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Promotions Watch: 1990s TV Show Theme Nights

Frisco RoughRiders Full House

Nostalgia for the 1990s and its entertainment offerings is fully evident as it relates to the television show theme nights, which are common across Minor League Baseball this year. Some of the most notable theme nights—which feature special jerseys as well as celebrity appearances—are the focus of this week’s Promotions Watch.

As seen last week with the announcement of a new Full House spinoff, the nostalgia for past TV shows can affect modern programming. Many of the stars from the show, which ran on ABC from 1987-1995, are expected to appear in the new Fuller House when it premiers next year on Netflix. For fans of that show as well, as other 1990s television shows, the time waiting for Fuller House can be passed by partaking in several promotions around the minors.

Full House tributes were blown out of the water by the Frisco RoughRiders (Class AA; Texas League). Back in March, the team received a great deal of press coverage when it announced a Full House night on June 12, complete with a special jersey. With its rather busy and colorful design, the jersey has received a good bit of positive attention, to the point where the RoughRiders made a limited number of replicas available for purchase.

Though the jerseys have gotten the most attention, the RoughRiders are incorporating a few other unique elements. Actor Dave Coulier, who played Joey Gladstone on the series, will be on hand to throw the first pitch and sign autographs. The RoughRiders will also give one fan a free trip to San Francisco, where Full House was set. Special video board graphics will be used throughout the night.

While few teams are celebrating Full House to the extent that the RoughRiders are, there are still a few other promotions to note. Coulier will be touring around ballparks this year as a special celebrity guest; in fact, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) hosted the actor back on April 14. As part of that promotion, Coulier threw out the first pitch and signed autographs while also being available in an exclusive meet and greet.

Coulier and Full House are not the lone celebrity and TV show pairing to be featured in the minor leagues this year. Chances are that your favorite could be among several that are hosting a tribute to the bygone show Saved by the Bell. The team that has gotten the most coverage for their Saved by the Bell night is the Brooklyn Cyclones (Short Season A; New York-Penn League).

On June 24, the Cyclones will host a Saved by the Bell Night . Much like the RoughRiders’ celebration of Full House, this promotion includes its own bright and lavishly designed jersey. The jerseys will be raffled off during the game, which will feature a variety of Saved by the Bell-inspired entertainment, including an oldest cellphone in the ballpark contest. Those promotional opportunities will be capped by a special run the bases for any fans that get into the Saved by the Bell fashion trends by wearing a perm hairstyle or acid-washed jeans.

As noted earlier, Saved by the Bell is fairly popular this year on promotional schedules. While most teams are not going paying a tribute as extensive as the Cyclones, visits from actor Dennis Haskins, who played Bayside High School’s principal, Mr. Belding, are quite common. Haskins has been touring the minor-league circuit for a few seasons now and has generally been a popular celebrity wherever he has gone. Among the places to look for Haskins this year include Frawley Stadium, where the Wilmington Blue Rocks (High Clss A; Carolina League) will host the actor on May 23. As part of that promotion, the Blue Rocks will giveaway Bayside Blue Rocks t-shirts to the first 1,000 fans in attendance.

Haskins will also be on hand at Eastwood Field, home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Short Season A; New York-Penn League), on July 17. In addition to a first pitch and a pregame autograph signing, the Scrappers will make Haskins available as part of an exclusive pregame VIP meet and greet. Tickets are currently available for $25. Among the other teams that will host Haskins in unique ways include the Great Lakes Loons (Low Class A; Midwest League), who will have the actor host a post-game karaoke contest on July 29.

Brooklyn Cyclones Cosmo Jersey

Along with Full House and Saved by the Bell, Seinfeld is a 1990s show that is feeling the love from minor-league teams. The best example of this comes from Brooklyn, who will host its second annual Salute to Seinfeld Night on July 5. Last year the team wore a puffy-shirt themed jersey and gave away Keith Hernandez bobbleheads. While that might be a tough act to follow, the Cyclones are already off to a good start this year, having revealed Cosmo’s Technicolor Jersey, a special uniform top inspired by the episode in which Cosmo Kramer (played by Michael Richards) borrows the coat from the play Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In addition to the jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game, the Cyclones will give away 2,5000 Little Jerry bobbleheads and host actor Steve Hytner, who played recurring character Kenny Bania.

Though the most extensive and notable, the Cyclones’ tribute to Seinfeld is not alone this season. The New Orleans Zephyrs (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) are featuring a Seinfeld Night on May 15. Though the team has not released a lot of information about what it plans to offer, something interesting could be in the offing, as the team is making TV and movie theme nights—including tributes to the Toy Story and Jurassic Park films—a major component of its promotional schedule.

Another Seinfeld promotion to keep an eye on comes from the Frederick Keys (High Class A; Carolina League). The Keys are planning a Seinfeld Night with the Soup Nazi night on August 15, which will feature an appearance from Yev Kassem, aka the Soup Nazi. Larry Thomas, the actor who played the Soup Nazi, has become something of a staple around the minors: Among the teams to have featured him in the past include the Cyclones, the Flying Squirrels, and the Toledo Mud Hens (Class AAA; International League).

Another string of TV-related promos to keep an eye on: Though not exclusive to the 90s, Saturday Night Live remains popular among viewers of all ages and celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this year. The Fort Wayne Tin Caps (Low Class A; Midwest League) will host Live from Fort Wayne, its Saturday Night! on June 13 and hand out 1,000 cowbells as part of the promotion. The Potomac Nationals (High Class A; Carolina League) will sport limited edition jerseys for their tribute to Saturday Night Live on May 30. The team will reveal the jerseys soon.

Expect TV theme nights to continue over the coming years, as there is no shortage of actors willing to make an appearance for nostalgic fans. These promotions also allow teams to try different forms of marketing, such as special jerseys, in an effort to connect with people who have an interest in something other than baseball.

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