Results tagged ‘ Omaha Storm Chasers ’
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.)
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?
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:
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.
Speaking of theme jerseys, check out what the Omaha Storm Chasers wore during their Star Wars promo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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 (email@example.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:
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I have faith that I can do this, that I will get it right on the first attempt. Here it goes:
Success! Having spelled bouillabaisse correctly, there is nothing left to do but dive right into the bouillabaisse equivalent of a blog post — a little bit of this, a little bit of that, liberal amounts of seasoning, and plenty of time spent simmering.
I’m not sure any of this makes sense.
But who cares? There’s no turning back now! Upward and onward to a new logo!
Like Dunedin, Bluefield’s new look was prompted by parent Toronto’s recent identity overhaul. It’s a sharp and simple sartorial approach, befitting the no-frills Appy League atmosphere in which Bluefield resides.
In further logo news, the Omaha Storm Chasers unveiled an alternate mark yesterday.
In other, non-visual news, the Memphis Redbirds recently became the first MiLB team (that I am aware of) to host a so-called “Twinterview.” Last week, team alumnus and current World Champion Daniel Descalso participated in a Twitter-based Q&A with the team’s fans (who submitted questions through the team’s Twitter account, along with the hashtag #twinterview).
My favorite exchange went as follows:
@memphisredbirds: Tell us one thing about you that the fans don’t already know. #Twinterview
@DanielDescalso: Hmmm…my last name literally means “no shoes” in Italian and Spanish.
Congrats to the Redbirds for coming up with a creative way to engage with the fans during the offseason. The next “Twinterview” takes place tomorrow at 2 p.m. CST. John Jay is serving as the question recipient this time around.
You may remember that in October I devoted a post to the Frederick Keys’ “Volt Night”, a book release party/concert/kickball tournament in honor of a new cookbook being released by local culinary heroes the Voltaggio brothers. As opposed to reading my aforementioned blog, those wishing to see what the night was all about should check out this video:
Finally, let’s close out this latest (and therefore greatest) bouillabaisse with a short and sweet team-produced video. The Tulsa Drillers would like you to know that although you can take the bull out of the ring, you can’t take the ring out of the bull.
Or something like that:
Last Friday I wrote a feature story on the new-for-2012 Pensacola Blue Wahoos, but the westernmost region of the Florida panhandle isn’t the only area in which affiliated ball will debut next season.
How about them Grand Junction Rockies? The team, located in Western Colorado, was officially introduced to the public at a press conference yesterday. The Rockies will play in the Pioneer League, as the Rookie-level affiliate of the (surprise!) Colorado Rockies. Read all about it in my MiLB.com piece.
And with a new team comes a new logo. Here it is, in all its parent-club referencing glory:
As noted in the MiLB.com piece, the key difference between this mark and that of the Colorado Rockies is that the mountain range has been replaced by a mesa. As I learned today, Grand Junction has more Mesas than Jose’s family reunion.
As a club that plays in Colorado and owned by the same folks that own the Colorado Rockies, it’s not surprising that Grand Junction is going the conservative route with its look. The same could not be said of the team that they are replacing: the Casper Ghosts. As you may recall, this was the only team in professional baseball whose primary logo glowed in the dark.
In glossing over the article I wrote when the Ghosts’ logo was unveiled on Halloween 2007, I came across the following quote from team CEO Kevin Haughian.
“I originally wanted to be the Casper Weinbergers, but we figured no one would get it.”
The Ghosts’ logo was designed by Plan B Branding, which, as of today, is no longer Plan B Branding. As detailed on this blog last week, the company unveiled its new name via a week-long internet scavenger hunt. And that new name is:
Logo fiends should enjoy poking around the new website, particularly the “Behind the Scenes” section. Said section is chock-a-block with info and photos regarding how many of the Minors’ top logos came to be.
The announcement of the “Brandiose” name comes exactly one year after another notable name change. For it was on November 15, 2010 that the Omaha Storm Chasers were introduced (themselves a Plan B/Brandiose client, natch).
The name was heavily criticized by those within the community and without, and my response to the criticism (specifically that of then-ESPN columnist Rob Neyer) was the most widely-read and commented upon offseason blog post that I have ever wrote. Give it a (re)read, if you’re so inclined.
Ah, November 2010. I was so young and strong back then.