Creativity Continues To Abound In Minors
It’s no secret that promotions are half the fun of the minor leagues. From the standard fireworks and mascots to celebrity appearances and candy drops, front offices everywhere spend all offseason dreaming up ways to top themselves and their competitors and draw national attention.
This year, Baseball America decided to scan promotional schedules from around the country to find out which minor league teams came up with the best ideas. There are plenty of great ideas that didn’t make this list—there’s only so much space—but these are what struck our fancy and made us wish we could get out to different ballparks across the country.
From bobbleheads to pillows to tape measures to crazy jerseys, here’s what we’re most looking forward to this year.
Joseph P. Riley and the Technicolor Ballpark Night
Charleston • April 14
The RiverDogs, one of the minor leagues’ undisputed kings of creativity, are at it again. This time, Nate Kurant and his team are going for something a little more vibrant. As part of the celebration of all things colorful, each fan will be given a packet of colored powder to attempt to set a Guinness World Record during a seventh inning stretch that will combine LeBron James with Lucky Charms in the most awesome way possible.
Monty the Biscuit Pillow
Montgomery • April 18
Minor league promotional directors make no bones about the fact that part of their job involves copycatting. So after the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp hit it big last year with their Shrimp Neck Pillow, the Biscuits are putting out their own version. As far as food-based pillows go, however, there’s not much out there that could beat falling asleep on a warm, fluffy biscuit. Sweet dreams are made of this promotion.
Carlos Correa Starting Lineup Figurine
Fresno • May 12
Sam Hansen and his team have done it again. The geniuses who gave the world a boatload of Tacos’ merchandise and had mascots performing weddings have teamed up to hit Astros fans right in the childhood. People of a certain age remember when Starting Lineup figurines were a must-have, so the Grizzlies helped bring them back for one their most celebrated alumni.
Trea Turner Road Runner Bobblehead
Potomac • May 26
When it comes to insane bobbleheads, there are few teams out there that can even compete with Potomac. This year’s slate includes a Kentucky Derby-themed Stephen Strasburg, Victor Robles robbing a home run and Bryce Harper with “real” slicked-back hair to coincide with the team’s tribute to the movie “Grease.” Those are all excellent, but Trea Turner and his 80-grade speed as a roadrunner? That’s perfect. Just make sure to keep the bobblehead away from anvils.
Edgar Allan Poe Bobblestache
Richmond • May 30
As you might be able to tell from the list, Baseball America still loves bobbleheads. They’re classic, in-demand and oh so versatile. So when Richmond announced it was putting together a version for Edgar Allan Poe (who has a museum in his honor in the city), it was an easy choice for this list. Quoth the maven, “Give me more!”
Yoan Moncada Yo-Yo Night
Charlotte • June 6
Yoan Moncada on a Yo-Yo. Simple. Fun. Brilliant. That’s everything you could ask for from a minor league promotion.
Goat Yoga Bobblehead
Hartford • June 13
When Hartford announced it was naming its team the Yard Goats, plenty were skeptical. Others said the minor league naming craze had jumped the shark—someone should do a night with a team called the Shark Jumpers—but the crew in Connecticut has leaned in to its persona and last year took the nation by storm with goat yoga, which is exactly what it sounds like. Now the team is adding a bobblehead to the mix, and you can be sure they’re going to goat fast.
Aaron Judge Tape Measure
Charleston • June 13
En route to Baseball America’s Rookie of the Year award and a second-place finish in the AL MVP voting, Judge hit a lot of tape measure home runs. So instead of a judiciary-themed promotion honoring their famous alumnus, the RiverDogs slapped Judge’s face on a tape measure as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to one of the newest Baby Bombers.
Coming To Fresno
Fresno • June 21
The Grizzlies check in again on this list for their over-the-top ode to the 30th anniversary of the movie “Coming to America.” Not only will the team wear special themed jerseys to honor the Eddie Murphy comedy, but it will also change its name to the Zamunda Lions, and a concession stand will transform into McDowell’s, the definitely-not-McDonald’s restaurant from the movie. The Grizzlies get a gold medal for their take on the silver screen.
Zack Thompson Honored With Special Jersey Number
Darryl Kile's jersey number had not been worn by a Cardinals player since his death in 2002.
The Office Championship Ring in Jello
Altoona • June 28
For whatever reason, there are a ton of tributes to “The Office” popping up around the country this year. Charlotte will welcome actor Andy Buckley, who played Dunder-Mifflin bigwig David Wallace, to their park. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, naturally, will offer their take toward the end of the season. But the best we’ve seen will happen in Altoona when the team gives away a replica championship ring immersed in Jell-O as a nod to one of Jim’s classic pranks on Dwight. This promotion would definitely take home a Dundie or two.
Live From Kannapolis . . .
Kannapolis • July 7
After 40 years, a minor league team finally thought it was time to pay tribute to “Saturday Night Live.” The Intimidators will provide plenty of surprises throughout the night, but the centerpiece is the bobblehead of their manager, Justin Jirschele. His head will be plopped onto the body of Matt Foley, the motivational speaker brought to life by Chris Farley, for what is sure to be one of the most highly sought-after promotions of the season.
A Christmas Story Bobbletongue
Akron • July 14
While it’s probably a little much for this movie to play for all 24 hours on Christmas Day, it’s perfect for the RubberDucks’ take on Christmas in July. The team will celebrate with caroling, theme fireworks and a bobbletongue honoring one of the movie’s iconic scenes. Get there early, but don’t shoot your eye out while you wait.
Words With Fans Night
Jacksonville • July 15
After a smash hit in year one as the Jumbo Shrimp, general manager Harold Craw and his crew aren’t showing any signs of letting up. Their promo schedule this year is chock full of genius, but Words With Fans Night will surely be in the running for the best promotion of the year. That night, the team will wear special jerseys and caps, give away special Scrabble-tile coasters and will attempt to set a world record for most simultaneously played games of Scrabble. This promotion scores higher than “quixotic” played on two triple-word scores.
Bob Ross Weekend
Daytona • Aug. 12
Reigning BA Minor League Executive of the Year Ryan Keur helped invigorate Daytona last year, and the team is coming out hot in 2018, too. Bob Ross Night was a huge hit in 2017, so the Tortugas are bringing it back for a weekend. The festivities will include a bobblehead, a 5K color run, special jerseys, commemorative T-shirts and pre-game painting classes. All that should make for a happy little weekend in the Florida State League.