Monday
Aug092010

Thinking Out Of The Batter's Box: Next 'Evolution' In Offbeat Baseball Promotions

Promo item from the St. Paul Saints lets fans take sides on the theory of evolution, a "hot" baseball topic.August 9, 2010: Sports teams, especially those in Minor League Baseball, are always on the lookout for unusual anniversaries to celebrate, strangely famous people to honor and unusual items to  give away as fan incentives. The St. Paul (Minnesota) Saints may take the "out of the box" trophy for 2010:  A night to celebrate the "150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species." (The book actually was first published in November 1859, making this more like the 151st anniversary, but what's another year in the overall evolution of life.)

In an effort to bring "to the forefront the highly controversial science vs. religion debate,"  the first 2,500 fans who are "either created or evolved" to enter the Saints game on Aug. 9 at Midway Stadium will receive a spinning head bobble. According to the team, one side of the heads is Adam and the side other is  Cro-Magnon Man. The body of the doll represents Darwin, with one hand of the body holding an apple while the other will stretch lower to the ground and hold a club, according to the team.

The event,  titled “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” actually was planned for June but was hindered by unforeseen challenges: a shipping company strike kept the items "somewhere in the Pacific Ocean," causing two delays. But the St. Paul Saints say they are finally ready to give away the"controversial" head bobbles.

“The events that have occurred to prevent us from distributing these spinning bobbles aren’t quite of biblical proportion, but we definitely had to think twice whether or not we would continue with the giveaway,” Derek Sharrer, Saints evp/GM, said in a statement. “I’m not sure if this is simply the evolution of a great promotion, or if some greater force was preventing us from doing it.”

Promotions scheduled during the game against the Sioux CIty Explorers will "ensure that fun will be had by both sides," according to the team. "Those favoring creationism will have a chance to bob for apples.  In the seventh inning, everyone will rest. For those on the evolution side, fans will be forced to adapt to their surroundings whether in the left field bleachers or hot tubs. They will honor the Saints evolutionary chain and some may participate in contest to find the best Tarzan call."
 
PepsiCo's Frito brand is a big supporter of Minor League Baseball and its promotional giveaways.This is not the first time that the Saints, who play in the American Association (which is not affiliated with either Major League or Minor League Baseball), have had a promotion tied to a unusual situation. In 2002, during a time of stress between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, the club gave away seat cushions allowing fans to show their support by choosing to sit on either Commissioner Bud Selig or union chief Donald Fehr. And in 2009, the team offered an Al Franken/Norm Coleman “Re-count Doll" when it took eight months for Franken to officially be declared winner of Minnesota's vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Among the most unusual upcoming Minor League Baseball promotions for 2010:

Aug. 19: Lakewood (NJ) Blue Claws (South Atlantic League/Philadelphia Phillies): Diamond Dig: A diamond will be buried in the infield and 250 women will get to search for it (after the game).

Aug. 24: Binghamton (NY) Mets (Eastern League/New York Mets): In cooperation with Sage Supply hardware, the team will give toilet plungers to the first 1,000 fans.

Aug. 25: Peoria (Ill.) Chiefs (Midwest League/Chicago Cubs): Infamous Illinoisans Night: "From governors to gangsters, the Chiefs pay recognition to some of Illinois most infamous citizens." Not listed but potentially could include Al Capone, former Gov. Rob Blagojevich, John Dillinger, John Wayne Gacy Jr. and Richard Leopold and Nathan Loeb.

Aug. 28: Brevard Country (Viera, Fla.) Manatees (Advanced Florida State League/Milwaukee Brewers): Paul Lopez and Amber Miller, winners of the team's "From Home Plate to Happily Ever After" contest, will be married on the field prior to the game against the Clearwater Threshers.

Aug. 29: Tulsa (OK) Drillers (Texas League/Colorado Rockies)): Double-shot promotion: The first 2,000 fans get a replica of ONEOK Stadium; all fans get to see an appearance by Myron Noodleman, the self-titled "hippest nerd in da' biz," who looks like a combination of Pee-Wee Herman and early Jerry Lewis. Noodleman in August also will do his shtick with such teams as the Harrisburg Senators, Wilmington Blue Rocks, Altoona Curve, Tennessee Smoikes, Joliet Jackhammers and Southern Illinois Miners.

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