August 6, 2009: How do Minor League teams get fannies in the seats? Liposuction, the Pillow Fight League, Waffle Appreciation Day and other offbeat promotions of 2009:
July 7: Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Renegades (Short-Seat A affiliates of the Tampa Bay Rays)" "Ball-less Ballgame" promotional event paid tribute to its female fans. Men were not to be allowed into the stadium until after the 5th inning, but a protest from local officials, who yelled sex discrimination, caused the team to ease back a bit. Inside, women were treated to massages, pedicures and pink beer. Outside, the Renegades had a huge tailgate that featured free haircuts, a PlayStation 3, poker tables and a telecast of the game on a large-screen TV. The team let men in all game and afterward stated that the ratio inside the ballpark wasn't all too different from any other night.
• July 8: Mahoning Valley (Ohio) Scrappers (Short-Season A affiliates of the Cleveland Indians): A female fan won a free liposuction procedure during the game with the Auburn Doubledays. Five finalists were ushered out onto the field, where the grand prize winner was named, later to be treated by sponsor Valley Surgical Arts.
• July 17: Jacksonville (FL) Suns (affiliated with the Florida Marlins) held a "St. Patrick's Day Eight Months Away Night." The first 3,000 fans received green baseball caps identical to those being worn by Suns players and saw a post-game Leprechaun World Wrestling Championship (pictured above). Proving that baseball teams love the Irish, the Stockton Ports of the California League will celebrate "Halfway to St. Patty's Day" on Sept. 3 with Irish-themed music, fun and food.
• July 17: The San Bernardino (Calif.) Sixty-Sixers (Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers): Manny Ramirez played a handful of games just prior to rejoining the Dodgers after his 50-game PED-related suspension. The Sixers had a Manny bobblehead giveaway, using the same item Los Angeles handed out on July 22 and will again hand out on the Dodgers' second Manny Bobblehead Day on Sept. 16. According to the San Bernardino Sun, fans started to line up three hours before the gates opened; 6,634 fans were at the game, the third-largest figure this season to that point behind a game on the Fourth of July and the second of the three games Ramirez played for the Sixty-Sixers. However, not everyone loves Manny: On July 30, the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners (Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) held a One-Year Anniversary of the Manny Trade Night, According to the team, "Manny quit on the Red Sox more than once and on this date we will honor the anniversary of his trade, as well as other well known quitters.
• July 19: Brooklyn Cyclones (Shorts-Season A affiliate of the New York Mets): "Bellies & Baseball: A Salute to Pregnancy." Expectant moms traversed the bases with no shoes on before the game, an area on the Concourse level offered pickles, ice cream and anchovy pizza "for pregnant women who crave more than the usual ballpark fare" and pregnant women were on the field in the 7th inning to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." The South Bend (IN) Silver Hawks (Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks) are having a similar event on Aug. 9.
• July 26: Quad-Cities River Bandits (Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals): Mega-Candy Drop saw 100 pounds of candy and 100 pounds of marshmallows dropped from a helicopter, which attracted a crowd about double the team's 2,800 average. It went better than the classic turkey drop on the TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati, in which 20 farm-raised turkeys who could not fly were dropped from a helicopter during a promotion, leaving very messy results.
• July 30: Wilmington (Del.) Blue Rocks (Advanced-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals): Joe Biden Bobblehead Day. The Vice President served as a Delaware senator for 36 years prior to assuming his current position, and the Blue Rocks honored him by distributing 1,000 Joe Biden bobbleheads.
• Aug. 6: Quad-Cities River Bandits are hosting the Pillow Fight League, Toronto. Among the rules: Female pillow fighters only. No exceptions. Professional pillow fights are won via pinfall, surrender, or referee stoppage. No biting, scratching, or hair pulling. Beyond that most anything goes in a pillow fight, as long as there is a pillow at the point of contact.
• Aug. 11: Fresno (Calif.) Grizzlies (Triple A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants): "All You Can Eat Tuesday" team promo reads, "It's the all-inclusive, value packed deal you've been waiting for - All You Can Eat Tuesday! That's right, for just $15 you'll get a Field Level Reserve ticket and access to All You Can Eat ballpark food! The All You Can Eat menu includes unlimited hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, soft drinks, and water through 8:30 PM." This is being run in conjunction with Kraft Singles Tuesday Night, which Kraft has been holding across Minor League Baseball this season. Fans who buy one ticket get one free by bringing in a Kraft Singles package wrapper to the ticket office (all you can eat cheese gets you lots of tickets at lots of Minor League ballparks).
• Aug. 18: Toledo (Ohio) Mud Hens (Triple A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers): "Salute to Bubbles" with bubble demonstrations and a bubbles giveaway to the first 2,000 fans.
• Aug. 21: Pulaski (VA) Mariners (Advanced Rookie League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners) are having a "50 promotions in one evening" night, but would not share what promotions were being promoted. On Aug. 1, the team hosted a "Halloween around the ballpark" night with little goblins, trick-or-treating and costume contests.
• Aug. 24: Greensboro (NC) Grasshoppers (Class A Affiliate of the Florida Marlins): National Waffle Appreciation Day. Waffles, waffles, waffles. Celebrates the patenting of the waffle iron by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York on Aug. 24, 1869.
• Aug. 28: St. Paul Saints (American Assn. of Independent Professional Baseball): To celebrate both the 40th anniversary of man landing on the Moon and the life of Michael Jackson, the Saints will hand out wind-up Moonwalkers. According to the team, "This thriller of a giveaway goes to the first 2,500 fans in attendance and is in the shape of a crescent moon, complete with craters, along with feet on the bottom for one special function: so the moon can walk.Turn on your favorite pop song, wind-up the doll and watch as the Saints Moonwalker slides his feet and doesn’t stop ‘til he gets enough." “Our fans always tell us to shoot for the moon and I think we’ve done that,” Saints owner and president Mike Veeck (and son of the legendary baseball owner Bill Veeck), said in a statement. “Whether you’re black or white, the man in the mirror, or a smooth criminal, this is a great way to celebrate two historic moon walks.”