The sport of baseball is in itself, romantic. Fans pile into stadiums to escape from the real world and watch America’s past time. This means getting to watch a gorgeous sunset over center-field wall, see tomorrow’s up-and-coming baseball stars and compete in spam carving contests.
You can’t make that up.
While Minor League Baseball is known for its greatness on the field, it’s becoming quickly known more for its “greatness” OFF the field. And I’m by no means complaining. Where else could I go to get a free Noah (Yes, the Bible Noah) bobblehead (Hickory Crawdads) or register to win a pre-planned funeral prize pack (Hagerstown Suns)?
It’s now become the genius, or lack thereof, behind nightly promotions that have driven ball clubs to sell tickets. Whether it be human-organ colored jerseys (Memphis Redbirds) or Britney Spears Baby Safety Night (Newark Bears), Minor League Baseball is known to have the most outlandish promotions.
And here at The Lab, we think we’ve found 10 of the strangest, most bizarre, you-actually-have-fun-at-but-don’t-want-to-admit-it-to-your-friends themed promotions in all of Minor League Baseball.
10. Circle of Life Weekend (Quad Cities River Bandits)
Quad Cities promotional night included funding a birth (a night for expectant mothers), school (a one-year scholarship for college), marriage (an all-expenses paid wedding) and death (expenses paid funeral) over the course of a weekend homestand. (After winning all of that, I guess the only thing left to do is actually watch the game)
9. Zubaz and a Monkey Night (St. Paul Saints)
St. Paul brought in a real, live monkey dressed in Zubaz pants (from Screech Powers) to perform the jobs of the regular staff members. The monkey attempted to drag the field with a rake or even manage the concession stands. (Try explaining the importance of your job after watching a monkey handle it for you)
8. Backstabbers Night (Augusta GreenJackets)
In response to the LeBron James “Decision” on ESPN, the GreenJackets hosted a Roast of the former Cavaliers star. Anyone with an Ohio driver’s license was admitted for free and seated in a specially designated section that was staffed by a grief counselor. Augusta inducted James into the Backstabbers Hall of Fame and concluded the evening with Manager Dave Machemer announcing on live TV where he was going to dinner that night. (Fans now wear GreenJackets jerseys while they watch the Super Bowl for fear of being outcasted by the team)
7. Anti-Doping Night (Vero Beach Devil Rays)
The Devil Rays held this event in preparation for their own Olympic Night to “ensure their Olympic Competition will be a fair, clean event for all participants, and discourage the use of drugs or steroids in any form.” The kicker was the first 200 fans received free urine sample cups. (Should have paired with Thirsty Thursday to save trips to the bathroom)
6. George Costanza Night (Fort Myers Miracle)
The Miracle honored the hilarious lifestyle of “Seinfeld” character George Costanza (making decisions by doing the opposite of his instincts) by running a baseball game in the opposite of normal routine. This meant the scoreboard ran from the ninth inning to the first, fans were paid money to park, teams wore the opposite home/road uniforms and the players asked the fans for autographs. (“If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right” – George Costanza)
5. Salute to Indoor Plumbing Night (West Virginia Power)
Initially, the team planned to close all of the restrooms and have everyone use portable toilets. Luckily, if there’s such a thing as luckily in this promotion, health code concerns forced the Power to resort to other means to appreciate their local plumbers. This includes, and sadly not limited to, dressing the employees in overalls, serving mashed up brownies that look like… and hosting a “Poo Toss.” (There were no winners in this competition)
4. Nobody Night (Charleston RiverDogs)
Fans who purchased tickets and paid for parking were treated to being locked out of the stadium for this promotion. The RiverDogs padlocked the doors until the fifth inning to set a Minor League Baseball attendance record of zero. This promotion ensures the RiverDogs will have the lowest single game attendance record of all-time, and a spot in the lower half of our promotions countdown. (The big question is, how many people actually stuck around to get into the stadium when the doors were unlocked)
3. SPAM Carving Night (Reading Phillies)
Reading implemented this promotional night to raise money for a local charity. Contestants were supplied with knives and toothpicks (and stripped of their dignity) but were encourage to bring their own carving tools to carve a slab of SPAM for a panel of judges. The team’s press release warned that “exposure to elements will quickly transform SPAM’s appealing pink-tinged luster to a distressingly monochrome shade of brown.” (And who said there wasn’t anything to do in Reading)
2. Silent Night (Charleston RiverDogs)
The RiverDogs’ second appearance in our countdown attempted to meet their lowest attendance record from Nobody Night by posting the “quietest game ever” with Silent Night. During the first five innings of the game, no talking was allowed. Many fans Duct Taped their mouths shut and some of the more creative attendees brought signs to cheer, boo or perhaps most importantly, a “HEY BEER MAN!” sign. The team staffed librarians and golf marshals with “Quiet Please” signs in place of the regular ushers. (How do you drink a beer with Duct Tape over your mouth anyway)
1. Awful Night (Altoona Curve and Salem Red Sox)
The best and worst promotion in Minor League Baseball (it IS called awful night) begins with the giveaway of “awful” promotional items like a noisemaker, air guitar, free compliment from an employee or bottomless cups. The terribleness continues with music from David Hasselhoff and William Shatner, video clips from Ben Affleck movies, a non-celebrity autograph session and in-game contests like helium balloon toss, a dry water slide, staring contest with the mascot and musical chairs with an abundance of chairs. To cap off the grand celebration, fans are treated to a fireworks display. On the video board. (Imagine the fans if the team loses on top of all this)
With ideas like this, you can’t put a price on the entertainment value at the ballpark. Not only are fans given nine innings of the greatest sport in the world, they may also be in for a “terribly awesome” night of promotions. So grab yourself a hot dog, sit back, relax and enjoy the magic of Minor League Baseball.
Unless of course you’re at the Charleston RiverDogs and find yourself locked out.