Results tagged ‘ Reading Phillies ’
The Reading Phillies were one of the highlights of last year’s Pennsylvania-centric road trip, as I was able to witness (and participate in) the team’s extensive tribute to the iconic Crazy Hot Dog Vendor. I even got the opportunity to dress up as his “apprentice” and throw a few hot dogs into the crowd myself.
This year’s tribute to the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor took place on Sunday (July 10), and once again I was in attendance. Looking back on it, I’m not sure this was the best idea — I wasn’t on any particular assignment, just motivated to get out of New York City and see some Minor League Baseball. In all honesty, I’m half insane this time of year — either overwhelmed by Minor League Baseball or beating myself up because I’m not.
So off I went. And this time, I made sure to arrive in Reading in time to visit the town’s star attraction: The Pagoda.
This is a quirky place with a quirky history, but nonetheless a beloved area landmark. As all-knowing Wikipedia reports, The Pagoda was “completed in 1908 at a cost of $50,000, it was intended to be the hotel/restaurant centerpiece of a luxury resort. When plans for the rest of the resort were abandoned, the 7-story wooden building and 10 acres of land were donated to Reading as a public park in 1911.”
The main attraction are the views:
Inside the main entrance of the Pagoda is a small cafe and gift shop. For $1, one may trudge up all 87 steps to the top floor.
I would have liked to hang glide from the Pagoda to FirstEnergy Stadium, but that option is no longer available. It was nonetheless a painless 10 minute drive, and upon arriving I checked out the stadium’s refurbished exterior. As you may remember, the 60-year-old facility underwent a $10 million renovation this past offseason.
It was a full two hours before game time, and the place was already jumping. The Reading Phillies do a phenomenal job (better than any team I’ve ever seen) when it comes to making the ballpark a pre-game entertainment destination. Upon entering the “Vist Financial Plaza”, there is a carnival-esque concourse area packed with concessions, games, a bar, and performance stage.
But I made a beeline for the seating area behind home plate, as members of the team’s “Kid’s Club” (aka “Future Crazy Hot Dog Vendors) were participating in a Question and Answer session with theme jersey-wearing pitchers Austin Hyatt and and Derrick Loop.
Questions included “How do you know what time it is to hit?”, “After you hit someone, do you feel bad?”, and “Do you guys ever get to go to ‘real’ Phillies games?”
After Hyatt and Loop departed, out came the man himself:
It was around this time that I dropped my camera onto the concrete. It wasn’t a high drop or particularly hard landing, but nonetheless the screen froze and it was rendered unusable.
The lack of a camera, compounded by my general confusion over exactly what I was hoping to accomplish in Reading in the first place, led to a bit of an existential crisis. When a blogger breaks his camera, does he cease to exist?
The answer, in this case, was yes. After touring the ballpark, sans camera, with media relations director Tommy Viola I stuffed my credentials in my pocket and spent the remainder of the evening simply watching the ballgame. It was kind of nice, actually.
But this post shall continue, thanks to these photos from R-Phils team photographer Ralph Trout.
The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor’s legion of “future vendors” received free t-shirts, and later got to perform on the field.
See that suspiciously big-headed individual in the middle of the above shot? That’s the “life-size 550-lb Crazy Hot Dog Vendor replica,” awarded to one lucky (?) fan after the ballgame.
The aforementioned “VIST Financial Plaza” is highlighted by a performance stage. If you’re lucky, the mascot band will be playing.
Truly, the R-Phils know how to pack ‘em in.
Toward the end of the ballgame, I decided to see how my camera was doing. The good news was the screen was no longer frozen, but the bad news was that the batteries had drained. I snapped one quick photo before it shut off for good.
And that, as they say, was that.
I’ve written about literally thousands of promotions in my time here at MiLB.com, but it nonetheless took until yesterday until a team finally stepped up and staged this:
The team doing the saluting was the Harrisburg Senators, who had a very good reason for doing so. As the press release so helpfully explains:
This past week, the City of Harrisburg experienced a water main break that affected downtown Harrisburg and City Island. It took a couple of days for city workers and contractors to fix the problem, but fix it they did. After the problem was corrected, the New York based contractors were asked what caused the break. The answer, beavers.
That was all the motivation the Senators needed, and they soon announced a promotion honoring “all fans with a connection to beavers.” This sub-demographic includes the following:
The Senators are giving fans a free box seat if they can produce proof their last name is Beaver or they are from or currently live in Beaver, PA. But that’s not all, the Senators will also give a free ticket to anyone with the last name of Cleaver, in honor of the television show Leave it to Beaver. And if you’re named Theodore, Ward, June or Wally, you can purchase a box seat for just $5. Not to be left out, graduates of Beaver College can also purchase a box seat for just $5.
The Senators are planning special events on Monday including a Dam building competition, a Beaver Cleaver look-a-like contest and a “blind race” since beavers have a terrible sense of sight and depend on smell and sound.
Moving from beavers to quarter-ton garden gnomes, the Reading Phillies recently delivered a life-size and copiously bearded Ryan Howard to one Amy Vandehei of Rosemont, PA (the winner of an Opening Night drawing).
More photos and info can be found on Tommy Viola’s “Philling You In” blog, and this report from WFMZ-69 is well worth watching. The next 550-lb giveaway on the R-Phils schedule is Crazy Hot Dog Vendor on July 10.
Continuing on in the “unorthodox figurines” category — in the wake of last week’s “Ken Griffey Jr. Spirit Bobble-Arm” giveaway, the Inland Empire 66ers have hidden five “gold” versions throughout the surrounding community. More details to be released soon, but in the meantime here’s a gold KGJ doll doing whatever it is a gold KGJ doll does.
Meanwhile, non-gold real-life KGJ is currently back in the Cal League for a two-day stint, assisting High Desert Mavericks players as part of his full-time consultant gig with the Mariners. The Mavs’ opponent during this time are the aforementioned 66ers, who KGJ played with in their previous incarnation as the San Bernardino Spirit. Meanwhile, Ken Griffey Sr. currently serves as manager of the Cal League Bakersfield Blaze. Got all that? I hope so, because there’s no time for further explanation.
Finally, it looks like the Boston Pops w/ Kenny Loggins Minor League ballpark tour has some company this season. Yesterday the Big Apple Circus announced a brief mid-July itinerary, featuring the mind–bending quintet of Mongolian contortionists, the cavorting canine troupe of American trainer Jenny Vidbel, a phenomenal hand–balancing act by Bulgarian–born Andrey Mantchev, the awesome artistry of the Wuqiao Acrobats from China….and the Big Apple Circus’s very own star clown, Grandma!
The stops on this Minor League extravaganza include Syracuse (July 13), Rochester (July 15), Lake County (July 17) and indy league Lancaster, PA (July 19). The tour was put together by ESI Concerts, responsible for the aforementioned Boston Pops ballpark tour as well as the annual Principal Family Fun Fest.
Number one on my Minor League Ballpark tour wishlist is, of course, Weird Al Yankovic. Please don’t forget that June 21 is the “Al-Pocalypse”, and that it is therefore your duty to ignore all my pleas to schedule a Weird Al promotion on this date.
To begin today’s post, I’d like to share one of the greatest mascot photos of all time:
That sky-diving bull is Hornsby of the Tulsa Drillers. Jumping out of an airplane (why not?) was one of his last acts before undergoing a thorough overhaul. As part of an effort overseen by Mascot Doctor (and original Phillie Phanatic) Dave Raymond, the Drillers hired a full-time performer and and re-did the costume.
Meet Hornsby 2.0:
I think a good way to publicize the new Hornsby would be to make a video of him in a sushi restaurant eating soup, accompanied by the sounds of 2 Live Crew. The video would be called “Miso Hornsby.”
Never mind, sorry, strike that from the record. It’s just that if you can’t please everyone you’ve got to please yourself. And speaking of guardin’ parties, the 550-pound Ryan Howard Garden Gnome recently presided over the Reading Phillies humdinger of an Opening Night celebration.
A $10 million offseason renovation project always results in an extra-festive atmosphere!
But for many teams, the pomp and pageantry of Opening Day soon succumbs to cold, hard, reality. Emphasis on the cold. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are snowed out today, and yesterday evening West Michigan Whitecaps played a ballgame despite this being the scene earlier in the day:
But in the team’s own words: “If there’s snow on the field, play ball!”
Such frosty weather can be hazardous to mascots as well, as the Lake County Captains latest “Christmas Story”-themed giveaway dramatically illustrates. On July 23, one year after the “Skipper Leg Lamp“, the team is distributing this:
Yes, Skipper’s nose magnetically attaches itself to the foul pole.
That’s all for me today, but before I go let me note that there is a NEW PROMOTION PREVIEW column and that FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED! I want to be the Big Meech of Minor League Baseball writers, but instead feel like Hoover because all of my writing occurs in a vacuum.
I’m sure this has nothing to do with belabored, obscure, and obsessive compulsive wordplay.
I recently dedicated a post to the topic of using Minor League Baseball as a tool to teach sports marketing. This was inspired by the fact that high school teachers and college marketing professors regularly link to my blog, using the content therein to explain how the industry operates and why.
But my blog operates strictly in the digital realm. Offering a more hands-on experience are the Kane County Cougars, who last season began to offer a series of high school sports business seminars. Cougars director of public relations Shawn Touney writes:
[W]e provide a presentation at the ballpark and tangibly show them our operation and answer any questions they might have about how we market our product, career opportunities, and nearly everything in between. And obviously, it drives some revenue our way and taps into a demographic that goes unnoticed in many Minor League parks.
I never would have guessed the response we would get…What began as setting aside a single seminar session time for an April noon game became a series of three dates, with 2 seminars scheduled for each of those 3 dates, to accommodate the schools who were interested in attending. When it was said and done, we had just under 1,000 students representing nearly 30 high schools throughout Chicagoland. Marketing classes, business classes, entrepreneurship classes, accounting classes – it ran the gamut. I couldn’t believe how many teachers were appreciative that something such as this was offered, which tells me that a lot of teams (big league clubs included) have not considered this.
This year, we’re offering something similar for each of our 7 noon games in April/May, with a staff-led seminar and ballgame to follow at noon. We will surpass last year’s numbers in terms of total attendance, number of participating schools, and revenue generated. The geography of the schools amazes me – we have schools coming from a 75-minute driving radius for this. We will also be hosting some fall sports business seminars in late August/early September for fall semester classes, and actually have set aside a few college nights for sport management clubs and majors who are interested in learning more.
After the presentation, the students are given supplementary materials that guide them toward viewing the ballgame from a business perspective. A sample problem:
You are a new business owner who is looking to make a splash in the Chicagoland area, bringing new customers and revenue to your business. You’re at the game this afternoon, and observing how many different opportunities there are to market your product to an audience. Here are two examples you notice:
List any other marketing opportunities for your business that you see or hear during the game.
And in 2011, the program will expand even further. Writes Touney:
Reading your blog helped spawn an idea to make the event even more interactive, by having the schools, upon returning into the classroom, create a video presentation where they essentially come up with a between-innings promotion and explain not just how they’d market the promotion, but how they’d execute it as well. I don’t think we give high schoolers enough credit; their knowledge of popular trends, fads, insight on social media are just a few examples that come to mind.
Touney’s final point is one I agree with wholeheartedly — in addition to exposing the students to new concepts, the teams staging such seminars could benefit from the creative and culturally-relevant ideas offered by the students.
So how is else is doing/might do something of this nature? Let’s hear it!
Apologies that today’s post has been wonkier than Willie’s chocolate factory. To make up for it, here’s an artist’s rendering of the Reading Phillies’ highly-anticipated Carlos Ruiz “Chooching Owl” giveaway. Remember, this thing is actually going to say “Chooch.”
Oh, so it’s more you want, is it? Well, here’s footage of Charlie Sheen spoutin’ his bull to a Bull. Hornsby, the soon-to-be-revamped mascot of the Tulsa Drillers, really shows his range here.
As usual, I implore anyone to get in touch for any reason.
Fireworks displays are a tried and true Minor League Baseball entertainment staple and an absolutely crucial component of most promotional schedules. Nonetheless, I don’t write about them often because there quite simply isn’t much to say.
Still, I have to note the following: The Toledo Mud Hens will be staging 31 (!!!) fireworks shows this season — Starting May 6, the team will launch pyrotechnics after every weekend night game as well as a midweek display on June 22.
Can any team top this total? The runner-up, so far as I can tell, is the Reading Phillies with 29 shows.
Keeping with the topic of fireworks, the Kane County Cougars (employers of “Mr. Kaboom”) recently unveiled their Fireworks Theme Night Music for the entire 2011 season. In addition to generic entries such as “patriotic” and “popular”, the team will also be staging explosive tributes to Star Trek, Harry Potter, Wilco, Coldplay, and Star Wars. But my favorite fireworks theme night that I’ve come across hails all the way from Jupiter, as the Hammerheads will be cranking out the AC/DC on July 2. If any other teams have released such info then make sure to send it my way.
And speaking of fire, I’d like to note that stuntman Ted Batchelor will be taking his act to Myrtle Beach on April 9. As you’ll no doubt recall, Batchelor is the peerless individual who ran the bases while on fire in Savannah last season. I have it on good authority that Myrtle Beach won’t be the only ballpark in which he appears this season, but don’t want to steal the thunder from any teams who have yet to announce an imminent Batchelor appearance.
Myrtle Beach has a few other noteworthy promos on the schedule — notably the first-ever “Eastbound and Down” theme night as well as a “Salute to Rec Specs” celebration. Hopefully this image will make its way on to the scoreboard that evening:
2011 promotional schedules are being released at a rapid clip these days, with highlights aplenty.
A “Human Home Run” is exactly what you would think it is. Say the Spinners:
“When it comes to human cannonballs, David Smith is the best of the best,” said Spinners Vice President Jon Goode. “This is an idea we discussed years ago and he saved it for the Lowell Spinners. Five years in the making, this is going to be a night you will not want to miss.”
Human Cannonball-ing runs in the Smith family, as David Sr. currently holds the world record for “farthest cannonball flight” for his 185 ft. shot in 1998. Unless the Spinners move the fences WAY in, Jr’s home run flight at LeLacheur Park will far surpass this.
Regardless, I plan to cover this promotion with the same fervor I devote to human fireballs. Stay tuned.
In Other Promo News:
Yesterday the Reading Phillies announced the latter half of their “Top 20 2011 Promotions.“
The team is once again staging a “Tribute to the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor“, and this time one lucky fan will win a 550-pound life-size replica of the man himself. For those keeping track at home, this is the second 550-pound life-size replica giveaway that the R-Phils have announced. Will there be more to come?
– The Lancaster JetHawks have announced a “Stadium Dust Globe” giveaway, in honor of their oft-stormy ballpark weather conditions. I hail them for their creativity, snow doubt this’ll rain supreme in 2011′s giveaway pantheon.
– And speaking of Stormy, the anemometer-ically correct Omaha Storm Chasers mascot is now the star of a new video series. Find out why it’s not easy being green.
Finally, TWO teams have recently asked fans to submit potential 2011 theme songs — the Huntsville Stars and Durham Bulls. I am always happy to feature franchise-specific tunes on this blog. Send ‘em on over, please.
One of the 2010′s most memorable Minor League giveaway items was the Reading Phillies’ Ryan Howard Garden Gnome.
This bearded base-stander garnered a lot of attention, not all of it positive, but it was a bona fide hit with the fanbase. And when something’s a hit, a sequel usually results.
“Ryan Howard Garden Gnome — Version #2,” will be given away as part of the R-Phils’ big Opening Night ceremonies on April 14. Here’s a glimpse:
will receive a free entry form, and one lucky fan will take home this one-of-a kind Life-Size Ryan Howard Garden Gnome estimated to be 550 pounds!
Pictures of this quarter-ton woodlands slugger are not yet available, but I promise that Ben’s Biz Blog will have them as soon as they are available. My livelihood depends on being able to make such promises.
It’s mightily hard to follow news of a 550-pound gnome giveaway, but something’s got to. Staying within the confines of the Keystone State, the Altoona Curve have finally bequeathed a name upon their new engineer mascot:
This chiseled tracksman will henceforth be known as “Tenacious Casey” (aka Tenacious C), making him the first mascot with a name influenced by a comedic rock and roll duo. The Curve do not acknowledge Jack Black specifically, however. Sez the team:
The name pairs the adjective, tenacious, used to describe someone who ispersistent in maintaining, adhering to or seeking something valued or desired, with Casey. Casey pays homage to Casey Jones, who was legendarily one of the most tenacious engineers in American railroad history.
Either way, it seems that a “Family Guy” cameo is in Mr. C’s future: