07/01/2008 9:22 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Previewing can't-miss events at ballparks across the Minor Leagues
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
Dennis Holmberg, who led Auburn to the '07 crown, could meet his long-lost twin on July 5. (Danny Wild/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."
Altoona Curve (Eastern League)
Irish Pat's Used Car Giveaway, July 2
Awful Night, July 7
As regular readers of this column are well aware, the Altoona Curve set the bar high when it comes to promotions. How high? Well, let's take a look-see, shall we? On Wednesday, the Curve are staging their annual "Irish Pat's Used Car Giveaway," during which turf manager Patrick Coakley dons a leprechaun suit, affects an Irish brogue and gives away a half-dozen used cars over the course of the ballgame. Then, five days later, it's the return of the legendary "Awful Night." This year's version, which is being touted as the "Worse-est Ever," promises to take the art of being awful to a whole new level of transcendent brilliance. For a recap of last year's Awful Night, click here.
Princeton Devil Rays (Appalachian League)
"Go Figure" Figurine Giveaway, July 2
The team that brought you last season's "Clean Out the Storeroom Night" is up to its old tricks again. On Wednesday, the Princeton Devil Rays (who, like Vero Beach, have opted to keep the "Devil" in their name) are luring fans to the ballpark with their mysterious "Go Figure" figurine giveaway. What is for certain is that the first 500 fans will receive a complimentary figurine. But therein lurks the intrigue -- from Aki Iwamura to Don Zimmer, there will be over a half-dozen different figurines available. These ghosts of giveaways past will only be available while supplies last, so arrive early to enjoy the widest range of choices possible.
Buffalo Bisons (International League)
Independence Eve Celebration, July 3
Now in its 14th season, the Bisons' Independence Eve celebration has firmly established itself as one of Buffalo's most anticipated summer events. Upon the conclusion of Thursday's game against the Rochester Red Wings, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will take to the field to perform a diverse set of classic American tunes. This will segue into -- what else? -- a thunderous fireworks show of spectacular proportions. On a more somber note, the evening will also include a musical tribute to a pair of recently deceased Buffalo icons: former Mayor Jimmy Griffin and journalist Tim Russert.
Louisville Bats (International League)
Duo Design Performance, July 3
While Darek and Jarek might sound like a couple of characters from a forgotten "Saturday Night Live" sketch, they are in fact the highly skilled individuals who make up "Duo Design." Described on their web page as a "dynamic and exciting strength and hand-balancing act from Warsaw, Poland," Duo Design specializes in unbelievable displays of slow-motion gymnastic choreography. According to the Los Angeles Times, Duo Design are "quite possibly the most superbly conditioned athletes on Earth ... these muscular ubermenschen have to be seen to be believed." Louisville Bats fans will have the chance to see these so-called ubermenschen for themselves during Thursday's contest against Indianapolis. You'll be uber-sorry if you miss it!
Durham Bulls (International League)
Modern West featuring Kevin Costner, July 4
Kevin Costner portrayed aging catcher Crash Davis in 1988's Bull Durham, a movie that helped spark a nationwide Minor League Baseball revival. Now, in celebration of the film's 20th anniversary, the iconic actor is returning to Durham to perform with his band, Modern West. This Independence Day concert will be held in the cozy confines of Durham Bulls Athletic Park and will be followed by a Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. Unfortunately, the Bulls themselves are not a part of this gala event, as they will be playing in Charlotte whilst their ballpark is filled with the rollicking sounds of Costner and his musical cronies. That hardly seems fair.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League)
Competing as the New Hampshire Primaries, July 4
In November 2003, it was announced that New Hampshire's new Double-A franchise would be named "The Primaries." This moniker was not received well by fans, however, who apparently wanted the team to be named after a weasel-like mammal instead. On Independence Day, the Fisher Cats will pay homage to what almost was when they suit up as "The Primaries" in special red, white and blue uniforms (which, fittingly, are all primary colors). This promotion marks the second time that New Hampshire has taken the field as the Primaries, as they assumed that identity in a game last August and defeated Portland, 6-1. A fireworks display is also part of the evening's festivities, although the ballgame is obviously the primary reason to attend.
Auburn Doubledays (New York-Penn League)
Dennis Holmberg Lookalike Contest, July 5
Awful Car Night, July 6
Are you a portly middle-aged man with a nice tan and a love for our national pastime? Then come to Auburn's Falcon Park on Saturday, when the Doubledays stage a Dennis Holmberg look-alike contest in honor of their longtime skipper. If managerial resemblance isn't your thing, then perhaps Sunday's "Awful Car Night" will be more to your liking. On this special evening, fans will vie for the honor of having the worst automobile at the ballpark. A variety of pitiable vehicular specimens will be driven around the warning track, and a fan vote will determine which one is the "worse-est." The "winner" of the contest will be awarded $100 in cash, approximately what their car is worth in the first place.
New Britian Rock Cats (Eastern League)
Tribute to Mary Ellen Welsh, July 5
It is rare that something as pedestrian as a press release is able to bring a tear to my eye, but that's just what happened when I first read about the Rock Cats' tribute to Mary Ellen Welsh. A New Britain resident, Welsh was murdered following a home invasion on March 30. Seeking to transform this horrific event into something positive, Welsh's large group of friends has teamed up with the Rock Cats to celebrate her life and legacy during Saturday's ballgame. Among the evening's many highlights: 5,000 kelly-green wristbands printed with Welsh's motto of "It's Okay!" will be distributed to the fans in attendance, and she will receive a stadium salute during the evening's post-game fireworks display.
Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Nothing Night, July 7
The Storm's annual Nothing Night is exactly what its name implies. Sure, there will be a baseball game going on, but nothing at all beyond that -- no tickets, no concessions, no announcer, no between-inning contests ... nothing. This is obviously a dream come true for the crotchety baseball purists who chafe at the hoopla that normally surrounds the action on the field, but other fans may find themselves getting a little antsy as the game wears on. Reports Storm director of game operations Matt Dompe: "Last year a fan got fed up, climbed on the dugout and started announcing batters."
Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League)
Jacoby Ellsbury World Series Coin Giveaway, July 7
In 2005, Jacoby Ellsbury made his professional debut with the Lowell Spinners. A scant two years later, he played a key late-season role with the World Champion Boston Red Sox. In honor of Ellsbury's rise to the big time, the Spinners will be distributing 1,500 encased collector's coins on Monday. One side of the coin features the scrappy outfielder as a Spinner, while on the flip he is portrayed as a World Series champ. The Spinners' coin collection promotion continues Aug. 1, when Jonathan Papelbon will be honored in a similar fashion. No word yet on whether this coin will commemorate the closer's jig-dancing abilities.
Bonus Coverage! -- Due to a rare but costly clerical error down at Promotion Preview headquarters, many, many worthwhile promos were inadvertently left out of last week's column. So many, in fact, that I am forced to list them without comment:
Crazy Hot Dog Vendor Hat Giveaway and Mike Schmidt Appearance (Reading Phillies, June 25)
Hands-Free Headset Giveaway (Everett AquaSox, June 26)
Flight to Nowhere Night (Fort Myers Miracle, June 26)
Get a River Bandits Tattoo in Exchange for a Season Ticket (Quad City River Bandits, June 26)
Women's Weekend (Bowie Baysox, June 27-29)
Buster Bluegill Bobblehead Giveaway (Lake County Captains, June 28)
Carlos Ruiz Bobblehead Giveway and Jim Rice Appearance (Lakewood Blueclaws, June 28)
Cowbell Section Unveiled (Visalia Oaks, June 28)
Star Wars Night (West Michigan Whitecaps, June 28)
Drag King for a Day/Hands-Free Night/Steve Sax Appearance (Fresno Grizzlies, June 27/28/29)
Jack McDowell Appearance (Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, June 29)
Kids Manage the Ballpark Night (Spokane Indians, June 29)
Wine Festival/Little League Night (Stockton Ports, June 29)
World's Largest Spiedie/Mayor of Albany Bobblehead Giveaway (Tri-City ValleyCats, June 29/June 30)
Mr. Celery Bank Giveaway and Birthday Party (Wilmington Blue Rocks, June 29)
Ted Williams Aviator Bobblehead Giveaway (Lowell Spinners, July 1)
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.