Over this past weekend, many teams around baseball celebrated Mother’s Day with Pink at the Park promotions. While pink bats were among the ways Major League Baseball and its 30 teams raised awareness for the fight against breast cancer, clubs around Minor League Baseball incorporated pink jerseys in to their promotions. In this week’s Promotions Watch, we will recap some of the more notable events from the minors.
Most of the teams that were home over the weekend hosted either a pink weekend, or a promotion that was exclusive to Mother’s Day. A few teams—including, but not limited to, the Delmarva Shorebirds (Low Class A; Sally League), Northwest Arkansas Travelers (Class AA; Texas League), Norfolk Tides (Class AAA; International League), Salt Lake Bees (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), Rome Braves (Low Class A; Sally League)—broke out their special pink jerseys on Sunday.
Rather than building their weekend around a limited edition jersey, several squads advertised various group and brunch specials, or special on-field promotions. The Akron Rubber Ducks (Class AA; Eastern League) invited families for a pre-game catch on the field and offered a $12 brunch at The Game Grill + Bar at Canal Park. The Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and the Wilmington Blue Rocks (High Class A; Carolina League) utilized their respective club levels for similar specials, while the Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League) held a post-game kids and moms run the bases. A pair of Class AA Eastern League squads—the Portland Sea Dogs and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats—hosted their respective Mother’s Day 5K and Mother’s Day 3K promotions. In another twist, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) took the field wearing pink and gray caps and used pink bases.
The Salem Red Sox (Class High A; Carolina League) had a fairly extensive Pink in the Park weekend, as they wore specialty jerseys on Saturday and Sunday. Along with a jersey auction, the Red Sox benefitted their local chapter of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation through several levels of ticket sales, ranging from proceeds of a single game ticket to a $300 group sales offering. Saturday’s game was a good draw for the Red Sox, as over 5,000 fans turned out for a doubleheader at LewisGale Field.
While those were some of the notable examples from this past weekend, minor league fans who want to take part in a Pink at the Park night have plenty of options over the next few months. One that is just around the corner comes from the Charlotte Knights (Class AAA; International League), who will host their 10th Annual Pink Knights on May 16. Along with auctioning off pink jerseys, the Knights will hand out pink logo balls to the first 2,500 ladies at the ballpark. Last year, over 10,000 fans turned out for Pink Knight at BB&T Ballpark.
The Knights are not alone among International League squads with their annual Pink at the Park nights: The Toldeo Mud Hens and the Buffalo Bisons both have these events on their dockets for later in the summer. Toledo will host their event on July 10, and are encouraging fans to wear pink as they try to pink out Fifth Third Field. In the past, the Mud Hens have usually worn pink jerseys that are available through silent auction. Along with the jerseys, the team typically makes several other donations—including $1 from each ticket sale—to Komen of Northwest Ohio.
The Bisons will take their turn on August 1, the night of the team’s annual Turn the Park Pink. Among other offerings on this night, the Bisons are providing free admission to breast cancer survivors. Those who are interested in the free tickets are encouraged to call the Bisons’ front office.
Pink jerseys, or some type of giveaway that raises the awareness for the fight against breast cancer, will be fairly common around the minors this year. In a few cases, however, teams are taking the extra step of incorporating other unique promotions. The State College Spikes (Short Season A; New York-Penn League) and the Las Vegas 51’s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will host giveaways for the replicas of their pink jerseys. The Spikes will hand out 1,000 pink camouflage jerseys in addition to auctioning off the game-used jerseys on August 2, while the 51’s will make 2,500 gray and pink jerseys available as part of Fan Appreciation Night on September 5.
The Harrisburg Senators (Class AA; Eastern League) will feature an appearance by the popular Washington Nationals Racing Presidents during Pink Night on August 15. As part of the promotion, the Senators will host a mid and post-game auction for the jerseys worn by the team and will also hand out replica jerseys. The giveaways will be available to the first 1,000 fans 13 and older.
If you are in the mood for an alternative to the standard pink jerseys, the Jacksonville Suns (Class AA; Southern League) are hosting two promotions to keep an eye on. As noted a few weeks ago in our feature on minor league history nights, the Suns will auction off throwback jerseys to benefit the Patient Assistance Foundation as part of 90’s night on May 15. The Suns will have a pink tie-in on July 4 as part of Military Appreciation Night, when pink military jerseys will be auctioned off for the Greater Jacksonville Area USO.
This look at the pink nights around the minors ends with of the more interesting jersey designs of the year, which comes courtesy of the Altoona Curve (Class AA; Eastern League). The Curve will take the field on August 8 wearing a white jersey with pink sleeves, which will be auctioned off during the game for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Within the white section of the jersey will be the names of 200 cancer survivors; the Curve are accepting names in the form of $30 donations until May 17. The promotion also features a few other benefits for Making Strides, including a limited edition t-shirt that will be available for all fans to purchase.
Far more importantly than adding a unique night to their promotional schedule, teams are using pink nights to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer by benefiting local, regional, and national charities. As will be seen in one instance next week, these promotions are not only having an impact in the minors, but are also becoming widespread at the summer collegiate level. Whether it is one of the promotions highlighted here, or efforts by other teams in the minors, Pink at the Park nights will be a great way this season to attend a game and support a deserving charitable cause.