05/06/2008 10:00 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Previewing can't-miss events at ballparks across the Minor Leagues
By Benjamin Hill
Minor League teams are known for their game-day promotions. Every Tuesday during the season, we'll preview 10 of the best for the week ahead. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature in the future, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Reading Phillies (Eastern League)
Ryan Howard Santa Snow Globe, May 8
Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard is like Santa Claus in that he is a burly and jovial man. Apparently, these similarities are all that is needed for the R-Phils to justify Thursday's Ryan Howard Santa Snow Globe giveaway. The first 1,000 kids age 14 and under will receive this phenomenal item, which features a bat-wielding, Santa suit-wearing Howard surrounded by floating particles of faux snow. Howard played for Reading in 2004, where he hit 37 homers, drove in 102 runs and once got stuck in a chimney attempting to deliver toys to area children.
Stockton Ports (California League)
Prom Gone Wrong Night, May 8
There's an old saying that "Comedy equals tragedy plus time," and the Ports will display the truth behind this statement during Thursday's "Prom Gone Wrong Night." Painful songs of heartache and rejection will be played between innings, awkward and embarrassing photos will be shown on the video board and parental chaperones will lurk around the concourse in order to curtail any improper physical contact between teenagers (OK, I made that last one up). The evening will culminate with a pair of lucky (?) fans being crowned King and Queen of the ballpark, so make sure to dress in your nattiest attire.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Pacific Coast League)
Ogie's March to One Million, May 9
David "Ogie" Ogron calls himself the "World's Fastest Golfer," and this is no idle boast. The Las Vegas native holds the Guinness World Record for most golf balls hit within 24 hours (10,392), 12 hours (6,971) and one hour (2,438). On Friday, this "lightning of the links" will perform at Colorado Springs' Security Service Field as part of his "March to One Million" tour, the proceeds of which will benefit Shriners Children's Hospitals. Blink and you'll miss it.
Augusta GreenJackets (South Atlantic League)
Skip Banks Performance, May 10
The GreenJackets welcome touring entertainer Skip Banks to Lake Olmstead Stadium on Saturday, and this is one performance that is well worth seeing. On the club's website, they invite fans to "come watch Skip get swallowed by a giant dancing balloon, but only to return as a human dancing machine." It's like my dreams come to life! In order to get everyone in the mood for Skip and his shenanigans, the first 500 youngsters to arrive at the ballpark will receive a GreenJackets balloon. But don't worry, parents. These balloons will not swallow your children, nor will it turn them into human dancing machines.
Indianapolis Indians (International League)
Dave the Horn Guy Performance, May 10
Dave the Horn Guy is one of the rising stars of the Minor League scene, a one-man maelstrom of honks, squonks, bleats and blurps. During Saturday's game in Indianapolis, Dave will don his custom-made orange jumpsuit and play a wide variety of well-known songs using only the 25 chromatically tuned bulb horns attached to his body. The cherry on top of this unparalleled performance is Dave's turbo-charged confetti jet pack, which is strategically discharged throughout the performance in order to elevate his enraptured audience to new heights of musical ecstasy.
Iowa Cubs (Pacific Coast League)
Celebrity Pie-in-the-Face Night, May 10
You know who needs to be taken down a notch? Local radio celebrities, that's who. These jerks think they're all high and mighty, what with their fancy promotional T-shirts and well-manicured facial hair, but they won't look so high and mighty after getting hit in the face with a pie, will they? On Saturday, I-Cubs mascot Cubbie the Bear will get to live out the ultimate fantasy when he delivers a pie to the face of a radio personality. But as for which DJ will receive this honor -- that's for the fans to decide! In a poll on the club's homepage, KXNO's Marty Tirrell holds an ever-so-slim lead over KGGO's Heather Burnside, with KGGO's "Round Guy" and 103.3's "Moose" in a distant third and fourth.
Lancaster JetHawks (California League)
"Big Poppy" Bobblehead Giveaway, May 10
The JetHawks are a Boston affiliate, so it makes sense that they would give away a bobblehead honoring Red Sox superstar David "Big Papi" Ortiz. But check the spelling of the bobblehead they are giving away -- it's "Big Poppy," not "Big Papi." This is because the poppy is the official flower of the state of California and is especially prevalent in the Lancaster area. Therefore, this particular bobblehead honors both Ortiz and the state flower. The result: a mass-produced curiousity that is unrivaled in its ability to evoke both Dominican power hitters and brilliantly hued wildflowers.
Tucson Sidewinders (Pacific Coast League)
Desert Diamond Giveaway, May 11
There are quite a few teams around the Minor Leagues that stage "Diamond Dig" promotions, in which a select group of female fans are given the opportunity to dig up the infield in a quest for buried treasure. The ever-classy Sidewinders, meanwhile, have instead settled on a more dignified way to distribute diamonds to their fan base. On Saturday, a quarter-carat diamond pendant will be awarded to one lucky individual upon the conclusion of each inning. Then, at the end of the ninth inning, one ultra-lucky individual will win a half-carat pendant. This promotion will no doubt be a hit with the grounds crew, who won't have to repair an infield marred by the frantic post-game digging of diamond-mad women.
Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
Bubblegum Pop Night, May 13
The Altoona Curve couldn't have picked a better time to stage their "Bubblegum Pop" night, given that the New Kids on the Block reunion tour is set to kick off in just a few days. Joey, Donnie, Danny, Jordan and Jonathan won't be in attendance, unfortunately, but Blair County Ballpark will nonetheless be filled with the saccharine sounds of NKOTB acolytes like Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and 98 Degrees. Additionally, the always literal-minded Curve will be staging "bubble gum-themed" between-inning promotions as well as a pregame bubble-blowing contest.
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
"Honey, I Think My Hot Dog Is Green," May 13
On Tuesday, the RiverDogs are staging "Honey, I Think My Hot Dog Is Green," a promotional night in which fans will be happy to receive hot dogs of a decidedly different hue. This is because the "green" in question is cold, hard cash! Throughout the course of the ballgame, lucky fans will receive American currency wrapped up alongside their frankfurters. These monetary prizes range from two to 100 dollars and will help ensure the purchase of additional, potentially cash-laden hot dogs.
Before moving into my typical rundown of promos that didn't make it into last week's column, I'd like to stop and congratulate Mighty Gonzalez. On May 1, as part of the Fort Myers' Miracle "Thirsty Thursday" promotion, the Florida strongman set a new world record by lifting a full beer keg 983 times over the course of the game (he kept going even after dislocating his shoulder on lift No. 942). Congratulations, Mighty.
And now back to regularly scheduled programming. Here are some overlooked promotions that took place last week:
Manny Sanguillen Appearance (Altoona Curve, May 2) -- The star catcher took a break from working at his PNC Park BBQ to visit the fine fans of Altoona.
Dr. Seuss Night (Lake Elsinore Storm, May 2) -- Because the best promotions are those that are staged in anapestic tetrameter. (Update -- this was canceled after the Storm received a cease-and-desist order from Dr. Seuss Enterprises).
Craig Biggio Figurine (Corpus Christi Hooks, May 3) -- This giveaway item will be eligible for induction into the Figurine Hall of Fame in 2013.
Seat Cushion Giveaway (Fresno Grizzlies, May 3) -- As if Fresno's Chukchansi Park wasn't comfortable enough already...
Little E Performance (Mississippi Braves, May 3) -- In which fans were treated to a mesmerizing performance by the world's smallest Elvis impersonator.
Diamond Dig (Inland Empire 66ers, May 4) -- The 66ers recently received the Promise Award from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and celebrated by donating $2 of each "Diamond Dig" ticket toward breast cancer research.
Curt Schilling Bobblehead (New Hampshire Fisher Cats, May 5) -- If this one were a talking bobblehead, it would never shut up.
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.