Promotions have become as much a part of minor league baseball as the action on the field, as teams continue to one-up each other by designing creative gimmicks and giveaways to enhance their family-friendly brand.
After each season, the braintrust behind these antics gather at the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar to share stories and ideas, discuss hits and misses, and celebrate the best in ballpark promotions. For the past ** years, the winners have been honored with a Golden Bobblehead—the minors’ very own version of Oscar—and this year’s winners were revealed last night at the Promo Seminar’s gala held at Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Triple-A Louisville Bats (International League). The awards are voted on by Promo Seminar attendees, with nominees selected throughout the season.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders were the big winners of the Promo Seminar, taking home The Best Overall Promotion award for their NBC’s The Office Wrap Party on May 4. The RailRiders turned an off night at brand new PNC Park into a celebration of all things Dunder Mifflin in advance of the hit show’s series finale. A day of events throughout town was capped at the ballpark, as cast members and thousands of fans turned out for an evening that included a baseball-style introduction of the show’s stars (which this enthusiastic fan was kind enough to record), a question-and-answer session with the cast, bloopers on the videoboard, and fireworks.
Clips of the event, which also won the Best Non-Gameday Event award at the Promo Seminar, were included in a retrospective before the series finale aired on NBC.
— Rob Crain (@RailRiderRob) May 5, 2013
The Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League) won the Best Theme Night category for their Military Hero Baseball Card Set giveaway. The team created a set of 32 cards featuring local military veterans from all five branches of the armed forces and whose service dates back to World War II. With the honorees and their family in attendance, the team passed out 1,000 card sets at an Aug. 8—with the military heroes signing autographs and participating in a pregame ceremony.
“This was the first year, but it will definitely be an annual event,” Spinners director of media relations Jon Boswell told the Lowell Sun after the game. “The military is such a big thing for us and we wanted to find a way to say thanks.”
The Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League) took home The Best Charity Promotion award for their Autism Awareness Photo Jersey Auction. Leading up to the event, fans had the opportunity to buy a small square inside players’ uniform numbers that would display a photo of their choice or one selected by the Quad Cities Autism Center. The team sold all 109 squares, and the proceeds from the event (including a postgame jersey auction) were donated to the Quad Cities Autism Center.
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, long one of the most creative teams in the minors, outdid themselves this year with their interactive urinal gaming system. The pee-controlled gaming system, which general manager Kurt Landes deemed the “Ex-Stream Games” earlier this season, took home the prize for Best In-Game Promotion. The IronPigs outfitted one urinal in each men’s room at Coca-Cola Park with a gaming system that allowed male fans to play hands-free games like alpine skiing and trivia.
“There are a lot of things in the course of 20 years that you do as a general manager or while you work in baseball that gets you excited,” Landes said. “You realize that you are in a unique job or role, but when you are selling urinal games to sponsors, that is one of the most unique things I’ve done.”