Results tagged ‘ Peoria Chiefs ’
In 1985, most Americans were engaged in one of three important tasks: Perfecting a Max Headroom impersonation, blasting “Oh Yeah” on a portable cassette deck, or counting off the days until a post-Hands Across America global utopia.
But not Greg Maddux. The future Hall of Famer was plying his trade in Peoria, in the first full-season stop of what would turn out to be a 25-year professional career. In 1985, Maddux went 13-9 with a 3.19 ERA over 27 starts for the Chiefs. En route to doing so, he tossed 186 innings and six complete games, unthinkable numbers for a 19-year-old prospect in our current era of over-the-top pitch count obsession.
This past Friday, the Chiefs retired Maddux’s #31 jersey in a pre-game ceremony. The mayor of Peoria proclaimed June 11th to be “Greg Maddux Day”, thereby imbuing the event with instant legitimacy. Speeches were made by Chiefs president Rocky Vonachen, his father (and former club prez/all-around Peoria baseball legend) Pete Vonachen, and Maddux himself.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: photographic evidence!
Maddux, flanked by Pete Vonachen and Chiefs broadcaster MC Nathan Baliva:
And speaking of playing in Peoria, the Chiefs recently hit upon a brand-new form of in-game entertainment: Dueling Pianos. Two ivory ticklers from the nearby Jive and Wail piano bar set up shop atop the dugouts, providing a rollicking soundtrack to the entire evening.
Check it out!
Perhaps Dueling Pianos at live sporting events will be the next craze to sweep the nation, making a cultural impact on par with Garbage Pail Kids, Bonkers Candy, or at the very least Young Sherlock Holmes.
Team president Alan Stein was listening to venerable sports radio duo Mike and Mike yesterday morning, and his ears perked up upon hearing…this:
After ESPN’s NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy kiddingly suggested that his
television crew should interview fans about their thoughts on the first
half of a game, Mike and Mike’s producers put together some staged
“interviews” with fans. Mike Golic suggested on the air that somebody
might like that idea and pilfer it.
If there’s one thing that Minor League teams excel at, it’s pilfering ideas. So, you can see where this is going:
At each of the Omaha Royals’ 72 home games this season, the Royals
will use a half-inning break for a “Mike and Mike Fan Mic” – going into
the crowd at Rosenblatt Stadium and asking fans what they think about
the game, how cold their beer is, or whatever else they want to chat
As Golic suggested on air and as Stein recognizes, you should have
to pay for a good idea. So, the Royals are preparing to send a contract
to Mike and Mike at their ESPN home in Bristol, Connecticut offering to
pay them – as Stein termed it in his Kentucky drawl – “a dollar a
holler.” In other words, Mike and Mike’s producers earned them the tidy
sum of $72 this year.
$72 is nothing to sneeze at, because no one wants to handle money with mucus on it. But in all seriousness, I really like the idea of a daily “fan mic half-inning.” It will result in a virtual mountain of comedic moments, intentional and otherwise, and I’m hoping that the highlights of this experiment wind up on YouTube.
Along similar lines, I would like to suggest a recurring between-inning skit in which a front office member dresses up as Wendy Williams and dispenses relationship advice to the fans.
In other news…
— The Wall St. Journal ran an item today on the Peoria Chiefs’ new fantasy baseball initiative (the club is renting out O’Brien Field suites for the purpose of conducting fantasy drafts). Word on the street is that an unnamed influential Minor League “biz”-ness blogger helped facilitate the club’s national exposure…
— The Tacoma Rainiers have announced extensive renovation plans for Cheney Stadium. This will be the facility’s first major uplift in over fifty years, and will cost an estimated $30 million. The targeted completion date is Opening Day 2011.
— But when it comes to stadium improvements, it will be tough to top the Albuquerque Isotopes latest additions:
— February 27th was “National Pig Day”, and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs celebrated by putting single-game tickets on sale. Despite the poor weather, the Lehigh Valley faithful flocked to the event, with the first person in line arriving at 4 a.m.(!)
This was far better than my personal National Pig Day celebration, which consisted of eating bacon alone in a diner while listening to the man in the booth across from me break off his wedding engagement via cell phone.
I hope everyone enjoys their weekend. Don’t forget that Saturday is National Frozen Food Day, and that Sunday marks 77 years of Monopoly.
Yesterday I was preoccupied with photos of a man wearing a unitard, and therefore neglected to write about two imminently blog-worthy topics. I will rectify this situation………………NOW!
First up are the Birmingham Barons, who yesterday announced their “Clark Griswold Decorating Contest”. The competition, inspired by the bumbling patriarch of the National Lampoon Vacation films, calls for fans to do the following:
Deck your house with bright lights, tacky Santa figurines and enter for a chance to win a Barons’ season ticket package in 2010.
The prizes, they are as follows:
First Place: Two 12-game season ticket package and the opportunity to
throw out the first pitch at the Barons annual Christmas in July
Second Place: Perfect-10 Plan.
Third Place: Box of Christmas lights.
It seems to me that awarding someone a box of Christmas lights is a bit redundant given the nature of the contest, similar to giving an eating champion a box of Ding Dongs for the ride home.
And speaking of Christmas lights and Ding-Dongs, here’s something that has nothing to do with either: Homer, mascot of the Peoria Chiefs, has turned down the Notre Dame coaching job. Read all about it HERE. Or, simply browse this excerpt:
“This is where I want to be,” Homer said Tuesday through his
spokesman Lucas Smith. “Notre Dame football is a dream job for some
people and it is humbling to be considered. But when it comes down to
it, this is where I want to be working for as long as they’ll have me.”
The rumors started a couple of weeks ago when Homer’s name
was linked in an online report as a possible successor to fired
football coach Charlie Weis. Despite having no prior football coaching
experience, certain Notre Dame boosters were pushing hard for Homer to
get the job and return Notre Dame football to its glory days. It is
unclear when Notre Dame officials first contacted Homer or if they made
an official offer.
An uninformed observer might think that this whole thing is a silly publicity stunt with no basis in reality, but as a Minor League expert I can tell you that this is an industry of unquestionable integrity. Press releases, like Shakira’s hips, tell no lies.
And if you think about it, Homer would make a good coach. He’d bark orders on the sidelines, chew out the refs, and play the trom”bone” at halftime, while always remaining fixated on getting to a bowl.
I apologize for nothing.
As most teams have yet to announce their promotional schedules, my 2009 spreadsheet is currently quite barren. In fact, it includes a mere 28 listings. But of these 28, four are scheduled to take place on the same day. That day is June 20, which is shaping up to be quite an action-packed day in the Minor Leagues. Let’s take a look at what lies in store thus far:
Bowling Green Hot Rods — Fan’s Choice T-Shirt Night
This design of this shirt will be selected by the fans, who will make their voices heard through the magic of online polling. I’m hoping that the shirt will commemorate an alternate reality in which the team’s name is “Cave Shrimp“.
Hudson Valley Renegades — Benchwarmer’s Night
I have already dedicated a post to this most entertaining of promotional nights. Inspired by the Knicks’ laughable Stephon Marbury situation, the Renegades will be paying tribute to benchwarmers all game long. The night even includes a wooden seat cushion giveaway.
In which the BlueClaws will welcome the WWE’s oldest wrestler, whose weapon of choice is a 2×4.
Peoria Chiefs — Lee Smith Appearance
Even more intimidating than “Hacksaw” is Lee Smith, the legendary 6’6″ closer who amassed 478 saves over 18 Major League seasons.
So there you have it folks…June 20 is still more than five months away, yet we are already assured of four above average promotions. Please get in touch if YOU are aware of anything going on in the Minor Leagues on June 20 (or any other day, for that matter):
And now, courtesy of Wikipedia, here are a few other somewhat notable events that have occurred on June 20:
451 — Flavius Aetius defeats Atilla the Hun at the battle of Chalons.
Hello, and Happy New Year. I hope that the just-concluded Holiday Season served as a much needed chance for rest and respite, because now we’re all right back in the thick of things. As if we never left.
But judging by the deserted state of the MiLB.com headquarters, it was rather unnecessary for me to come into work today. There are no other people here, or any other living things save for the occasional squirrel. But that’s okay with me. I thrive in solitude.
So, as 2009 commences, what is there to write about?. First off, I must dutifully piggyback off of my last post and mention that the Peoria Chiefs are the latest team to have been bitten by the Blogojevich bug. Last week, the club announced that they would be selling off “Senate Seats” for each 2009 home game. The details, italicized and in fine print for your pleasure:
they will auction off not one, but two special “Senate Seats” to each
home game for the upcoming 2009 season. Just as the United States
Senate Seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama is viewed as the
best opening in the Senate, the “Senate Seats” will be the two best
seats in the house for Chiefs games.
The seats, which are located in
the second row of section 108, are directly behind home plate and
protected by the screen sell for $10 per game. They will be available
via auction on the Chiefs website beginning Feb. 1. The auctions will
end 24 hours prior to each home game and begin at $20. All proceeds
from the “Senate Seat Auctions” will go into a pot which will be
distributed at the end the season among various local charities.
Moving on, I must commend my colleague Lisa Winston for using her finely-honed journalism skills to
decipher one of the more mysterious ballplayer utterances of all-time. On Dec. 19, Lisa ran an interview with Tigers prospect Casper Wells on her blog. In response to the question “What is the best Minor League promotion or visiting act you have ever seen?”, Wells replied that he liked “the monkey guy with the floating thing.”
No one could figure out what Wells was talking about, and it caused a many a sleepless night for those who care about such things. So Lisa dug a little deeper, and was able to solve the mystery. Read all about it here.
And, finally, because I must operate in threes — At 11 p.m. EST on January 14th I will be a guest on the weekly Minor League Baseball Radio Show. I’ll post more specific info on this in the near future, but mark your calendars now. It’s not like they were going to stay all new and shiny much longer anyway.
Throughout the week, this fine blog will run interviews with
representatives from the nominated teams, in an effort to shine some
light on their promotional strategies and philosophies.
Yesterday’s featured club was Eastern League nominee the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Today, we move into America’s heartland in order to highlight the Peoria Chiefs. All answers are courtesy of Chiefs broadcast and media manager Nathan Baliva. All questions are courtesy of me.
Prior to the season, had your team ever been nominated for a
MacPhail Award? If so, ever won it?
NB: We were the Midwest League recipients after the 2005 season, but to the
best of my knowledge we have never won the MILB award.
How would you define your team’s promotional philosophy?
NB: “Your Home for Summer Memories!” is our organizational slogan, as
we try to give
our fans something to remember each and every time they enter
O’Brien Field. Each year we try to expand and build upon the traditions we have
established in the past while also starting new ones that our fans will
What were some of your biggest promotional successes from
NB: We played a regular season game at Wrigley Field in Chicago
in front of a MWL record crowd of 32,103 fans while also garnering national
attention. Our free hot dogs and peanuts nights on Wednesday increased our
average attendance on Wednesday nights more than 1300 from last season. We also
brought in local and national celebrities such as Hall of
Famer Bruce Sutter, Illinois
basketball coach Bruce Weber, Bradley soccer coach Jim DeRose, Jason Earles
from Hannah Montana, Illinois State
basketball coach Tim Jankovich and former Illinois
basketball player and ordained minister Roger Powell. We also drew over 6,000
fans on average for our 12 fireworks shows, which each featured a Pitch-In for
Charity. Our Jimmy Buffett Night was a sell-out yet again this season with a
post-game concert by Coco Loco and the Chiefs players/coaches all wore Hawaiian
jerseys that were auctioned for charity after the game.
Any misfires, mishaps, or ideas that just didn’t work?
NB: We had a Classic Car Cruise scheduled that was a first time
event for us that failed to take off the way we anticipated. The logistics were
tough and hopefully will we have them corrected for the next try.
What are your favorite sports promotions of all time?
NB: The White Sox Disco Demolition comes to mind. The St. Paul
Saints with a Bud
Selig tie giveaway after the MLB All-Star game tied in 2003.
And Jay Buhner look alike night in Seattle
where fans could shave their heads.
In a perfect world, what sort of promotions would you like
to stage in 2009 and beyond?
NB: We have a few tricks up our sleeves for 2009 and in a
perfect world they would lead to 70 sellouts for us here in Central