There’s no better way to strum up support in New England than take a shot at the Yankeesâ€”a marketing method that has proven golden for short-season Lowell and has it back in the national spotlight.
Two years ago the Spinners introduced the “Yankees Elimination Program” in which the club offered to provide equipment to any Lowell-area youth baseball team that changed its name from Yankees to something relevant to the Sox affiliate. The promotion proved so popular that they extended it to all of Massachusetts and bought roughly $40,000 worth of equipment for 70 teams.
Yesterday, the Spinners’ latest anti-Yankee promotionâ€”termed “The Slap Heard Around The World”â€”was picked up by wire services and made headlines in newspapers across the country. It certainly brought smiles to faces across Red Sox Nation.
In yet another way to celebrate Boston’s 2004 ALCS victory over the Yankees, the Spinners bought the first base used in Game Six played at Yankees Stadium. Why you ask? Well of course to poke fun at Alex Rodriguez (a favorite pastime of Red Sox fans), who tried to chop the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in the eighth inning of that game.
The Spinners’ bought the base from a sports auction house for an undisclosed sumâ€”Lowell general manager Tim Bawmann said the price tag hovered around the five-figures markâ€”and will use it in games this season. In fact, the Spinners plan to have a ceremony prior to each game in which they show highlights from the 2004 ALCS, culminating with the chop, and then have a groundskeeper bring the base out to the infield and place it in the dirt.
“We wanted to have a little fun with it,” Bawmann said. “Minor league baseball is fun. It is all about people coming out to the ballpark and having a smile on their face when they leave. You have to be a little bit different and this adds to the list of the things we have done.”
Bawmann is an Iowa native who grew up immersed in the Cardinals-Cubs rivalryâ€”which he described as a friendly one where you root against each other then go out for a beer. Since taking over as Lowell’s GM in 2004, he’s discovered the Sox-Yankees rivalry isn’t quite as friendly.
“I never knew anything about Red Sox Nation until I moved here,” Bawmann said. “It’s a little more intense. Unless you’re from New England you just don’t really understand it.”
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