It’s well documented that minor league baseball is the undisputed king of game day promotions, with many a team pushing the limits of good taste to put asses in the seats. Here are 12 of the craziest minor league baseball promotions that go way beyond anything you’ll ever see in “The Show.”
12. Dunedin Blue Jays hold “Office Space Night”
In 2009 the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays hosted “Office Space Night” in honor of the 1999 cult classic of the same name. Fans participated in a “flair” contest (15 piece minimum), movie trivia, and, as a bit of therapeutic anger release, were given the opportunity to smash a printer into a thousand pieces, just like the three main characters did in the now iconic scene from the film (although I highly doubt the Blue Jays had the Geto Boys Still pumping through the stadium loudspeakers at any point). And even though tickets for the game were a measly $6, fans could still have scored a discount by mentioning Milton’s cherished red Swingline stapler.
11. Kalamazoo Growlers planning “Salute to Selfie Night” complete with horrible jerseys
File this one under “bad ideas that should never become reality,” because the Northwoods League Growlers are allowing fans to submit their selfies to be used in a special mosaic jersey the team will wear in the July 24, 2014 game against Wisconsin.
From the team’s official website…
The team will collect selfies through April 1. Once the submission period ends, the Growlers will build a unique mosaic-style jersey assembled entirely from the selfies entered in the promotion. The fan that exhibits the most “Growlers spirit” will receive a featured and prominent location on all jerseys. The jerseys will be worn during the game on Thursday, July 24 when the Growlers take on the Wisconsin Woodchucks.
And if you think those jerseys will be nothing short of horrible, guess what, you’re absolutely right…
10. Brooklyn Cyclones hold “Bellies and Baseball: A Salute to Pregnancy”
I guess 2009 was the year for wacky promotions, as the Cyclones, a Short-Season A Mets affiliate no less, held a night dedicated to all the wonderful things that go along with pregnancy, minus the fun that is conception. Here are just a few of the events the team offered at its July 19, 2009 game, some of which seem too ridiculous to be true, except that they were…
Barefoot & Pregnant: Expectant moms can run (or, more likely, walk) the bases with no shoes on before the game
Craving Station: A table on the Concourse level will offer pickles, ice cream, anchovy pizza, etc. for pregnant women who crave more than the usual ballpark fare
7th Inning Stretch Marks: Pregnant women will be allowed onto the field in the 7th inning to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Lamaze on the Lawn: The Cyclones will offer a Pre-game Lamaze class on the grass in centerfield
Special Delivery: Any woman who gives birth at the ballpark before the end of the game gets free Cyclones Season Tickets for life for each member of her new family
Naming Rights: Any expectant mother who agrees to name her child “Brooklyn” or “Cy” gets free Season Tickets for life
Pregnancy Pitch: Any woman in her third trimester gets to throw out a ceremonial first pitch before the game
Far as anyone can tell, none of the expectant mothers gave birth at the ballpark, which, in retrospect, is probably for the best. Not that the miracle of birth isn’t glorious and life affirming, because it is, but trust me when I say that watching a baby come squirting out a birth canal is probably the worst thing to see when scarfing down a hot dog and beer at the ballpark.
9. Lake Elsinore Storm dished out bobblecouches on “Tom Cruise Night”
Hard to believe it’s been nearly nine years since Tom Cruise acted like the world’s biggest crazy person on the Oprah Winfrey Show, jumping all over Oprah’s couch, professing his undying love for Katie Holmes, while simultaneously killing his career via his bizarre antics. The following year the Lake Elsinore Storm, Class-A affiliates of the Padres, held “Tom Cruise Night,” because that’s what minor league teams do when a huge star like Cruise goes off the rails. And while bobblehead giveaways are pretty standard fare in the world of baseball promotions, the Storm get all the bonus points for giving the first 1,500 fans through the turnstiles a Tom Cruise bobblecouch, because nothing says baseball like a figurine depicting one of the greatest train wrecks in celluloid history.
(Photo via eBay)
8. Indians affiliate once gave away free liposuction to one lucky female fan
In 2009 the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the New York-Penn league were involved in one of the more tasteless game day promotions in the modern baseball era, as the club paired with Valley Surgical Arts to give away a free liposuction treatment to one female fan in attendance at the July 8th “Ladies Night Celebration” game against the Auburn Doubledays. Fans preregistered for the promotion, and five finalists were called down to the field where the grand prize winner was announced in front of the entire crowd, because if you’re desperate enough to try and win free liposuction from a baseball team you probably deserve to be humiliated in front of a ballpark full of strangers.
7. Hagerstown Suns combine baseball and death in odd giveaway
Way back in 2003 Hagerstown, a Nationals affiliate in the South Atlantic League, offered up one of the most unique contests in sports history, when it gave away a free funeral worth approximately $5,500 to fan John Davidson of Fayetteville, Pa., after his essay, whereby contestants were asked to plan their own funeral, was deemed the best of the bunch. The contest was the brainchild of then Suns GM Kurt Landes, and if you think the funeral giveaway seems familiar you’re right, as the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs held the same promotion just last year. The fact that Landes is now the GM of the IronPigs probably had something to do with that.
6. Fort Myers Miracle hold “George Costanza Night” with minimal shrinkage
The Miracle, a Single-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, held “George Costanza Night” during the 2003 season, basing the game’s events on the classic “The Opposite” episode from the fifth season of Seinfeld. In case you don’t recall, perennial loser Costanza spends the entire episode doing the opposite of what he would normally do, and by the end of the show ends up with a gorgeous girlfriend and a front office job with the Yankees. On game night everything was backwards (or the opposite) of what normally took place at a Miracle game—fans were paid to park their cars, the scoreboard started in the 9th inning and counted down to the 1st, Fort Myers wore their road uniforms despite being the home team, the men’s and women’s bathrooms were switched, and after the game players asked fans for their autographs. As far as game day promotions go, this is by far one of the most clever, even if anything Seinfeld related is usually a guaranteed success.
5. West Michigan Whitecaps try $1000 money drop with disastrous results
Everyone likes free money, so the Class-A Whitecaps decided to drop $1000 in cold hard cash from a helicopter to waiting fans on the Fifth Third Ballpark’s outfield grass following a game in 2006. As rare as it is for money to be given away for a baseball game day promotion, the real story is the chaos that took place once the money was dropped. In the mad scramble for free loot two 7-year-old kids were injured during the melee, with one being taken to the hospital after being mercilessly trampled. Needless to say any future money drop plans have since been scrapped.
(Photo via USA Today)
4. Richmond Flying Squirrels offer up the tastiest, most star studded promotion ever
It’s a well known fact that only communists, snooty vegans and people with serious mental deficiencies don’t like bacon, so it was of little surprise when, in 2011, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Double-A affiliates of San Francisco, held a “Tribute to Bacon” night, to celebrate those luscious strips of sizzled gold. Fans were given the chance to win a year’s worth of bacon, coupons for their next bacon purchase, and to top it off, an appearance by none other than Kevin Bacon. Of course, being that this is minor league baseball and all, it wasn’t the Kevin Bacon, ageless Hollywood superstar, but rather Kevin Bacon, detective with the Chesterfield County police department and all around good guy. I’m sure the fans in attendance weren’t too upset with being duped, because if there’s one thing that science has taught us, it’s that bacon is both a physical and psychological cure for everything outside of obesity and heart disease.
3. Frontier League team used to have a concession item called “The Beast”
The Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League pride themselves on their stadium food offerings. In 2009, after losing the highly prestigious CNBC Minor League Concession Item of the Year award (which apparently is an actual thing) by the West Michigan Whitecaps Fifth Third Burger, the Grizzlies tried to reclaim the honor for the 2010 season by rolling out “The Beast,” a concession item that was borderline unholy. The burger was comprised of 15 black angus burgers stacked on top of each other with a skewer the middle to hold it all together, with each one of the 15 burgers covered with bacon and pepper jack cheese, all for the low, low price of $120. And if the exorbitant price wasn’t enough to turn your stomach, the 8,550 calories and 690 grams of fat sure would (although the team suggested the burger be eaten by a group instead of one person, I’m sure there were individuals who took on “The Beast all by themselves, because ‘Murica). Sadly it doesn’t look as if this gastronomic nightmare is still available for public consumption, at least according to the club’s website. I’m sure “The Beast” will live on, as undigested food masses in the colons of baseball fans everywhere.
(Photo via Gateway Grizzlies)
2. Fort Myers Miracle once hosted “Mike Tyson Ear Night”
On June 28, 1997, Mike Tyson took on Evander Holyfield in the fight dubbed “The Sound and The Fury” for the WBA Championship. Most people remember this bout as the one in which Tyson bit a chunk of Holyfield’s ear off, a move that got the former champ disqualified, allowing Holyfield to retain the belt, along with 93% of his right ear. A decade later the Fort Myers Miracle held “Mike Tyson Ear Night,” where the first 1,000 fans at the game received a fake ear suitable for display, as a child or pet’s toy, or for use as a makeshift ashtray. Ear decorating stations were available throughout Hammond Stadium, and patrons were able to get (presumably) fake tattoos like the one that infamously adorns Iron Mike’s face. Unfortunately the Miracle weren’t able to secure Tyson and his gorgeous singing voice to belt out the National Anthem, which, in hindsight, is a real miss on their part.
(Photo via USA Today)
1. Charleston RiverDogs tried setting lowest attendance record on “Nobody Night”
It would seem rather counterproductive to lock out your fans on game night, maybe even a tad rude, but that’s just what the Charleston RiverDogs, Class-A affiliates of the Rays (now Yankees), did in July of 2002 on “Nobody Night.” The reasoning behind their wacky promotion was to attempt to set the record for professional baseball’s lowest game attendance, and for all intents and purposes they did just that, as the entrances to the stadium were padlocked and fans turned away…and by turned away, we mean they were directed to a nearby tent where they enjoyed discounted food and beer until the game was declared official. The RiverDogs ended up losing 4-2 to the Columbus Red Stixxx, and despite all the game’s runs being scored while they were locked out, the fans ate it up with a spoon. Joke’s on them though—the Marlins set the record every home game for the last few years and they didn’t have to waste any money on padlocks or party tents.