Results tagged ‘ Quad Cities River Bandits ’

River Bandits Make A Permanent Impression

Thumbnail image for QCRBlogo.jpgThe Quad Cities River Bandits held their first-ever Tattoo Night promotion in 2008, in which they somehow convinced 28 fans to get team logo tattoos in exchange for ’09 berm season tickets.

A full write-up of that promotion can be found HERE. I found it truly remarkable that so many people got tattoos, and ended up choosing the promotion as one of the year’s 10 best.

But the River Bandits have shown themselves to be a team that does not rest on past successes. In 2009 they staged another “Tattoo Night”, and this time enticed 42 fans to go under the needle (an increase of 50% over the previous season).

According to my calculations, in which I added one number to another number, that makes 70 residents of the Quad Cities who now sport team logo tattoos. If the club continues to stage this promotion while enjoying an annual growth rate of 50%, then approximately 720 fans will receive tattoos in 2016. Within another decade, the number of fans desiring tattoos will exceed ballpark capacity.

Like humanity itself, this promotion is unsustainable from a long-term perspective. But I’ve learned that very few people care about long-term perspectives. What they do care about are pictures, and I’ve got a couple to share.

A tattoo of a criminally-minded nocturnal woods creature on one’s forearm symbolizes a cunning nature:

Quad Cities -- Tattoo Forearm.JPG   
 
An inter-locking “QC” simply denotes a love for the Quad Cities. Or perhaps Queen Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VII.

Quad Cities -- Tattoo in action.JPG
Those who got tattoos at this year’s promo, which took place last month, did not recieve ’10 berm season tickets. Rather, they will recieve free admission on a per-game basis, needing only to display their tattoo at the ticket window. Let’s hope that no one chose to get inked in any “objectionable” areas. That could result in some traumatized team employees, for sure.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

How Sweet It Is

QCRBlogo.jpg(Update: Now w/ Video! All you have to do is scroll down!)

What do you get when you combine 800 kids, 100 pounds of candy, and 100 pounds of marshmallows?

Until yesterday evening, the answer to this question existed solely in the realm of the theoretical. This is not surprising, because who would ever have the wherewithal to create a situation in which each of these three things existed in the same moment of space and time?

The Quad Cities River Bandits, that’s who.

Yesterday, the team staged the first-ever “Mega-Candy Drop”. This sounds like something out of a Japanese game show, but it instead took place on the pristine playing surface of Modern Woodmen Park.

The premise was simple. From the press release (or click HERE for the “Promo Preview” writeup):

The [Mega-Candy Drop] will open with a helicopter from Rotor View Helicopters, piloted by Jay Brent, making its way over Modern Woodmen Park to drop candy on the outfield so that it rains lolly pops and gummy bears! Then, once he is finished, all of the youngsters, who will be separated by age, will have a chance to run to a specific part of the field to grab as much candy as they possibly can. But the fun does not stop there. While the happy children gather their sweets, the helicopter will do another flyover to drop marshmallows from high above – making it rain puffy white goodness!

Thanks to my ability to send solicitous emails, I have obtained pictures from this historic event. I don’t think they do justice to what it must have been like to experience this first-hand, but they nonetheless provide a small window into a world that most of us have only dreamed of:

Quad Cities -- Candy Drop Group Shot.jpg

Quad Cities -- Cndy Drop Chop.jpg

Quad Cities -- Candy Drop Gathering 2.jpg

Quad Cities -- Candy Drop Gathering.jpg

Quad Cities -- Candy Drop Gettin Them Mallows.jpg

And now, let the evidence transform from photographic to visual. Here’s a whimsical look at the evening. soundtracked by the smooth vocal stylings of the inimitable Willy Wonka:

If anyone is aware of any other helicopter-assisted confection disbursement events going on in the Minor Leagues, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

California to Iowa to Maryland to Michigan to New Mexico

Sometimes, a recap of a Minor League promotion merits its own standalone post. That was certainly the case yesterday. But, sometimes, I must consolidate several disparate promo recaps into one cohesive whole.

That will certainly be the case today.

To begin, let’s stick with yesterday’s theme by taking a brief look at the cow-milking contest that was staged during the Visalia Rawhide’s “Ag(riculture) Day”. I don’t think that any further explanation is necessary.

visalia dairy day 1.JPG  

visalia dairy day 2 kyle greene.JPG
The above shots reminds me of my favorite Nicole Kidman movie — “The Udders.”

Last week, I dedicated a post to the West Virginia Power and their difficulty in obtaining a shipment of Barack Obama bobbleheads from US Customs. I have been assured that the Quad Cities River Bandits will not have the same problem with their politically-themed bobblehead.

On June 27, the club will be distributing bobbleheads featuring Secretary of State Hilary Clinton decked out in a River Bandits jersey:

river bandits clinton.JPG 

As it turns out, Hilary isn’t the only global superstar sporting River Bandits’ gear these days. Check out this screenshot from Lil Wayne’s “Every Girl” video:

riverbanditwayne.jpg

Lil Wayne would have fit right in with the Bowie Baysox and their “Sunglasses At Night” world record attempt that was held a few weeks back. Unfortunately, the Baysox fell short in their bid for nocturnal eyeshade immortality. Fortunately, those who participated in the stunt nonetheless seemed to enjoy the experience:

baysox -- sunglasses at night 1.JPG

Another recent promotion “of note” was the West Michigan Whitecaps’ “Pink Floyd Night.”

Whitecaps -- floyd, drawing.JPG

In the bottom of the 12th inning, Brandon Douglas scampered home with the winning run after Ben Guez struck out on a wild pitch. Celebrations ensued:

whitecaps -- floyd, walkoff.JPG

And the party extended well into the night, thanks to the Whitecaps’ post-game Pink Floyd Laser Light Show:

whitecaps -- floyd, laser show.JPG

In closing, I would like to make a note of the following information. From the Albuquerque Isotopes web page: 

Always a fan favorite, the second and final 50-Cent Hot Dog of the 2009
season was a huge success once again. In fact, it was record-breaking.
With a season-high 11,010 fans in the stands, 37,669 hot dogs were
consumed trumping the old record of 35,468 set back on June 11, 2003…That means that each fan averaged 3.4 hot dogs each.

Now, what I would like to know is this — Is the Isotopes’ new team record also the all-time record for all of Minor League Baseball? Let me know if you possess any info on this subject.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
 

Inside the Announcer’s Booth With Randy Wehofer

randy.JPGIf you’re not familiar with the name “Randy Wehofer”, then you will be soon. The aspiring thespian plays baseball announcer Jack Jeffries in the upcoming movie “Sugar”, and gives a startlingly realistic performance (for much more on “Sugar”, including a movie trailer, see today’s article in MiLB.com).

Wehofer’s dedication to his role was so extreme that he spent the last decade preparing for it. He logged nine seasons as the broadcaster for the Midwest League’s Burlington Bees before moving on to the Iowa Cubs prior to the 2008 campaign. In perhaps the greatest coup in Ben’s Biz Blog history, I was able to land an exclusive interview with Wehofer.

So, without further ado, a glimpse into the mind of one of Iowa’s most buzzed-about actors:

Ben’s Biz: You bring a method actor’s intensity to your role as play-by-play announcer Jack Jeffries. Did this make you difficult to deal with on the set? Any Christian Bale-style freakouts?

Randy Wehofer: Working in minor league baseball for 10 years, I’ve grown very accustomed to a specialized and pampered lifestyle and while on set, I demanded that things worked exactly like a real game. I was especially pleased when the guy who played the visiting manager changed his lineup five minutes before shooting the scene and didn’t tell anyone so we could scramble in the press box to figure out who was coming to the plate. When we shot the road scenes, they were sure to bring me a cold hot dog in the fourth inning when I couldn’t possibly have time to eat it or enjoy it. I really appreciated the way the crew went out of its way to keep me in my comfort zone.

BB: The pressures of fame and fortune can be hard to deal with. Now that you are a celebrity, what steps are you taking to insure that you keep a level head?

RW: I don’t want to make other people jealous, but since word has spread about the movie, I’ve noticed that my wife Joanie and I get better tables at restaurants and the other day I even got a card that says my 14th haircut is going to be FREE. I try to take all of this in stride, though, and remember how hard it must be for all of those guys that work in the big leagues, but haven’t been in a movie.

BB: Do you think players will be jealous of you this season, because fans will be asking you for autographs instead of them?

RW: I’m actually hoping that one of the veteran players might take me under his wing and teach me the ropes when it comes to signing autographs. I’ll need to know what kind of pens to use for glossy photos as opposed to baseballs and how to avoid cramping up on hot days. If all goes well, I’m hoping this experience could put me in the running for a future spot as a roving autograph instructor for a Major League organization.

BB: What will be the next step for you as an actor? Will you be accepting additional roles as a baseball broadcaster, or are you looking to go against type?

RW: In the future, I do want to show my range as an actor so I’m actively seeking roles as a public address announcer, the guy who takes your order in a drive thru, or do a guest spot in a kids show as the guy who reads the morning announcements in a school.  I don’t know if I’m ready for it yet, but someday I’d really love to play a baseball broadcaster in an animated feature. I think it would be awesome to be a cartoon.

BB: You are listed in the movie’s credits as “Randolph Wehofer”, as opposed to “Randy”. Is this a bid to be taken more seriously, comparable to when Mark Wahlberg stopped using the name “Marky Mark”?

RW: It was really a ploy to try to have my name take up as much room on the screen as possible during the credits.  When I was filling out the form to be in the movie, I actually listed my middle name and a phonetic pronunciation guide for my name as what I wanted included, but they edited it down to just my full first and last name.

oscar.jpg

BB: Early buzz is that you are a front-runner for a “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar in 2010. Have you started working on your acceptance speech?

RW: I hate to correct you on your own blog, Ben, but I’ve actually been told that my performance is so noteworthy that they’ve created a new category for “Best Athletic Supporting Actor” – and I’ve been told that I will be the only one nominated in that category, so I like my chances. I’d like to thank all the people that made this possible and hope everyone really likes “Sugar.”

(See Randy Wehofer in “Sugar”! The film opens in NYC and Los Angeles this Friday, and nationwide on April 24)

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Best of the Rest

rburrdey.jpgIt is deserted here at MiLB.com HQ, apparently because today is a holiday.

Presidents’ Day? Really? I had never heard of such a thing. If a holiday has not been commemorated with its own Peanuts special, then I refuse to observe it. So in lieu of spending the day in my pajamas in honor of Abraham Lincoln, I would like to return to that which I discussed on Friday — the River Bandits’ Name the Promotions Finalists.

After writing this post, I got in touch with River Bandits director of broadcasting and media relations Ben Chiswick, and asked if he could share some of the fan suggestions that didn’t make the cut. Chiswick’s response:

Here are some of the other goofy ones that didn’t quite make
it to the list of finalists:

 

One hungry fan suggested offering food specials at the
concession stand based on

dragon.jpg

that night’s opponent. For example, some sort of
honey drink when we play the Burlington Bees or Chinese food when the Dayton
Dragons are in town.

A Name the Smell contest.


– We got some interesting suggestions for giveaway items such
as diapers, commemorative sand bags or an iPod Touch.


– An exhibition game featuring a World Series rematch between
the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies. (Sounds like a good idea to
me!)

Most of these promotions are logistically impossible, but I still commend the fans who suggested them. After all, it is better to shoot for the stars and miss than it is to aim at the ground and hit it.

Or something like that.

In closing, I would like throw my (metaphorically) hefty weight behind the idea of opponent-inspired concession specials. I started to brainstorm some Midwest League possibilities, but they were embarrassingly unfunny. Please let me know if you come up with anything.

record.jpg

I know you’re out there, too. Last week established a new “Ben’s Biz Blog” record in the all-important “returning visitors” category, so thank you very much for your recurring patronage!

Finally…Please get in touch with stories and pictures related to Valentine’s Day in the Minor Leagues. I’d like to do a post on this within the next day or two. In fact, I WILL. So don’t be left out.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

A Most Unique Van-tage Point

qcriverbandits.gifEarlier today, I meandered into MiLB.com HQ, fired up my ossified work-issued laptop (yes, it is literally turning into bone), and began trolling through press releases.

Almost immediately, a news-worthy item caught my eye. It was something that led me to exclaim out loud “This will make a good blog post!”. I love it when that happens. Makes my job easier n’at.

That something was this: Bandits Name the Promotion Finalists.

If you’ll recall, last month the Quad Cities River Bandits announced their “Name theThumbnail image for tiki village.jpg Promotion” contest, in which fans were invited to submit their ideas for promotions that the club could stage at Modern Woodmen Park in 2009. A refresher course on said announcement is available here.

Well, yesterday the team announced their five finalists. Here they are, cut and pasted direct from the press release:

foley.jpg

Bandit Wedding – One lucky couple will have the wedding of a
lifetime and get married on the Modern Woodmen Park diamond immediately
before a River Bandits game!

Beverage Batter – If the River Bandits player selected pre-game
delivers a base hit during the contest, everybody in attendance
benefits from beverage discounts for the remainder of the inning!

Elvis Night – A full-blown promotional night dedicated to The King himself!

Rascal Kids Hat Giveaway – What more exciting of a giveaway item can we plan than a kids’ hat featuring the River Bandits lovable mascot Rascal?

Van Down by the River – A few lucky fans each night would have
the opportunity to take in a ballgame from a River Bandits van parked
on the right field berm!

To me, the choice is a no-brainer — Van Down By the River!

The first four promotions are all well and good, but let’s face it: they’ve all been done before, and they are all things that the River Bandits front office would have been more than capable of implementing on their own, without fan involvement.

But “Van Down By the River” is something else entirely, an absurd and totally unique way to watch a game in a stadium that already features plenty of unorthodox seating options. Plus, I believe that it would be the first seating area in Minor League Baseball to be inspired by a Saturday Night Live sketch. That fact alone could inspire many other River Bandits promotions, such as renaming themselves the “Schwing of the Quad Cities” for a day.

andy_capp.jpg

And, speaking for myself, I’ve often dreamed of watching Minor League Baseball from the back of a van. In this dream, the van is equipped with an endless supply of Andy Capp’s Hot Fries, and there is a sticker on the back which reads “If this van’s a rockin’, then it is probably because I am playing Black Sabbath at a very high volume.”

Have a great Valentine’s Day weekend, everybody. I’m going to celebrate by taping a rose to my favorite pinball machine.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com                                     

Week-End Wrap-Up

forest.jpgI have no idea what it stands for, but I keep hearing people around the office say “TGIF”. Can anyone help me out here? My best guess is “Trees Grow In Forests”, but I don’t know why such an obvious statement of fact would be condensed into an acronym and repeated ad nauseam.

Ah, the mysteries of life. Perhaps some things are best left unexplained. Anyways, because I am grateful to a higher power for the fact that it is Friday, I will now end my blogging week with a compilation of news and notes from the world of the Minor Leagues.

Here They Go Again — Those front office folks in Quad Cities are downright irrepressible. Fresh on the heels of the innovative “Pick The Improvement Contest“, the club has announced a new interactive fan initiative. This time it’s the “Name the Promotion” contest. From theqcrb.jpg press release:

“The River Bandits are excited to welcome a large number of wide-ranging
ideas and have set no restrictions to ensure that fans can let their
creative juices flow freely. Promotional ideas could cover a single
game through a theme night or giveaway, take place during a half-inning
break with a game or contest or unfold over the course of the entire
season. The promotion could revolve around the baseball being played on
the field or it could involve concessions or ticketing. The
possibilities are endless.

The first phase of the contest begins on Friday. Fans have the
opportunity to submit their suggestion for next season’s great
promotion online by the River Bandits’ website at http://www.RiverBandits.com.
The open suggestion phase of the contest will last until Jan. 30. After
Modern Woodmen Bank and the River Bandits narrow down the suggestions
to a list of finalists, the second phase of the contest will begin on
Feb. 2 and allow fans to vote on the best promotional ideas through
Feb. 13.”

This contest will undoubtedly result in a veritable boatload of promo ideas, running the gamut from brilliant to completely insane to both brilliant and completely insane. As has become my policy, I will refrain from making suggestions of my own.

Thumbnail image for Altoona_Curve.gifTransactions — Moving on, I learned yesterday via this press release that longtime Altoona Curve broadcaster and media relations director Jason Dambach will be leaving the team. In addition to writing a veritable boatload of amusing promotional press releases over the past decade, Dambach had also established himself as one of the best play-by-play announcers in the Minors (a fact that was illuminated by his recent Top 10 finish in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ announcer search). I first met Jason during my 2007 field trip to “Awful Night”, and I wish him well in his new job with the Greenberg Sports Group.

Jumping the Shark, Literally — The Fresno Grizzlies have unveiled the 14th and final episode of their weekly “I Hate the Offseason” web series. For my money, this was the funniest installment yet. Check it out right here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb153CIP0PI

“I Hate the Offseason” turned out to be a fun and relatively simple way for the Grizzlies to stay in the public eye upon the conclusion of the season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many teams embark upon similar projects at the conclusion of the ’09 campaign.

And, speaking of conclusions, this post is now done. In closing, email me at benjamin.hill@mlb.com if you happen to know what TGIF stands for. 

Bribes and Goodbyes

Thumbnail image for qcriverbandits.gifJust last week, I mentioned the fact that the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL were going to be staging “Blagojevich Night”. As part of this promotion, the team will take to the ice wearing prison uniforms, and an open seat between the player’s benches shall be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Upon mentioning this item, I lamented the fact that such an imminently promotion-worthy scandal had occurred in the baseball offseason. Because what’s the point of scandal if it can’t be capitalized on by a Minor League Baseball team?

Fortunately, the Quad Cities River Bandits have stepped in to fill the void. Yesterday, the clubbob evans.jpg publicly endorsed Director of Baseball Operations Bob Evans for Illinois’ still-vacant Senate seat. Whether they were moved to take this action as a result of my blog post is beside the point, because I’m just going to assume that they were. Why else would I have gotten into the blogging game anyway, if not to erroneously validate and promote my power and influence within the industry?

I’m sure not doing it for the money, as my paycheck currently comes in the form of concession stand vouchers and discontinued team merchandise.

Anyhow, forgive me these moments of self-indulgence. The 2008 blogging year is reaching its end, and I am finding it hard to say goodbye. So to return to the River Bandits, here are some samplings from yesterday’s press release:

bevans.jpg

The team is offering the Governor quite a bounty for the
vacant Senate seat, including four club season tickets – featuring private wait
staff delivering food and beverage orders directly to fans’ seats – as well as
two nights in a luxury suite at Modern Woodmen Park, and advertising for the
State of Illinois on the brand new LED ribbon board that will be installed this
spring.

“I feel honored that the River Bandits have selected me as
their choice for United States Senator and am confident that I will be a great
asset to the state government,” said Evans, 65, as he spoke from his Moline
home. “As an usher, greeter, concession stand worker, salesman and little
league coach, I’ve worked with Illinois
baseball fans for decades. I know what people want. Also, I’ve worked with a
lot of umpires here at Modern
Woodmen Park
and I know I make better calls than most of them.

So congratulations to the River Bandits for getting in on the action, and using the Blagojevich scandal to generate a little bit of Holiday time publicity. Now, it’s my turn to get in on the act, with the just-conceived “Ben’s Biz Blog-ojevich Promotion.”

The first person to bribe me with complimentary words about my blogging skill will, in return, get a free post on this here blog (600 word max). It can be about anything you want, provided it passes muster with both myself and MLBlogs’ draconian Standards and Practices department.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Well, that’s it for me, guys. I truly thank everyone who has made this blog a regular destination over the past year, and I look forward toward bigger and better things in ’09.


And, this holiday season, remember the things in life that are truly important:

Thumbnail image for Taco In A Helmet-thumb-450x587.jpg

The Art and Science of the Minor League Wish List

wish.jpgToday I must draw my readers’ attention to my Minoring in Business “cover” story, which features the Holiday Wish Lists of 20 (!) Minor League teams.

Folks, this is the kind of content you just can’t find anywhere else, so I hope you appreciate it. I could just as easily be getting paid to write literary essays on the cultural effects of 21st-century social isolation for Harper’s, you know. Lewis Lapham is constantly badgering me to do this.

But, no. The Minor Leagues are my calling, so I must answer the call. Therefore, revel in today’s article, which is chock-full of interesting Holiday requests. There is currently a poll on the MiLB.com homepage, asking fans to vote on their favorites. Your choices include three masterpieces of the Minor League Holiday Poetry genre (Huntsville, Toledo, Quad Cities), as well as a handwritten mascot letter (West Michigan) and a superb doctored photo (Tri-City ValleyCats).

Not included in the Top 5 poll, but still worth checking out, are humorous contributions fromsanty.jpg Reading, Williamsport, and Birmingham. Actually, it’s ALL worth checking out. Do not discriminate.

And I may as well get in on the act as well, and post a Holiday Wish List for this here blog. I refuse to address it to anyone in particular, but I nonetheless believe these things will happen as a result of positive karmic repercussion. I give, so that I may get. Here are the two things that I want:

— More readers! The numbers have been really strong lately, especially for the offseason, but there is still plenty of room for growth. I feel that the subject matter has appeal far beyond “the industry” and Minor League Baseball superfans. The culture and atmosphere of a Minor League Baseball stadium reflects the culture and atmosphere of the community in which it is located. Taken together, these community portraits represent and reflect American culture.

To summarize, and tone down the pretention a notch (sorry Lewis): Minor League Baseball IS America.

— More feedback! There has been a nice uptick in comments as of late, and I routinely receive emails from front office folks and fans alike. But…more please! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this blog is a two-way street. The content will only ever be as good as what I am provided with by my readers.

So get in touch, for any reason at all:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

An October of Terror in the Minor Leagues, 2008 Edition

countryterror.jpegBen’s Biz Blog moved into its second year of existence this past week. Practically speaking, this means that when I am bereft of blog-worthy material I can simply look back to what I was writing last year and repeat the process.   

And what I was writing about last year at this time was this: Haunted Houses in the Minor Leagues.

Sounds good to me! Here’s a look at two haunted houses that are currently being operated by Minor League ballclubs:

— In Bowie, the Baysox are running “Country Terror”. Given the relatively steep admission charge of $20, one can only assume that this 20-minute indoor adventure is of superb quality. In the Country Terror press release, general manager Brian Shallcross claims that “Country Terror” will “scare your Baysox off!”, which is certainly a claim that cannot be taken lightly. In a further display of the Baysox’s commitment to the Halloween cause, the club has also taken to calling their city of residence “Booooowie”.

But will the Baysox be able to top last year’s extravaganza? The club staged “Blackbeard’s Revenge: The Curse of the Severed Head” in 2007, and it sounded like a doozy:

“After coming face to face with the titular Severed
Head, attendees are invited to tour the Haunted Hospital and then get lost in
the Crazed Chain Maze.”
(source: this fine blog).

— Meanwhile, in Quad Cities, the re-vamped River Bandits are once again working to establish Modern Woodmen Park as a year-round entertainment destination. The theme of the club’sdude!.jpg annual “Field of Screams” spooktacular is “Shoeless Joe’s Revenge.” Seems like a press release quote is in order at this juncture:

“This year’s event is themed around Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was
alleged to have died in 1951. There are those that contend, however,
that he merely faked his own death to escape a life in which he was
known as the villain, returning to Davenport where he fondly recalled
his days of sneaking away from Chicago to enjoy Minor League Baseball
at Municipal Stadium. In a confrontation with an erstwhile young
reporter who caught on to the ruse, Jackson was murdered and buried in
what is now the corn field at Modern Woodmen Park. Every year around
the time of Jackson’s October 31 death, reports surface regarding
paranormal activity coming from the ballpark.”

sjj.jpgI consider myself to be an “erstwhile young reporter” (in fact, I am identified as such on my business card), so there’s no way I’m going anywhere near this one. Shoeless Joe would try to kill me — again! It’s a long story, and one I hope to explain in detail at some point in the near future.

In the meantime, any clubs who are running Haunted Houses of their own are invited to get in touch:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 541 other followers