the intro. Not likely!

Let’s start at the top of the alphabet, as the always-reliable Altoona Curve have become the latest team to turn the oft-lackluster slugfest that is the All-Star Game Home Run Derby into something else entirely (see Quad Cities River Bandits, Reading Phillies, Charleston RiverDogs). Last month, the team announced “The Ghost Man Games Challenge.”

ghost man

The premise:

Ask almost anyone from any generation about a “ghost man” and it will conjure up childhood memories of playing baseball with imaginary base runners. The Altoona Curve (AA, Pirates) plan on bringing those ghost men to life as part of the 2014Eastern League All-Star Stop in Curve, Pa. on Tuesday, July 15. “The Curve, Pa. Ghost Man Games and Hitting Challenge” will cap an evening’s worth of activities at Peoples Natural Gas Field the day before the league’s annual All-Star Game.

Each division (Eastern vs. Western) will receive six ghost men and have the opportunity to earn up to 15 extra ghost men in five games leading up to the hitting challenge. The games include: Bubble Gum Blowing Challenge, Closest-to-the-Pin Flying Disc Toss, Mascot Mouth Accuracy Challenge, T-Shirt Cannon Catch, and Mascot Dodgeball Challenge. Each game will have three ghost men up for grabs.

Following the five, fast-paced games, three hitters for each division will take their hacks trying to hit home runs and doubles (anything that reaches the warning track on the fly). The trick will be how each division employs their ghost men ahead of home runs or doubles hit by the sluggers in order to score the most runs. Each hitter will get five outs before their turn or “inning” is finished. The divisions will take turns and play a three-inning contest.

You know what the above picture means? No segue!

Let’s move straight to the next item, which is this: the Nashville Sounds are playing their final season at Greer Stadium in 2014, and are commemorating it with this nifty logo:

greer-stadium-nashville-sounds-commemorative-mark-37-years-of-hits

It should read “37 seasons of hits,” if you want to get technical about it, but still: a cool logo. (And, with any luck, I’m hoping that 1978-2014 are not the dates that end up on my tombstone. Fingers crossed).

Meanwhile, on the other end of the birth-death continuum upon which we all reside, 2014 marks the Charlotte Knights’ first season in a brand-new downtown facility. This, too, has been commemorated in logo form, and it looks great. Joust great.

Charlotte Knights Inaugural Season Logo

 No segue!

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The Omaha Storm Chasers already have three mascots, a fact that, in the past, has been known to rile up ornery snarkhounds. Well, those of the curmudgeonly persuasion are going to go full-bore apoplectic once they hear of the team’s latest endeavor, as the Storm Chasers are adding three more mascots to the fold for 2014. These mascots are currently only identified via their silhouettes, such as this guy (who, if you read his character description, is clearly a piece of corn).

Omaha_Character1

Each of these three characters needs a name, so click on the above link if you want to register your opinion. My three choices are Kernel Cobb, Cap-Tin, and Tony Bone.

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A number of Minor League entities have dance teams that perform routines between innings, but this is even better: in 2014, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are going to have a drumline. It’s about time!

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Team sez:

This 15-member drumline will be a featured act at 15 home games throughout the season. The Designated Hitters will welcome crowds in the parking lot at Coca-Cola Park before games, participate in player introductions and perform Drum Battles atop the dugouts after select innings later this season.  

And for an example of even more unorthodox between-inning entertainment, please consider this from the IronPigs’ fellow PA denizens the Erie SeaWolves:

nosegwaybenjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Ben’s Biz Backlogged Blog Bonanza, the Sequel!

Hey, remember that thing I did yesterday? Where I wrote a bouillabaisse blog post that included a bunch of Minor League items thrown together in haphazard fashion? Well, that’s happening again, so buckle up the brain belt and drive right in!

After an extended liaison with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2013 marks the State College Spikes’ return to being a Cardinals affiliate. And, wouldn’t you know it? The team now has a resident cardinal. (They’ve named him Ozzie, as in Smith.)

cardinal
Minor League team stadium visitation by a species representing said team’s Major League affiliate are rare, though who among us can forget that time a crusty sailor took up residency at Clinton’s Ashford University Field after the LumberKings became a Mariners affiliate?

I’ll be visiting the West Michigan Whitecaps later this month — June 27th! — and if the ultra-spicy Squeeling Pig is available in gluten-free form then I’m definitely going to give it a try. Either way, it’s the only concession item I am aware of that requires a waiver.

In this video, some intrepid members of the team give it a try. No trips to the disabled list resulted.



I’ll also be visiting the Wisconsin Timber Rattler later this month — June 21 and 22! Think they’ll give me a ride in this sweet bullpen car?

bullpencar

I’ve written about Daytona super-fan Front Row Joe on several occasions, but little did I know that there is a Front Row Joe equivalent in good ol’ Curve PA. This Altoona Mirror article profiles Susan Mielnik, who has attended every Altoona Curve game since the franchise’s 1996 inception. Hats off to her!

I wrote about the Fort Wayne TinCaps rather brilliant Social Media Night jerseys in this week’s Promo Preview, which of course you read already. But that’s indicative of the team’s larger approach, as the TinCaps have been taking theme jerseys to new levels of transcendence all season. Just check out these 50′s Night duds:

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TinCaps creative director Tony DesPlaines writes:

Designed in-house and produced by Wilson, these jerseys featured a beautiful green argyle design with a jukebox on one sleeve and the TinCaps logo on the opposite sleeve. The team thought they looked like golfers, but from the stands they looked great.

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Speaking of theme jerseys, check out what the Omaha Storm Chasers wore during their Star Wars promo.

Force_Cutout

Force Hat

There’s more to this than meets the eye. Storm Chasers director of marketing and promotions Ben Hemmen explains:

May the FORCE be with you… The Omaha Force that is! It’s the second annual “What If… Night” presented by Autism Action Partnership featuring a unique Jersey auction…. Plus, it’s “Star Wars Night”! Dress up like your favorite Star Wars characters, help us find “Yoda” around the ballpark, hear Princess Leia sing the National Anthem, and meet Darth Vader. The force, Omaha & Jedi will definitely be strong at Werner Park Saturday night so it should not take a Jedi mind trick to tell you not to miss out on this special evening. What If… the Storm Chasers had been renamed the Omaha Force three years ago? Head out to Werner Park to find out!

More where all of this came from? Oh, you better believe it.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Mr. Robinson Has His Day in Omaha

One of my recent posts included a write-up on the Omaha Storm Chasers inherently ridiculous “Managerial Cell Phone Night.” Today, as a chaser to that shot of absurdity, I have a recap of Omaha’s April 15 Jackie Robinson Day promotion. Jackie’s legacy is celebrated throughout MLB every year, as you well know, but in the Minors it’s a bit more scattershot. It’s great to see teams like the Storm Chasers go above and beyond, setting a template for others to follow.

I’m now going to turn the floor over to Omaha promotions director Ben Hemmen, who provided the words and pictures you’ll soon see below.

#42 on the Field

The Omaha Storm Chasers, as part of the celebration on April 15th for Jackie Robinson Day, honored the baseball legend who broke the color barrier in 1947 by wearing specialty Omaha “42” jerseys and officially retiring the number 42 at Werner Park. 

#42 with OSC and KC Flags

Players during the National Anthem

Irving Falu-rty Two

Irving Falu-rty Two

The Storm Chasers recognized our annual “Chasers-Robinson Scholarship” winners as well as 42 local educators, and invited more than 4,200 school children from North and South Omaha to All About Kids Day presented by the Home Run Foundation of Greater Omaha.

Jackie Robinson Scholarship Winners

Scholarship Winners

Honoring 42 Educators

Educators standing beneath Jackie’s 42. (Also: it doesn’t exactly look like shorts weather, Mr. Hemmen.)

Kids in the stands

Some of the 4200+ kids in attendance

Sharon Robinson pre-recorded a “Welcome” message that was played during the game, thanking the Storm Chasers for wearing the specialty #42 jerseys and describing to the children the legacy that her father left behind for them to follow. Also during the game, educational facts about Jackie Robinson were displayed on the videoboard to focus on his importance to both the game of baseball and society to all of the kids in attendance.

Finally, all of the game worn, player autographed #42 jerseys were put up for both silent and online auction. All proceeds from those auctions ($3,690) were donated to our Home Run Foundation of Greater Omaha. The Home Run Foundation of Greater Omaha runs our Chasers FUNdamentals program which teaches intercity and underprivileged youth the game of baseball.

Jackie Robinson Replica Jersey Auction

Silent auction

Meanwhile! It’s Tuesday, meaning that a new Promo Preview column is out on MiLB.com. Included therein was this:

Harrisburg Senators (Eastern League) Mayfly Umbrella, May 4

The Senators play on Harrisburg’s City Island, surrounded on all sides by the Susquehanna River. This aquatic environment is a haven for pesky mayflies, which have long enlivened the ballpark atmosphere by electrocuting themselves en masse in the stadium lights and then raining down onto the fans below. Instances of insect corpse bombardment have greatly decreased since a roof was added to the grandstand of the stadium prior to 2010, but nonetheless the Senators want to make sure that their fans are prepared. The first 1,000 fans attending Saturday’s ballgame receive an umbrella emblazoned with the team’s alternate “Mayfly” logo, because if you’re going to get rained on by dead bugs, then you might as well have a sense of humor about it.

Perhaps it’s a bit anti-climactic, but since this is the first insect corpse deterrent giveaway item I’ve ever heard of I feel obligated to include a picture.

MayflyUmbrella5

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Market Saturation and Wireless Communication

Among this year’s crop of new Minor League logos, surely the most striking was the Lexington Legends’ away cap. It features a mustache, and nothing else. Or, if you prefer images to words, it features this:

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By adopting such a look, the Legends were clearly aiming to make an impact outside of their market. Ty Cobb, the team’s graphic designer, acknowledged as much when I spoke with him at the time of the logo’s unveiling.

“Minor League Baseball is all about the ‘wow’ factor, and we wanted to go beyond the normal stuff you’d see at the ballpark,” said Cobb, whose name is totally unremarkable. “And we wanted to be the team to do this first, to have a mustache on a hat. Our mascot, he actually has a mustache, so we’re not just hopping on a fad. … We’re going to be easily recognizable when on the road. Fans can just look at the mustache.”

As the Legends hoped, many fans have done more than just look at the mustache. They’ve gone out and bought it. As of today, the team has sold the hat in 45 out of 50 states en route to their goal of “mustache domination.” Or, if you prefer images to words:

domination2

For the most part, this is a simple matter of demographics as Alaska, Montana, Maine and Vermont are among the ten least-populated states. But Arkansas? What’s up with that? Nearly three million people live there — including those who are fans of fellow Royals affiliates the Northwest Arkansas Naturals — and yet none have sprung for a hat.

(Perhaps because headwear would only sully their beauty? As I learned last season, Arkansans are nothing if not beautiful. Just scroll through this blog post for proof!)

All of this begs the question — has any team ever sold a particular piece of headwear in all 50 states? Or will the Legends be the first?

Once again it is I, cold and alone, who asks the questions that no one else dares to.

Moving on to other matters, let this be your thrice-monthly reminder that my Promo Preview column runs every Tuesday on MiLB.com. Click HERE to read the latest edition, which is virtually hot off of the virtual presses.

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Included within this week’s column is a write-up on Thursday’s “Manager Cell Phone Night” in Omaha, which pays tribute to emerging dugout-to-bullpen communication technologies. Since the column went to (virtual) press, promotions manager Ben Hemmen (the second-best Ben H. working in Minor League Baseball, after yours truly New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes), sent the following supplemental information. I, for one, love it:

– In honor of all Major League Baseball “Calls to the Bullpen” happening on cell phones this season, the Omaha Storm Chasers are offering anyone who brings in a rotary phone or old cell phone for donation a “buy one box seat, get one box seat for FREE” ticket special.

– All “Calls to the Bullpen” will come with a special surprise from Jirsch [Manager Mike Jirschele]. We will also unveil never before heard or seen manager to manager phone calls, voicemails and texts on the videoboard.

 And since you can do everything on a cell phone these days, other exciting offers, deals, competitions, and games will take place at Thursday’s game:

– There will be a Facebook challenge that night for a FREE night at a future game in the Safeco Insurance/ Manager Mike Jirschele Dugout suite.

– If you e-mail the Team Store at the game that night (stormfront@omahastormchasers.com), you will receive a coupon for a special offer.

– A few lucky fans who use twitter on Thirsty Thursday and hashtag #BudLight or #Pepsi to @omastormchasers at the right time will have enjoy a beverage on the house.

– The person who posts the best picture of Manager Mike Jirschele to Instagram will win an autographed Mike Jirschele cell phone. 

I was going to end this post with a picture of Mr. Jirschele, but in my quest to find a photo of him I inadvertently stumbled upon this shot of Alice Cooper and Mike Moustakas. Love it to death:

alice_moose

photo: royals.mlblogs.com

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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2013 Promotions: Strange Combinations

Over the past two weeks I have spent a heroic amount of time combing through the promotional schedules of Minor League full season teams, in search of the best, brightest, weirdest and wackiest innovations that will be on offer during the 2013 campaign.

As always, this was a LOT of information to digest, especially since there are many teams that schedule multiple promotions for each and every contest. Such promo overload is the inevitable result of the industry’s never-ending quest to be all things to all people, and as an added bonus it sometimes provides unintentional comedy fodder. (The best example of this comes courtesy of an Eastern League club that shall remain anonymous, who in 2011 scheduled “Tribute to Michael Jackson” on the same evening as “Boy Scout Sleepover Night.”)

What follows is a brief list of absurd and/or incongruous promo combinations scheduled for the 2013 season. Maybe one of them will be incongruously taking place at a ballpark near you! (And, of course, if you have further examples then please send ‘em my way.)

Akron Aeros — International Juggler’s Day/Thirsty Thursday

This can’t end well.

Kannapolis Intimidators — $2 16 oz Budweiser drafts/Operation Family Time (May 17)

Spending time with the family can be stressful, but the Intimidators are offering a way to take the edge off.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans — Hangover Night/Thirsty Thursday (May 23)

Seems like “Hangover Night” would make more sense on May 24th…

Omaha Storm Chasers — Superhero Cape Giveaway/Diaper Derby (June 8)

Perhaps unprepared Diaper Derby participants could just use the cape?

Lakewood BlueClaws — Cecil Fielder Appearance/Wing Fling (June 12)

cecil-fielder-95

While perhaps not quite as rotund as his immodestly-named son, Tigers slugger Prince, there’s no denying that Cecil Fielder was one of the largest individuals to ever don a Major League uniform. He’s scheduled to sign autographs at Lakewood’s FirstEnergy Park on June 12, during which the BlueClaws will also be staging a “Wing Fling.” Local restaurateurs will compete in a “best wing” contest, and it seems to me that Cecil would be the perfect judge. And if he’s moved to participate in the scheduled “wing-eating contest”? Forget about it…

Quad Cities River Bandits — “Ghost Rider” Cowboy Monkeys/John Deere Night (June 15)

The Cowboy Monkeys usually ride border collies, but perhaps on this special evening they could ride a tractor instead.

Frederick Keys — Meet the Team/Pajama Night (June 23)

Finally — a socially acceptable way to mingle with professional athletes in an outdoor setting while wearing a bathrobe.

Frederick Keys — Military and Civilians Night (July 31st)

Or, as I like to call it — “Everybody Night.”

Hickory Crawdads — Kids Run the Show/Unemployment Night (August 7)

Well, yeah — when kids are running the show then the adults are out of a job!

I’ve got plenty more where this came from, and I’m sorry if that sounds like a threat.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Bottles-Up Enthusiasm in America’s Heartland

As you are certainly, painfully, acutely aware, voting for the 2012 MiLB.com “Promotion of the Year” is occurring NOW! The voting is in the home stretch, in fact, as it ends on October 22. So if you haven’t voted, vote now, and if you have voted, vote again! And if you’re not sure whether or not you voted, then you most certainly didn’t because doing so results in a feeling of joy so unforgettably transcendent that it will outlast the ephemeral concerns of this world and carry with you to the next.

Vote.

But anyway! One of the unfortunate but necessary realities regarding the Promotion of the Year nominees is that they do not include any in-game promos. (There’s just too much to narrow down as it is!) But that does not mean that I do not wish to highlight creative in-game endeavors. In fact, I will dedicate space on this blog to doing so whenever the opportunity arises. Case in point: last month, Omaha Storm Chasers promotions manager Ben Hemmen got in touch with info on his club’s recurring “Stir Up the STORM” promotion. I now turn over the virtual floor to him so that he may get to Hemmen and hawin’ about this unique effort:

The Omaha Storm Chasers did a first that we know of and used a fan to captivate the crowd at Werner Park. Meet Jan Huff aka Stir Up the STORM.

 Jan can be found every game somewhere around section 111. He started with a simple Sunny D bottle and the words, Stir Up the STORM. We took it from there. The initial Stir Up the Storm Cam started on a lazy, very hot Sunday.

From there, fans have embraced it by doing it AND making their own Sunny D bottles to bring to the game. Current Omaha Storm Chasers players & former MLB players (Darryl Strawberry being one) have done cameos for the Stir Up the STORM intro. T-shirts have been sold and we instituted it as a hole for our annual golf outing to raise money for MDA (If you did not pay $5, Jan yelled the whole time you were swinging. Stir Up the STORM could be heard over the entire golf course). 

Jan and the story behind “Stir Up the STORM” have been featured on our pre-game show and an article was written about it in the Omaha World Herald.

posing with Wil Myers (Myers being the one on the left)

Jan is a simple man who wants nothing more than to get the crowd at Werner Park involved during each game. We agree. As a MiLB organization, everything we do is for our fans.

Thanks for the info, Ben! Because of you, 2012 in-season content lives on for yet another day. There’s nothing left to do now but end with a highlight video as well as, of course, a simple exhortation to get in touch with your own favorite in-game promos. I’ll be here all month, all week, all year and beyond — yet all it will amount to in the greater scheme of things is an infinitesimal drop in the bucket of time.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Meat, Fire, Bobbleheads, Silence, and Announcers

As a hardened veteran of the anthropomorphic pork beat, I’m rarely phased by any of the news which emanates from this durable sub-genre of the Minor League Baseball experience.

But the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are really taking things to the next level. First came the announcement that “Barbie Q” had been added to the team’s stable of meat racers:

Barbie-Q will be racing against Hambone, Chris P. Bacon, and Diggity this season, and despite her newness on the scene she has already been granted a rare form of immortality:

This mammoth installation is called — what else? — Mt. Porkmore. On Tuesday the team asked fans to come up with a caption for the above image, and while many of the respondents didn’t quite seem to grasp the concept of “making a joke”, there sure were some good ones.

I think my favorite was “Do you smell what the rock is cooking?”, but one Dave Johnson deserves special mention for his submission of “We should give Dave Johnson from Bethlehem, PA some free Iron Pigs tickets.”

UPDATE: The team has since chosen a winning caption. One that is, in my mind, thoroughly “meaty”-ocre:

“Don’t take them for granite.”

But Pork isn’t the only thing cooking in the Keystone State. On Tuesday, the State College Spikes announced that Ted Batchelor would be making a Friday (July) the 13th appearance at the inimitably named “Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.” I’ve written about Ted Batchelor quite a bit on these virtual pages, but in case you need a visual refresher:

I have always been and always will be an advocate of the quixotic endeavor, and greatly appreciate that Minor League Baseball as an industry supports them as well. Batchelor’s goal is to be lit on fire in all 50 states — why not help him out?

Moving on to that which is only metaphorically incendiary, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have released the first in a series of videos promoting their Opening Day bobbleheads. I believe this is the first time that “Kill Bill” has been parodied within the Minor League landscape:

I also believe that, with this, the Omaha Storm Chasers have become the first team to make an online video stylistically inspired by the classic film era.

I’ll close with this random bit of uber-impressive information:

You may recall that way back in April I wrote about a post which mentioned the four Pacific Coast League announcers that had called at least 2500 games.  Eight months after the fact, Toledo Mud Hens director of public relations/broadcaster Jason Griffin wrote in with this:

Jim Weber has been calling Mud Hens games since 1975…he has called 4,720 Toledo games in a row without missing a SINGLE broadcast…if you assume a game of 2:40 that is 45,312,000 seconds of play-by-play.

Whoa! Has any active Minor League broadcaster been able to log that many seconds? Please write to me in September with your answers!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

From Hip-Hop to Defunct

No matter what your opinions may be regarding Carter IV, there’s certainly no disputing the fact that Lil Wayne remains one of the most influential hip-hop stars in the world.

And, last week, this taste-maker par excellence was spotted wearing the following ballcap:

Yes, that would be an Omaha Storm Chasers “O-Bolt” away cap! Wayne is clearly a big fan of manager Mike Jirschele and his PCL-championship winning squad, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts dropping Storm Chasers references into his raps.

Maybe something like “Put away the uzi, cuz, my lumber’s what weighs a ton/They call me Batman, Clint Robinson

(See, the Public Enemy reference doubles as an analogy to heavy lumber, leading to interpretation of “Batman” as someone swinging a powerful stick. This would certainly include Storm Chasers heavy hitter Clint Robinson, whose name doubles as “Robin, son” ie Batman’s sidekick).

And as if a Lil Wayne endorsement wasn’t enough, the Storm Chasers once again capitalized on their meteorological nomenclature and made a live appearance on the Weather Channel. On Thursday morning, assistant G.M. Rob Crain appeared live in order to promote the following deal: if temperatures hit 60 degrees that day, then the team would offer 60 season tickets at a 60% discount.

Indeed, this is just what happened.

Let’s move from 60% back into the world of hip-hop: 50 Cent, specifically.

Did you know that in recent video for “Wait Until Tonight”, Fiddy is wearing an Idaho Falls Chukars cap? This is the best picture I could find:

So we’ve got Lil Wayne reppin’ Omaha, 50 Cent reppin’ Idaho Falls. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to the next rapper to give an unexpected endorsement to an MiLB team, but Snoop and the Charleston RiverDoggs seems like an obvious choice.

Finally, congratulations to Barry Larkin on being elected to the Hall of Fame. The star shortstop only played 175 games in the Minors before getting the call-up to the Reds; 72 with the ’85 Vermont Reds and 103 with ’86 Denver Zepyhrs.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, here’s the Vermont logo:

Larkin was MVP of that ’86 Zephyrs squad, who played within the cozy confines of Denver’s Mile High Stadium. While I could not locate an image of the logo, here’s a look at the iconic train that the team could was named for.

You’ll note that it says “Burlington Route” in the center of the train, which is appropriate. The Vermont Reds were based out of Burlington, so that is indeed the route that brought Larkin to Denver.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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