Results tagged ‘ promotions ’

Hey Hey My My the 2013 Season Will Never Die

On Tuesday night the Omaha Storm Chasers emerged triumphant in the Triple-A Championship Game and the Idaho Falls Chukars won the Pioneer League title. And that, folks is all she wrote. There are no more Minor League Baseball games until April 3, 2014 and April 3, 2014 is a somewhat imposing 197 days away.

It is now the offseason, then, but with one exception: this blog! This post, like the last one and like the next one and like the one after that, will be devoted to material that I wasn’t able to get to during the season due to my peripatetic lifestyle. It’ll be random, but it will be educational, and it will be fun. I insist.

Let’s start with a community-minded initiative that, in my opinion, every team should do a variation of. On June 8 the Tri-City ValleyCats staged “Show on the Road,” in which they brought the Minor League Baseball game day experience to a local youth field. The ValleyCats, in partnership with Hannaford supermarkets, picked a league that “exemplifies sportsmanship” and that league turned out to be the not-so-pithily named East Greenbush-Castleton Youth Baseball League.

Per the team’s ‘Cats Corner blog, the event “featured pregame entertainment, live team introductions, a live performance of the national anthem, and in-game promotions including fan favorites such as the Mayors’ Race, T-Shirt Tosses, Pony Hops and more.”

A few pics from that post:

dsc_0092

Ceremonial introductions

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T-Shirt Toss

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dsc_0286

A triumvirate of racing mayors

And so it went. I’m going to momentarily assume that I have any sort of influence in this industry and once again insist that all teams do this in 2014 and beyond.

And now for something completely random: this article (and video), which my Mom brought to my attention, profiles veteran Ocean City (New Jersey)  PR man Mark Soifer. Soifer’s irreverent, absurd and always family-friendly promotional philosophies should resonate with anyone who works within Minor League Baseball.  For example: He once staged a wet t-shirt contest, in which participants competed to see who could throw a wet t-shirt the farthest.

Moving on, here’s a Tweet that is both self-explanatory and awesome.

Finally, back in June I received an email from David Perahia of BobblesGalore. It read, in part: 

I thought this may be a bobble that your readers would get a kick out of. We just came out with this item, only 90 were produced and each one is serial numbered.

It is the first bobblehead ever produced with 5 Mascots on one base, it is also the first bobblehead produced of the Washington Nationals new racing president – William Howard Taft.

0024-Washington-Nationals-Racing-Presidents-5-My-Pic

 

Five presidential mascots, one bobblehead base. Some of the greatest achievements in human history are taking place right before our eyes, and we should never forget that.

benjamin.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:

50s1

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.

50s2

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

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

Siptomatic of a Larger Issue

When it comes to political gaffes, Marco Rubio’s nationally televised cotton-mouthed lunge for a water bottle ranks as a pretty minor one.

And now, of course, it has become Minor. This past Thursday, the Fort Myers Miracle announced that they will be staging a “Marco Rubio Water Bottle Giveaway” at a to-be-determined point during the 2013 season.

Marco Rubio

AP

The details:

Fans entering Hammond Stadium will receive a water bottle while being encouraged to gather in the shady parts of the ballpark to stay cool when the heat is on and prevent perspiration. The Miracle will help recreate Rubio’s thirst-quenching moment on national television by setting up a booth where fans can put on a sports jacket, stand in front of a set and down some high-quality H2O.

Those picking up tickets at the will call window should be prepared for unlicked ticket envelopes because our parched Capital Bank ticket office employees will be saving saliva. Fans will need to salvage water water wisely with special deals on high-sodium concession items such as chips, popcorn and peanuts.

In an effort to keep the field saturated, the Hammond Stadium groundscrew will participate in a mid-game rain dance because even the Earth needs a drink on a hot day. Fans can expect to make a big splash with a stadium-wide game of Marco Polo.

Of course, the Miracle will extend an invitation to Senator Rubio to throw out the first pitch, provided he uses the rosin bag beforehand and is thoroughly hydrated.

Funny stuff — I especially like the unlicked ticket envelopes — and par for the course for the satirical savants within the Miracle front office.

But this brings up the old debate: to what end? Much like myself at the junior prom, this promo is conspicuously lacking a date. But even if it is scheduled in April it will most likely seem outdated and irrelevant by the time that it actually occurs.  Barring a visit from Rubio himself, the number of fans who purchase tickets as a direct result of the Miracle’s pop culture riffing will be negligible. It’s possible that the team won’t have much of an incentive to execute the promo at all due to a lack of interest from the fans.

But maybe that’s not the point? Simply by announcing the promo (and taking the time to brainstorm some clever components thereof), the Miracle have ample elicited media coverage/Twitter mentions/blog pontifications and perhaps the cumulative effect of this is a greater brand awareness that does in fact lead to more ticket sales. Or is that wishful thinking? What it the best way to quantify such endeavors, to determine if they are worth doing?

Or, hell, maybe I’m thinking too much (per usual). Maybe the best reason for the Miracle (or any team) to do promotions such as these is simply because they can. Unless you’re on the writing staff of a late night talk show, Minor League Baseball is perhaps the only industry where antics such as the above can legitimately be called part of one’s work day. And THAT might be what makes it worth doing, in and of itself.

Talking to myself, unless you want to talk to me:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Livin’ the Dream

It wasn’t motivated by anything in particular, but over the past few days I’ve created a compendium of Minor League front office cliches on Twitter. If you’re interested in seeing them simply search Twitter for the #MinorLeagueFrontOffice cliche hashtag. And, of course, feel free to submit your own as I will be compiling these cliches in an upcoming blog post. (If you don’t use Twitter, feel free to leave your Minor League Front Office Cliche in the comments or send me an email.)

Such a cliche compilation is both the literal and figurative definition of the term “inside baseball,” and I apologize to readers who I am leaving in the cold. But, in conjunction with this apology, I’d like to direct you to an interesting new initiative that can give anyone a chance to see these cliches come to life in an up-close-and-personal fashion.

This season, the Hickory Crawdads are offering a “Day in the Minors” fan package.

dayinminors

From the team:

[T]he ‘Dads Day in the Minors program offers a behind the scenes experience like none other, giving YOU the chance to see what it’s like to work for a minor league baseball team for a day. For just $99, you will receive experience in all areas of the organization, including promotions, sales, concessions and media!

Of course, there’s no such thing as a “typical” day in the Minors, but the Crawdads are offering the following as a “sample” schedule:

9am - Staff meeting 
10am - Work with the promotions team to prepare for the game 
11am - Go on a mascot appearance and wear the suit if you want the total experience 
12pm - Work with the Group Sales department 
1pm - Work with the Stadium Operations team to make sure the stadium has been properly cleaned from last night’s game and is stocked and ready to go for tonight’s game 
2pm - Check in concessions deliveries and set up for a picnic 
3pm - Assist the groundskeeper with field preparation 
4pm - Batting Practice 
5pm - Make sure the Press Box is all set up 
6pm - Open the gates, greet fans, take tickets and hand out giveaway items 
7pm - Go over the ground rules and exchange the lineup card with the visiting manager during the managers meeting at home plate with the umpires 
7:15pm – 10pm - During the game you will receive experience in most of the following areas: Ticket Office, concessions, promotions, customer service & the Press Box 
10pm - Break down and clean up 
Midnight - Go home as an official Day in the Minors survivor!

Plus, if you are truly lucky, it will rain during the day and you’ll have the opportunity to pull tarp!

This could be you.

This could be you.

While $99 is far more than most people spend on MiLB-related endeavors, I do believe that this is a worthwhile expenditure that could be enjoyed by people of all ages. In particular, a “Day in the Minors”-style program could be a great way to expose high school and college-age fans to the realities of working in the sports industry so that they could then make a better informed decision as to whether this would be a career they’d like to pursue.

Teams could also waive the fee and make this part of their community outreach efforts. In recent years Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner has emphasized the need for teams to diversify both their staffs and fan base in response to changing demographics, and offering a full immersion into front office culture would be a unique way to engage portions of the community that currently aren’t aware of or interested in the local Minor League product on offer.

But I’m just riffing here…As far as I know the Crawdads are currently the only team offering such a program, and it will be interesting to see if they are successful with it. Your thoughts? Would you pay $99 for this comprehensive Class A experience? Or, if you work for a team, is “Day in the Minors” the sort of initiative that you’d consider making available to your fan base?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Real Talk Regarding the Make-Believe

This past Friday sure turned out to be a doozy in the world of Minor League promotions. The independent Florence Freedom got most of the attention with the announcement of their “Manti Te’o Girlfriend” bobblehead (the box is empty, see?), but they were soon joined on the affiliated front by the Brooklyn Cyclones.

On June 21, the team will be staging “Fictitious Friday.”

fic

Below, please find a bite-sized portion of the Cyclones press release:

Anyone who purchases one ticket at regular price will be allowed to bring their make believe significant-other to the ballpark free of charge. Fans will also have the chance to draw a picture of their girlfriend, because obviously something came up and she couldn’t make it, so that their friends can finally see what she looks like. As a special treat, MCU Park will host a unique petting zoo for those in attendance, featuring a unicorn, a mermaid, and a Minotaur. The Cyclones are also in discussions with the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot to throw out a ceremonial first pitch that evening. In keeping with the tradition of Coney Island amusements, the Cyclones will put a spin on a traditional carnival game, as fans that are able to toss a ping-pong ball into a fish bowl will receive a catfish. Lastly, all of the player headshots used on the video board will just be random people whose photos we find on the Internet.

Eager, as always, to get the facts behind the fiction, I contacted the Brooklyn Cyclones for more info on this most imaginative of promotions. GM Steve Cohen was quick to provide answers to my queries:

Letting make-believe girlfriends in for free is a very generous gesture. How much do tickets for make-believe girlfriends usually cost?

Steve Cohen: It depends on if they take up a seat or not. To keep up with the ruse, you might need an empty seat next to you in case you run into somebody you know. This way if they ask where your girlfriend went, you can tell them “Oh, you just missed her. She just went to grab something to eat, but she was sitting right here.” We have always supported make believe girlfriends – haven’t you seen our staff?

How are your negotiations with the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot progressing? 

Steve Cohen: Not good. The market for make-believe creatures is currently at an all-time high. Their agents see this as a golden opportunity to cash in and they are asking an enormous amount as an appearance fee. Plus they are making odd demands like every picture we take of them needs to be out of focus and from at least 100 yards away.

A most demanding celebrity guest

A most demanding celebrity guest

How many catfish do you expect to give away on this special evening? 

Steve Cohen: We had a couple wash into our office during Super Storm Sandy, so we already have a pretty decent supply to start off with.

If this promotion is a success, will other make-believe promotions follow? 

Steve Cohen: You bet — the make-believe ones are a lot less expensive than the real ones!

And would you believe that yet another team has jumped into the fray? I bet you would! In the wake of the Cyclones’ “Fictitious Friday,” the San Jose Giants announced that April 12 would be “Lennay Kekua Night.” Per the team:

Items such as catfish will be featured on the Turkey Mike’s BBQ menu and fans who purchase a game ticket can bring their imaginary or real significant other to the game for free. A meet and greet will also take place prior to the game for all couples to introduce their significant others to their parents, to avoid any confusion about the existence of a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Two free future game tickets will be given to all fans who dress like Manti Te’o and to all Stanford University students because they may know or be Te’o’s girlfriend. During the game, promotions will include individuals and their imaginary significant others competing to win great prizes.

For the record, I am no stranger to on-field solo competition:

Oh, and “speaking” of the Lake County Captains: on Friday they announced the first Lance Armstrong-themed promotion in Minor League Baseball (my guess is that, risky topic or not, other teams will follow suit). I went ahead and wrote an MiLB.com news piece on it, yet another specious example of how I am using whatever talents I have to the best of my abilities. Here’s the graphic that ran with the piece:

lancecap

And that’s about all I have to report on regarding this particular news “cycle.”

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

In it for the Long Haul

Approximately two and a half months have passed since the advent of superstorm Sandy, and the areas most affected by this meteorological calamity are still in the beginning stages of what has been and will continue to be a long and arduous clean-up process.

With the long view in mind, I wanted to dedicate (the bulk of) today’s post to informing you of/reminding you about a forward-thinking Lakewood BlueClaws initiative: Restore the Shore.

restore

“Restore the Shore” is a multi-faceted and long-running program, which the BlueClaws are running in conjunction with several local businesses. It all starts with the purchase of a “Restore the Shore” t-shirt, which can be obtained HERE.

shirt

Per the team:

How It Works
- Companies, or individuals, order t-shirts online here and register by emailing restore@blueclaws.com or returning this registration form.

- Each Friday until Memorial Day, staff members (or families) wear the t-shirts and each person makes a donation every Friday.

- Donations are made through PayPal at BlueClaws.com/Restore orAtlanticPTCenter.com.

Businesses that participate will be honored in a ceremony at a 2013 BlueClaws game.

And then there’s this all-important question: Where does the money go?

More from the team:

The BlueClaws and Atlantic Physical Therapy Center are committed to supporting families impacted by Hurricane Sandy. In early 2013, those impacted will be able to fill out an application and donations will be made to as many families as possible.

The BlueClaws staff has been wearing their Restore the Shore shirts each and every Friday since the initiative started (I even spotted them doing so at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville), and since then the movement has spread to other Minor League markets as well. Behold, the Lexington Legends.

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Minor League Baseball charities has donated $10,000 to the program, thus far the largest single contribution received.

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Kudos to the BlueClaws for taking the lead in such a long-running and impactful charitable initiative. I’ll continue to publicize and provide updates on these efforts as we move closer to Opening Day.

In (far) less notable news, remember last week when I gave some publicity to the retro baseball-card inspired staff bios of the State College Spikes?

Well, as a reward for my positive PR the team sent along my very own retro baseball card. I am honored.

87toppstemplate-hill (2)

The above pic was a self-portrait taken during one of my “On the Road” stadium visits last season. The first person to identify in the comments where I was in that picture shall receive a random assortment of Minor League swag that I have lying in a box under my desk.

Good luck, and for (far) more 1987 Topps content click HERE to check out last year’s multi-part series on players included in that set who have gone on to Minor League coaching careers. It won me a Pulitzer.

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

Better Ladle than Never: Dishing on a Souper Night in Orem

As mentioned last week, one of the tasks in which I am currently engaged is the compilation of 2012 Promo of the Year MiLBY nominees. There will be many to choose from, but only one will join Billy Donovan Night (Fort Myers, 2007), Mascot Showdown (Fresno, 2008), Cave Shrimp ‘What Could’ve Been Night” (Bowling Green, 2009), the Rickwood Classic (Birmingham Barons, 2010) and Dallas Braden bobblebelly (Stockton Ports, 2011) in the “Promo of the Year” pantheon.

As to which promo will emerge triumphant in 2012, your guess remains as good (or better) than mine. But one thing I do know is that the Orem Owlz “No Soup for You Night,” which took place on July 21, will be among the nominees. On this special evening in north-central Utah, cult sitcom celebrity Larry “the Soup Nazi” Thomas visited the home of the Owlz in order to throw out a first pitch, spend an inning on the radio, sign team-logo ladles for fans, and, of course, serve soup to those he deemed deserving. If you’re asking the question, “But why?” then I envy your blissfully unaware state regarding the world of Minor League Baseball promotions. For the answer to this question, always, is “Why not?” Justification is never needed.

Owlz general manager  Brett Crane sent over some pictures from this Seinfeldian endeavor, which he called “the best promotion that we have done in the 12-year history of our franchise.” Now seems as good a time as any to put an end to the tyranny of the written word in this post; let’s get to the pictures! Here’s the man of the hour:

Oodles of Oremites got to the ballpark early, to insure themselves the acquisition of a complimentary soup ladle.

Before interacting with the masses, Mr. Thomas delivered a first pitch into the outstretched mitt of an unknown recipient.

From there on in, the evening was a blur of signing and serving. Whoever brought this to the ballpark was really thinking ahead:

Mr. Thomas signed plenty of ladles as well.


Prior to coming to the ballpark, Thomas had served up some soup at an Orem eatery that, not coincidentally, is one of the Owlz’ sponsors.

Ladle in the evening, he did the same thing at the ballpark.

One individual who was rejected for improper ordering techniques was mascot Hootz. Maybe Thomas would have been more sympathetic had he known that Hootz’s wife is pregnant?

In any case, this promotion was clearly a success for the Owlz and it will be interesting to see if Thomas becomes a recurring figure on the ballpark appearance circuit. If you’re wondering why I chose to dedicate an entire post to this promo, please know that it has nothing to do with the following item I received via post last month.

Ben’s Biz Blog: Insusceptible to bribery since 2007.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Space N’ Vaders at the Ballpark

“Star Wars Night” promotions, an idea first conceived by the West Michigan Whitecaps, have become an annual staple throughout the industry. I’m not a fan of the films (blasphemy, I know) but there is absolutely no disputing the fact that “Star Wars Night” results in a high level of fan engagement which, in turn, leads to some fantastic ballpark visuals.

For proof of all this, let’s take a look at the Toledo Mud Hens (semi) recent “May the Fourth Be With You” extravaganza.

The team advertised festivities such as the following, bullet-pointed for your pleasure:

  • LED Light Stick Giveaway (first 2,000 fans)
  • Appearances by Star Wars characters, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Storm Troopers, and more
  • Star Wars costume contest (with prizes!) and on-field parade
  • Chewbacca to throw out ceremonial first pitch
  • Star Wars-themed food and beverage items
  • Star Wars sound effects and music throughout the game
  • Kazoo Giveaway (first 5,000 fans) to be used in a Star Wars ‘kazoo-along’ prior to postgame fireworks
  • Star Wars-themed “May the Fourth Be With You” postgame fireworks

And, indeed, such festivities did occur. Here are some gems from the team’s Facebook page:

Hey, Yoda, turn around and look at the camera!

There you go:

If the above six pictures were worth approximately 6000 words, then this video recap should be good for about 35k more (I did the math). Chewbacca toes the slab!

Finally, the team asked fans to provide a caption for this first-pitch photo (as the video above amply illustrates, Chewy fired a strike).

The results were decidedly mixed, as they often are with this kind of thing (one fan simply wrote: “I was in the elevator with him!”) I think my favorite was “The San Diego Chicken has really let himself go.”

Before I shuffle off of this mortal coil (that’s slang for “end a blog post”), I’ll share a video of (relatively) recent vintage.

This one, produced for Richmond’s “Flying Squirrels Insider” show, is great. Broadcaster Jon Laaser instructs Giants catching prospect Tommy Joseph on how not to build upper body strength and being unready at the plate.

“You gotta get noodly with the legs!”

And since we’re kinda-sorta on the topic of “amateur attempts to do the job of a professional,” here’s an audio link to my inning on the air with Brice Zimmerman of the Fort Myers Miracle. I’m actually kind of proud of it, because if you’re going to fail you may as well do so spectacularly.

Listen HERE, and, please, let me know if you have any advice on how I could do a better job next time.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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