Ross, known for his afro and his PBS instructional painting show “The Joy of Painting,” is a Daytona Beach native who died in 1995. He had cult hero status before his death for his sayings, such as “let’s give the tree a friend,” but that has only grown since.
At a think tank before this season began, discussion turned to bobbleheads as the team tried to figure out who its first-ever bobblehead giveaway would be.
The Tortugas, the Reds’ high Class A affiliate, switched their affiliation from the Cubs to the Reds in 2015. Lacking a true current or former major league star to call its own, Daytona steered away from the idea of a Ken Griffey Jr. or Barry Larkin bobblehead and returned to Bob Ross.
“We couldn’t really single in on that one individual we wanted to do a bobblehead for,” said Krenzer, the Tortugas director of ticket operations. “We didn’t really have anyone to hold to. This idea of Bob Ross was always in the back of our head. He’s from the area. I thought it was a no-brainer, but you never know.”
The idea was an immediate success. The first social post promoting the Bob Ross bobblehead, which features Ross wearing a Tortugas jersey and holding painting supplies, reached close to 10,000 people, director of community relations Kristen Alford said. She added that people around the country have called asking where they can get the bobblehead.
“Bob Ross Night” will take place Saturday at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Kenzer said he expects it to be one of the team’s three busiest games of the season.
In addition to the bobblehead giveaway for the first 1,000 fans, the day’s events include a “Bob Ross Happy Little 5K” and a pre-game painting class taught by instructors from Bob Ross Inc., who will wear wigs of Ross’ trademark afro.
“It’s really morphed into something bigger and bigger by the day,” Tortugas president Ryan Keur said. “We’re really excited to get to Saturday and we still have some surprises left that you’ll have be here to see.”
Alford is in her second season with the Tortugas and her seventh season in baseball. She said the only thing she can really compare to the way the promotion has taken off is when the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs announced their bacon logo while she was with the team.
“It’s really important to understand that a promotion for minor league baseball doesn’t relate to baseball at all,” Alford said. “You really have to dig into those things that have cult followings. Your ‘90s nostalgia, things like Bob Ross and TV shows like “Game of Thrones.” Things that people are really, really into. Things that people can relate to that can’t relate to baseball.”