06/24/2008 10:00 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Previewing can't-miss events at ballparks across the Minor Leagues
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
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."
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Go Back to Ohio Night, June 25
Fresh off last month's carpet bag giveaway, the RiverDogs are once again antagonizing their neighbors to the north with "Go Back to Ohio Night." Influenced by the fact that an inordinate number of Charleston residents are from the Buckeye state (including several members of the RiverDogs' front office), the club is encouraging native Ohioans to dress in a manner that represents their birthplace. The most outrageously dressed individual will be rewarded with the ultimate prize: a one-way bus ticket back to Ohio.
In other news: The RiverDogs' Joseph P. Riley Stadium is an official drop-off point for the Cedar Rapids relief fund. Fans are asked to bring nonperishable items to the ballgame, and these will be shipped to flood-affected areas June 30.
Syracuse Chiefs (International League)
WWE Night featuring ring announcer Lillian Garcia, June 25
An honest-to-God wrestling diva will be in attendance at Wednesday's Chiefs game, as the always alluring Lillian Garcia graces Alliance Bank Stadium with her presence. Garcia, who serves as the ring announcer on WWE's "Raw," will sing the national anthem before the ballgame, then spend the next hour signing autographs (conveniently, photos of Garcia will be available at the stadium for fans to purchase). For those who just can't get enough of Ms. Garcia, $50 will buy admission to a "premium meet and greet reception," which includes a game ticket, autographed photo and, best of all, a "surprise gift."
Dayton Dragons (Midwest League)
The Famous Chicken, June 25
Here we are in late June, and I haven't yet mentioned the inimitable Famous Chicken. That oversight just got rectified in the previous sentence, and here's why: the famed mascot will be appearing at Dayton's Fifth Third Field on Wednesday. For those who have either been in a coma or just born (either way, thanks for reading this column), the world-renowned Famous Chicken is a legend in the mascot industry and has entertained untold millions of fans over the past 30 years. Despite the fact that the Chicken is getting a little up there in years, rumor has it that he's still at the "beak" of his powers.
Connecticut Defenders, Eastern League
Renew Your Vows with Chuck Norris, June 26
The Defenders readily admit that they're not the first team to stage a "Renew Your Vows" wedding ceremony, but they are the first to have such a ceremony presided over by -- wait for it -- Chuck Norris. This particular Chuck Norris never starred in "Walker, Texas Ranger," but he has made a name for himself as a local attorney and certified justice of the peace. Norris will conduct an on-field ceremony that features a pair of morning DJs serving as the Best Man and Maid of Honor. Writes Defenders sales manager Andy Pappas: "The Maid of Honor is eight months pregnant, giving the impression that Chuck Norris might have to do additional heroics that night." He is truly a man of many talents, that Chuck Norris.
Frederick Keys (Carolina League)
Fan Appreciation Weekend, June 26-29
The second half of the Carolina League season kicks off Thursday, and to celebrate this fresh start the Frederick Keys' front office is staging an impromptu "Fan Appreciation Weekend." From Thursday through Sunday, the first 700 fans through the gates can choose from a staggering array of leftover Keys' giveaway items. My guess is that the Francis Scott Key and Cal Ripken Jr. bobbleheads will be the first to go, while lesser items (such as pint glasses and pencil boxes) might be available through the end of the homestand. Either way, kudos to the Keys' front office for having the sense to call this "Fan Appreciation Weekend," as opposed to the far less appealing "Cleaning Out the Storeroom Extravaganza."
Erie SeaWolves (Eastern League)
Tom Brookens Bobblehead Giveaway on Mustache Night, June 27
Many facial hair fashion trends have come and gone over the past 30 years, but through it all SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens has maintained a steadfast commitment to his mustache. The former big leaguer will be honored Friday for the prominent hair on his upper lip when the SeaWolves stage a Tom Brookens bobblehead giveaway in conjunction with "Mustache Night." The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive an undulating collectible featuring Brookens' mustachioed likeness, and throughout the game the SeaWolves will celebrate the best and worst mustaches of all time. Brookens' own facial hair falls firmly in the former category, of course.
Arkansas Travelers (Texas League)
George Kell Night w/Appearances by Brooks Robinson and Al Kaline, June 27
An impressive triumvirate of Hall of Fame players will be in attendance at Dickey-Stephens Park on Friday when the Travelers pay tribute to Arkansas native George Kell. Widely considered one of the best third baseman of all time, Kell hit .306 over 15 Major League seasons in addition to playing stellar defense. Now 85 years old, Kell will be joined at the ballpark by former broadcasting partner Al Kaline as well as fellow third baseman and Arkansas native Brooks Robinson. These three legends will sign autographs for one hour during the ballgame, and the first 2,000 adults in attendance will receive a George Kell bobblehead. Suffice to say, star-studded promotions such as this one don't come along very often. Don't miss it, Arkansasians!
Frisco RoughRiders (Texas League)
Celebrity Baseball Game, June 28
The RoughRiders will be on the road this Saturday, but the club is still offering its fans plenty of incentive to come out to the ballpark. It's the annual "Reebok Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game," a charitable endeavor featuring a wide range of folks who have truly earned their celebrity status. At 4 p.m., former Major Leaguers such as Orestes Destrade, Kevin Bass and Brian McRae will participate in a home run derby, and this will be followed by a star-studded baseball game featuring the likes of Michael Irvin, Mark Cuban, Mike Modano and DeMarcus Ware. Managing these competing squads of moonlighting bigwigs will be none other than Wade Boggs and Fred Lynn, and a fireworks show will take place at the conclusion of the game.
Jacksonville Suns (Southern League)
Southern Rock Night, June 28
As the home of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, .38 Special and many more, Jacksonville is a city that has long known how to rock and roll. On Saturday, the Suns will celebrate this impressive musical legacy by staging "Southern Rock Night." The team will take the field wearing special rock-n-roll-themed jerseys, and tribute band The Lizard Skinners will play a post-game concert. Best of all, the evening's ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by the original Leonard Skinner. A former high school gym teacher, the straitlaced Skinner had an adversarial relationship with some of Lynyrd Skynyrd's original members. Now, he is celebrating his unique place in rock history at a Minor League Baseball game. Life sure is funny sometimes.
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League)
Roller Coaster Replica Giveaway, June 30
The Cyclones are named after the legendary roller coaster that has thrilled Coney Island amusement seekers for over 80 years, and the club is located just a few blocks from its historic namesake. On Monday, the first 2,500 fans through the gates at KeySpan Park will receive a Cyclone Roller Coaster Replica, which is about as desirable a desktop item as you are likely to obtain at a Minor League Baseball game. On a metaphorical level, a baseball season is a lot like a roller coaster. There are lots of ups and downs and twists and turns, but no matter how bad it gets there is comfort in the fact that it will soon come to a complete stop. Just like this column, thank goodness.
Bonus Coverage! -- Because, contrary to the previous sentence, I cannot stop. Here are some promotional winners that didn't make it into last week's column:
Bull Durham Night (Birmingham Barons, June 19) -- This comprehensive tribute included film clips and in-game contests featuring "Bull Durham"-referencing prizes such as candlesticks and shower shoes.
Anna Marie Feigner Appearance (Huntsville Stars, June 19) -- Feigner, the widow and teammate of "King and His Court" softball legend Eddie Feigner, stopped by Joe Davis Stadium to celebrate the life of her late husband.
Volunteer Firefighters Night (Syracuse Chiefs, June 19) -- In which firetrucks were displayed and fire safety tips revealed.
Spam Carving Competition (Reading Phillies, June 20) -- A charitable contest that featured a wide range of highly skilled canned meat artisans.
Kyle Brady Appearance (State College Spikes, June 20) -- Brady, a former Penn State standout who now suits up for the New England Patriots, made a triumphant return to his alma mater.
Pajama Jerseys (Birmingham Barons, June 21-22) -- On consecutive evenings, the suddenly somnambulant Barons took the field in jerseys modeled after a pair of PJs.
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.