Minor league baseball promotions are, well, you can insert just about any adjective you like: creative, crazy, inspired, insane, amazeballs, mind-melting, etc. You can set your watch by the annual articles detailing the best upcoming promotions of the baseball season.
There have been lists of the greatest minor league promotions of all time. I won’t even attempt that. Instead, here is a sampler of five creative promos – just a mere taste of the all-you-can-eat marketing smorgasbord that occurs night after night in dozens of ballparks around the country.
Picking your favorite Mike Veeck promotion is like picking the best Beatles song: there are too many to choose from, and there is no wrong answer. The son of legendary owner Bill Veeck has carried on his father’s legacy with some of the most ground-breaking and daring stunts in all of sports.
As it were, “Silent Night” would surely be on Veeck’s greatest hits album. In a June 2003 game, the Charleston Riverdogs forbade talking and cheering for the first five innings. Fans duct-taped their mouths shut and held up signs to cheer, boo and hail the beer man. Librarians replaced ushers, and golf marshals lined the field holding “Quiet Please” signs. The most inspired touch? Sign language to introduce the players that night.
Salute to the “Romp-him”
One of the beautiful things about minor league teams is the velocity in which they jump on fads and current events. Just look at a recent example: the State College Spikes’ salute to the highly detestable “romp-him.” Not only did the team offer a 50% discount for anybody (male or female) wearing a romper, but they also sold a team-branded romp-him. Other highlights: a romper cam, a special spotlight on the romper Sean Connery wore in Goldfinger (I didn’t even know this was a thing) and a romper fashion show. And if you think nobody showed up wearing a romp-him, you would be wrong.
Sequin Glove Giveaway
You have to “hand” it to the Toledo Mud Hens, who in July 2014 held a ’80s and ’90s concert night – and let the first 1,500 fans groove along with their own sequin glove. That’s the minor league fan experience in a nutshell: often more Michael Jackson than Reggie Jackson.
Wizard of Oz Jerseys
Thanks to the advent of sublimation and ultimate creative license, minor league teams have gone bat-guano crazy for special one-night-only jerseys. Across the board, they are attention-getting eye sores, an apparel car wreck you have to stop to watch. (To be fair, the jerseys are always auctioned after the game for charity.) So if I have to pick just one, it would be the Jackson Generals’ Dorothy jerseys. Or maybe the Ferris Bueller tribute by the Midland Rockhounds. Or what about Jabba and Luke? Oh man, this homage to Nickelodeon’s Double Dare is incredible. And I can’t forget about asparagus and cheesesteaks ….
Toilet Seat Giveaways
Can a giveaway be too crazy or surreal? Challenge accepted. In 2007, the Hudson Valley Renegades gave away 3,000 inflatable toilet seat cushions. Yes, seat cushions that looked like actual toilet seats. There wasn’t any special theme night at work, just a plum sponsorship deal with M&O Sanitation (who likely sponsored the free plungers given away the previous year.) No smell sweeter than that of a made sale, amiright distributors?