Results tagged ‘ Stockton Ports ’

Undead? More like “Fundead”

Halloween is just one week away, so today’s post on the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ August 30th “Zombie Survival Night” works on two fronts: In addition to being the latest in my seemingly never-ending series of posts detailing 2012 promotions, it is also seasonally apropos!

Family-friendly entertainment at the ol’ ballyard, that’s what this was:

Details on this internal-organs-consuming promotion were provided by Scrappers marketing and promotions intern Annie Stoltenberg, who has since returned to school at Texas A&M.

“Anyone dressed as a Zombie got in free,” wrote Stoltenberg. “It was also our ‘Buck Night’ with $1 tickets, $1 hotdogs and $1 12oz beer and drinks!”

That’s her on the right, zombie appearance obtained via the following method: “They applied a latex mask and then makeup, fake blood, painted our teeth, and had us gargle with fake blood to alter our appearance.  We tore and ripped our own clothes.”

GD Effects – Special Effects Makeup provided staff and fans alike with a look that just screamed “zombie.”

More like “Die Orange”

Stoltenberg notes that “Zombie music” was played throughout the game on the concourse, but this could have been any number of things. The Zombies? White Zombie? The Cranberries’ “Zombie”? I would have used the occasion to blast this:

But anyway…Prior to the game, the team staged a “Pregame Zombie Crawl, led by the Last Ride Hearse.”

Between-inning games included zombies chasing the pony hoppers, a brain eating contest (featuring gummy brains), a zombie obstacle course, and zombie movie trivia.”Winners of said games were awarded “Zombie Survival Kits” featuring staples such as matches, flares, water bottles and batteries.

And, finally, “Zombie Survival Tips” from the movie Zombieland were posted around the concourse.

That’s all I’ve got, zombie-wise, but let’s keep this post rolling right along. Have you ever wanted to hear the earnest rapping efforts of a top pitching prospect? Well, then check THIS out. “This,” in this case, is the track “Let It All Go” by D-Backs right-hander Trevor Bauer.

Oh! And how about this? Let it be known that Mitt Romney fully endorses the Stockton Ports’ efforts to have fans sit on his face:

The letter is addressed to Ports director of marketing Jeremy Neisser, and reads in part: Your support is extremely encouraging, and while I maintain this busy travel schedule, it is nice to reflect on the generosity and thoughtfulness of individuals such as yourself.

If that isn’t worth raving about, then I don’t know what is. Take it away, Harrisburg Senators!

The End is Near

I just wrote a big two paragraph introduction that, upon further reflection, was little more than anxiety-ridden self-indulgence. Who needs that noise? Forget all that, and let’s get to the good stuff. We now join this blog post, already in progress.

So many things have happened! Are happening! Will happen! All the time! I don’t know where to begin, but I do know when.


Last month, I gave ample virtual ink to the Stockton Ports’ “Presidential Seat Cushion” giveaway.

As I wrote at the time:

One side of the cushion features presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, while the other is of Democratic incumbent Barack Obama. And the fans are being asked to sit on the face of the candidate that they do not support.

The promotion got a robust media response, and when the gates opened the fans were ready for some face sitting action. This elderly woman was handed her seat cushion by a banana:

On the other side of the age spectrum was this young fella, now traumatized for life due to prolonged exposure to presidential seat cushion caricature.

Meanwhile, this crew was all over the political spectrum.

Another notable June promotion, and one that I also featured prominently in Promo Preview, was the Frederick Keys’ “Six Months to the End of the World Night.” As the name would imply, it was an evening of apocalyptic proportions.

To the images!

Zombies abounded at the ballpark — as promotions manager Brandon Apter noted “We’re going to keep the emphasis on family fun, but that’s not very easy when there’s blood all over your face.”

“Take Me Out to the Ballbrain”

And how’s this for a deliciously morbid between-inning promotion? A “last meal” eating contest.

Apocalyptic imagery has been everywhere in recent weeks. If you haven’t seen this terrifying/hilarious video of a Tennessee Smokies tarp pull gone awry, then it’s well worth the short time it will take to rectify that.

122,000 views and counting for “Tarp-Nami” — and no one got hurt!

And then there was the storm that swept through Yakima on July 8, which wreaked havoc throughout the stadium. Boise Hawks broadcaster Mike Safford was a witness to the carnage, and sent along the following email:

Here is a look at Yakima’s BP cage after it took a wild ride down the street in last night’s thunderstorm…

It was found on Pacific Avenue in Yakima after the storm.

I’m not sure that anyone could have curtailed a calamitous event such as the above — not even Spiderman. Last I saw that guy, he was wandering around the visiting dugout during a Charlotte Knights game.

Photo: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer

Sit Down, Man

Toward the end of the season, several teams are staging “Bobblection” promotions in which fans get to choose either an Obama or Romney bobblehead. Supplies are limited, and the evening’s winner is he whose bobblehead supply runs out first. I’ll certainly be covering these exercises in American democracy as they occur, but in the meantime let’s take a look at even more absurd promotion being staged by the Stockton Ports on June 15th.

Yes, fans will have the chance to sit on the face of either Obama or Romney. These items are unique pieces of political pop culture ephemera and should be valued as such, but the premise is admittedly a little confusing. The thinking here is that you would want to sit on the face of the candidate you DON’T support. Hence, the #SitOnMitt hashtag under Obama and the #BunsOnObama tag beneath Romney.

The promotion inspired a spirited discussion on the team’s Facebook page, with many fans arguing that baseball and politics just don’t mix. But one Kevin Rager delivered the most cogent remark: “in all honestly both are butt munchers,” he wrote.

Partisan politics have always been a fact of American life, but recently the Birmingham Barons hearkened back to a much less divisive era. The annual Rickwood Classic was held on Wednesday afternoon (in which the team returns to its old Rickwood Field home), and this year’s theme was WWII-era baseball. Check out the beautiful posters created for the event, which drew a lot of fan interest when I first posted them on Twitter:


And, more and more often, teams are staging promotions to eras that NEVER existed. On June 8th, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals’ “What Could’ve Been Night” will imagine a reality in which the team went by the name of “Thunder Chickens.”

These t-shirts will be available for this day only:

And here are the chicken-scratch hats. One of these should be sent to Axl Rose so that he can update his wardrobe.

I am missing this promotion by one day (I’ll be visiting the Naturals on June 9), but I hope the team sets aside some Thunder Chickens gear for me. It will be a nice complement to my Bowling Green Cave Shrimp t-shirt.

Finally, you may remember my post about the Quad Cities River Bandits photo jerseys, which will feature a collage of cancer survivors.  Last week, the Gwinnett Braves announced that they would be doing a photo jersey promotion as well. Their take on it is that it will be a Fan Appreciation Day promo that features — who else? — the fans.

The deal:

G-Braves fans will have the opportunity to have an image of their face featured on the back of replica jerseys which will be given out to the first 2,000 fans on that night, courtesy of Coolray Heating and Cooling. The images will be embedded as half-inch squares creating a mosaic in the uniform number 12 on the back of the jersey.

Another unique aspect is that fans will not know if they have been selected to be featured on the jersey. Fans will have to “like” the G-Braves post of the Fan Appreciation Night story to be considered to be featured on the giveaway. Approximately 390 faces will be featured, but fans will have to come to the game in order to see if they have won!

Great stuff, right? I’m always writing about great stuff. It’s what I do.

Wearing Your Guitar On Your Sleeve, and Other Innovations

I’ve got a healthy-sized stash of odds and ends Florida road trip content, and I’ll get to it as soon as I possibly can. But today’s post will be a good ol’ fashioned bouillabaisse (a word that I can no longer spell on the first attempt) featuring a mere fraction of the Minor League happenings that are fit to “print”. I can only do so much.

Let’s start with the Stockton Ports, who last season found success with their Rolling Stones theme jerseys. This year’s honoree was Johnny Cash, and the team wore — what else? — black jerseys.

Rickey Henderson, in town as an Oakland A’s roving instructor, was into it:

James Garner and his Cash tribute band provided the entertainment, and according to Ports director of marketing Jeremy Neisser they were “unbelievably amazing.”

Jerseys were auctioned off after the game, right off of the backs of those who wore them:

And, finally, what would such a promotion be without themed head shots?

It would be nothing, I tell you. Absolutely nothing.

Meanwhile, in Rochester, there’s a whole lot of something going on. The Red Wings have proclaimed that May is Baseball Month at Frontier Field, and for good reason: 27 games will be played there this month! (Including a sold-out Andy Pettitte rehab start that was moved to Frontier Field from its originally scheduled location of Batavia’s Dwyer Stadium.)

Explains the team:

The Red Wings in 2012 are sharing Frontier Field with the Empire State Yankees while their home of PNC Field in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre undergoes a season-long renovation. A total of 109 games will be played at Frontier Field in 2012.

“The only thing better than baseball is more baseball,” said Red Wings President/CEO Naomi Silver. “This unique season, and month, is one we’ll be taking about for years to come. Everyone will want to say they were a part of it.”

To encourage as many people to take part as possible, the team is incentivizing attendance throughout the month of May (despite spell-check informing me that “incentivizing” is not a word).

Fans attending one game a week during Baseball Month in Rochester will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win the grand prize of a one-year lease on a 2012 Toyota Camry.

Other prizes include lunch with Red Wings coaching staff, spending an inning in the broadcast booth, a team-signed jersey, and much more.

Let’s end with a picture of food! The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are serving “Chicken Bog Balls” at the ballpark this year, which really should be endorsed by legendary poultry consumer Wade Boggs.

Read all about Bog Balls here, and tell ’em Ben’s Biz sent ya. Assuming, that is, that someone asks.

An Anomalous Date Leads to Phenomenal Deals

Maybe it’s an example of my sticktuitiveness, maybe an example of stagnancy. Probably both. But, at any rate, I am able to begin today’s Leap Year post by looking at what I wrote about 2/29 the last time it rolled around.

So let’s leap to it!

San Jose's got the spirit!

The year was 2008. While most Americans were busy listening to the 10th anniversary edition of the Baha Men’s epochal Doong Spank LP, the Lancaster JetHawks made their presence felt by staging a Leap Year promo. Most notably, all fans with a leap year birthday received a box seat season ticket!

Not to be outdone, the Altoona Curve soon announced a season-long “Leip Year” celebration, all in honor of skipper Tim Leiper.

Leiper the Skipper

This one had the Rainmain-like fixation on numbers that is a hallmark of any good Minor League promotion, including the provision that if any Curve player was batting .366 after April 29’s ballgame, he (or she, you never know) would be awarded $366.

Maybe I’m just jaded, but I don’t think we’ve reached that level of inspiration in 2012. But a lot is going on. Here is a thorough (but by no means authoritative) rundown of who’s doing what how. Said rundown is in alphabetical order, but starting with “N” and then continuing back around through “M.”

Portland Sea Dogs

Most notably, the above deal includes a $29 Citgo gas card.

Trenton Thunder

$17 all-you-can-eat seats, to any game. I’m just not sure who would want to eat seats in the first place, though.

Stockton Ports

More bang for the buck than a bringing an exploding dollar bill along on a deer hunt! $29 gets four tickets to exhibition game vs. Triple-A Sacramento, four ticket vouchers to opening weekend, and two souvenir caps.

Fort MyersMiracle

Interesting twist to this one, in that the $29 ticket packages includes admission to all games falling on the 29th of the month.

Hagerstown Suns

This offer comes with a $29 concession stand credit. Beet eggs included?

Hudson Valley Renegades

Two extra games included with the purchase of a five or 10-game pack!

Huntsville Stars

A $95 savings!

Inland Empire 66ers

Buy a six or 12-game ticket pack, get an additional game free.

Lake Elsinore Storm



It’s A Wrap

In the past I’ve mentioned my desire to focus on the future, but at present I’d like to focus on the past.

All of this is to say is that my various season retrospectives (“look-backs,” as we call ’em in the biz), have culminated with this: the naming of the Dallas Braden Bobblebelly as 2011’s best promotion.

Art Imitates Life: the Dallas Braden Bobblebelly juxtaposed with the moment that inspired it.

I’ve written about the Bobblebelly plenty already, from this blog post all the way through the article linked to above, and I have no desire to rehash that which has already been hashed. But what I want to elaborate on is just how the Ports’ obtained this honor, as it was certainly no accident. “Promotion of the Year” is determined through fan voting, and from the start the Ports prepared their fan base to be active in this regard. Images of the bobblebelly were first made available through Facebook and Twitter, and on the evening of the promotion itself a #promooftheyear Twitter hashtag was unveiled on the videoboard. From there onward, the bobblebelly was promoted aggressively through social media as the year’s best.

Art imitates life imitates art: Braden posing with fans on the day of the promotion

In other words, the Ports wanted this from the start. The driving force behind the campaign was director of marketing Jeremy Neisser, who came to Stockton from the Arkansas Travelers. The Travs were runner-up’s in last year’s Promo of the Year voting, with their pre-game “Jose Canseco vs. Local Sexagenarian” boxing match losing to the Birmingham Baron’s annual “Rickwood Classic.” Clearly, Neisser wanted to avoid such a fate this time around.

The lesson here is that, like with anything in else in life, “if you want it, it’s yours for the taking.” And this season, the Ports simply wanted it the most.

And to that I say this: “Thanks for caring!”

"I'd love to have my own bobblebelly one day," says one Ports player to another.

The final thing I’d like to mention about the 2011 Promo of the Year voting was that five of the 10 promotions nominated in the “Giveaway of the Year” category (including the Braden Bobblebelly) were created by NYC-based Coyote Promotions.

That could be a coincidence, but it seems to me that when teams venture into uncharted bobble-waters they are more apt to go with Coyote. And such items, owing in no small part to their originality, are more apt to be nominated for post-season accolades. Agree? Disagree?

And speaking of post-season accolades, this blog is done with ’em. Congrats once again to the Ports’ for emerging victorious, and thanks to everyone who took the time to vote.

Now what?

Happenings in the 209, 301, and 419

My latest (and therefore greatest) Minor League road trip begins tomorrow — cue the anxiety attack! It goes without saying, then, that the blog will be dominated by “on-location” content for quite some time.  But not yet! Today, let’s take our customary look at noteworthy happenings from around the Minors.

We’ll start in Stockton, as the Ports’ held-their much anticipated “Dallas Braden Bobblebelly” giveaway on Saturday. As you’ll recall, the item features the A’s pitcher (and Stockton native) simultaneously expressing his hometown pride and exposing his abdomen.

Needless to say, Ports fans were psyched about this one-of-a-kind giveaway — especially since Braden himself was in attendance.  The line to get into the stadium started forming four hours before game time, quickly growing to epic proportions.

The man himself spent the evening signing the bobblebelly and schmoozing with the fans.

There are still seven weeks left in the season, but the Ports believe that their Bobblebelly giveaway should be’s “Promo of the Year”, and have even launched a #promooftheyear hashtag campaign on Twitter. I’m sure there are plenty of other teams who are going to have something to say about that…

But let’s save that sort of pontificating for later, and instead move across the country to Bowie, MD. The Baysox recently celebrated Festivus, an off-beat December holiday first popularized by an episode of Seinfeld. Communications manager Tom Sedlacek writes that Our Festivus celebration included Festivus poles, Feats of Stregth and the Airing of the Grievances, as well as posters describing the origin of the holiday and its role in pop culture.  The Feats of Strength included arm wrestling with an intern and sumo wrestling, and some Grievances were read over the stadium speakers during the game.

Feats of Strength

Grievances included “You still haven’t ordered my silverware!”  “Stop snoring so loudly.”  “You never hang out with me, you only play Xbox.”

I guess there was a lot of gray area when it came to what constitutes a grievance.

Finally, it’s time for me to feature something that has been sorely lacking on this blog in recent months: centenarians! Last Friday, 101-year-old Freda Sacket joined a local choir in singing the national anthem prior to the evening’s Toledo Mud Hens game.


Carolinas On My Mind

Before the 2011 season began, I solicited suggestions regarding where I should travel this season. And one answer that I heard time and time again (via blog comments, Twitter, Facebook, and email) was “the Carolinas.”

This area is, simply put, a hotbed of Minor League Baseball.

Fueled by this feedback, I cobbled together the best itinerary I could muster given the vagaries of schedule, budget, and time constraints. And that itinerary is this:

7/20: Charleston RiverDogs

7/21: Myrtle Beach Pelicans

7/22: Kinston Indians

7/23: Durham Bulls

7/24: Burlington Royals

7/25: Danville Braves (okay, not technically the “Carolinas”)

7/26: Winston-Salem Dash

As usual, I will be doing my absolute best to chronicle the experience through stories, blog posts, Flipcam interviews, photo galleries, and highly aestheticized daguerreotypes. And, as usual, I will do my best to ward off anxiety attacks through the power of positive thinking.

And now comes the part of the post in which I earnestly implore you to GET IN TOUCH! Recommendations and information related to the ballparks and surrounding areas are much appreciated, and while time is always limited I do my absolute best to follow up on all the information I receive. There is some flexibility in regard to what I can write about, and your local knowledge often leads to unique content I wouldn’t be able to provide on my own.


But before I get too wrapped up in the future, let me return to the past with some ODDS and ENDS from my recent Ohio-Indiana road trip. I am happy to report that I was able to squeeze in a visit to Toledo’s world-famous Tony Packo’s — Hungarian purveyors of hot dogs, chili, and pickles.

There’s no wait staff at this joint, you just walk in and give your order to the uber-efficient and boisterous folks behind the counter.

Seating area:

I ordered a hot dog with Packo’s famous chili, paprika dumplings, and a side of “Pickles and Peppers.” That turned out to be a bit redundant, considering the generous amount of pickles that came with the hot dog.

While eating, I contemplated the rows and rows of signed and laminated hot dog buns on display. A sampling:

The answer to the trivia question "What do Dudley Moore, Betty Thomas, Hal Linden, Martin Lawrence, Jeff Foxworthy, Sinbad, and Howie Mandel have in common?"

My next stop was Fort Wayne, and upon leaving that fine city I decided to pay a visit to the grave of Johnny Appleseed. But when I arrived at Johnny Appleseed Park, I found that it was a massive hiking, biking, and camping area comprising a very large amount of land. It was raining, no one was around, and no signs for the grave were in sight.

So I gave up on my mission, but the consolation prize was this photo of a road sign honoring former Fort Wayne mayor Harry Baals.

In summation: I tried to find Johnny Appleseed’s grave, but all I got was a photograph of this lousy street sign.

Sadly, the only other non-baseball excursion I was able to fit in came at the end of the trip. En route to Akron I stopped at Ravenna, OH, the town where I lived from birth through (nearly) age 2. When I got there, I was pleased to discover the town was in the midst of a classic car show and all-around civic celebration.

Upon returning to NYC’s comforting embrace, I took stock of my latest round of road trip swag.

Not Pictured: Akron Aeros shorts and t-shirt, Lake County Captains t-shirt. They needed to be washed.

Meanwhile, I just keep on getting things in the mail. Like this Bob Feller “Van Meter” bobblehead from the Iowa Cubs.

And the awesome Stockton Ports’ Jeremy Barfield “Rocket Arm” and Dallas Braden “Bobble Belly” combo.

For whatever reason, the Jeremy Barfield “Rocket Arm” has it in for the Dallas Braden “Bobble Belly.” As I looked on with horror, Barfield advanced on Braden and then fired a rocket shot right at his belly.

The moral of the story is don’t mess with Jeremy Barfield “Rocket Arm.” He will destroy you.

Stockton Honors Fire Flame Spitters and Pitcher Belly Itchers

The Spinners’ recent run of attention-getting stunts will surely get some “Promotion of the Year” consideration, as flossing world records and Human Home Runs aren’t the kind of thing you see every day.

Another team likely to be in the running at year’s end are the Stockton Ports, who have produced two of the year’s most creative giveaways: the Jeremy Barfield “Rocket Arm” and the Dallas Braden “Bobble Belly.”

The “Rocket Arm” is a literal-minded tribute to the extreme arm strength displayed by Barfield when he patrolled the outfield in Stockton last season. They will be distributed to the first 1000 fans in attendance at Friday’s game.

And just nine days later, the team is honoring Stockton native Dallas Braden with his own “Bobblebelly”.

This item pays tribute to Braden’s triumphant 2010 return to Stockton’s Banner Island Ballpark. The team held an on-field ceremony in honor of his Mother’s Day perfect game, during which Braden took the opportunity to display his area code tattoo.

Photo Credit: George Steckler/Stockton Ports

Needless to say, Dallas approves of his Bobblebelly:

And since we’re on the topic of unique giveaway items, I’ll close with a picture of what the Altoona Curve will be giving away tonight: team-logo tighty-whities!

But be careful — improper handling of a curve will result in skid marks.

Non-Stop Promo Power Pack

When I was in Lancaster earlier this month, JetHawks food and beverage director Adam Fillenworth told me that the team was on the cusp of debuting “the smallest hamburger in Minor League Baseball. Such an item would be a tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to the “extreme” concessions that have overtaken the Minor League landscape in recent years, a trend that the JetHawks themselves have participated in (see Burger, Stealth).

My reportage, always free from conjecture and hearsay, was once again accurate. For the team has now unveiled their miniature creation: “The Itty-Bitty Burger.”

The tiny hamburgers in deep fried buns are only available for a limited time. They can be upgraded to a “cheeseburger” (the addition of nacho cheese dipping sauce) and can be served with complimentary sides of ketchup, mustard and relish.

“It seemed like everyone was attempting to out-do each other this year by creating food that didn’t look appealing, so we thought we’d go in a different direction,” JetHawks Food and Beverage Director Adam Fillenworth said.

This development is analogous to the rise of punk rock, a no-frills genre formed in opposition to the over-produced pomposity of ’70s arena rock bands.

A particularly adept Me Decade arena-filler was Bad Company, whose hit “Feel Like Bacon Love” was certainly heard at Richmond’s The Diamond on Wednesday. As you’ll recall, the Flying Squirrels staged a “Tribute to Bacon” featuring an appearance by a local detective with the name of Kevin Bacon.

Detective Kevin Bacon, ceremonial tosser of first pitches

A similarly sizzling promotion occurred last week in Stockton, as the Ports held “Rolling Stones Night.”

A robust crowd of over 5500 fans took in the action on this raucous evening. Some images and explanations:

Air Guitar to "Jumpin' Jack Flash"

Mick Jagger Dance-Off on the Dugout (the contestants weren't able to fit into leather pants)

The "Mick Jagger Funny Face" promo

A.J. Griffin Delivers

Sticking with the Cal League north, let’s head over to Visalia to check out this year’s Helicopter Candy Drop. The name of the promo is truth in advertising: candy is dropped on to the field by a helicopter, and then the children in attendance go on a mad scramble.

Photo Credit: Chris Henstra

Photo Credit: Chris Henstra

But that’s not all that’s been going on in Visalia. The day before the Helicopter drop the Rawhide held a “Belle of the Ballpark Grandma Beauty Pageant.” Broadcasting director Donny Baarns writes that:

The contestants each demonstrated a talent during different half-innings; Doris, the eventual winner, led the crowd in a Rawhide cheer (“Next week I will be 96,” she said, “And I can’t believe I finally made the cheerleading team!”) Another played keyboard and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The contestants also participated in a “White T-Shirt Contest,” where each was given a basic white Rawhide t-shirt and allowed to decorate it creatively in their own style. The contestants came from local retirement homes, where preliminary rounds where held.


Photo Credit: Ken Weisenberger

And the winner:

96 Years Young! (photo: Ken Weisenberger)

I can’t think of a better image to end the blogging week. Thanks, as always, for reading. And more importantly, get in touch! It can be a difficult thing, this writing game, and your feedback and support is very much appreciated.