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Promotions Watch: Baseball, Beaches, and Parrot Heads

Richmond Flying Squirrels jersey

Baseball and the beach are two summer pastimes, making their combination a natural fit for Minor League Baseball, where promotions give fans a chance to mix up their summer wardrobes. With many teams either giving away or auctioning off summer-themed jerseys—and, in several cases, incorporating a Jimmy Buffett tribute—over the next few weeks, it is the perfect time for Promotions Watch to roundup some of the most notable.

In this month alone, there have been a few beach-related jerseys that attracted attention. The Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) took the field wearing a Jaws jersey back on June 13, while the Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) broke out a beach shirt uniform on Saturday. Over 8,000 fans turned out for Richmond’s promotion, and there were more than 10,000 attendees at the Dell Diamond when the Express donned their specialty jerseys. Though those two clubs are among the top-drawing teams in their respective leagues, it still goes to show that Minor League teams can bring fans out to the ballpark by working a summer-related jersey into their slates.

In order to build some crossover appeal, many clubs are making their jerseys a part of a Jimmy Buffett tribute. Tapping into Buffet makes sense: After several decades in music, he has a broad fan base that fills venues for his performances.

Any Parrot Head—as Buffett fans are known—in New England will want to check the Lowell Spinners (Class Short Season A; New York-Penn League) on August 6. That night, the first 1,000 fans through the gates of LeLacheur Park will receive a free Parrot Head jersey as part of Jimmy Buffett night.

Of all the jerseys covered in Promotions Watch this year, the Spinners’ offering stands out. Featuring a literal, imposing parrot head, the jersey includes a variety of bright colors. The Spinners’ logo, meanwhile, is relegated to a patch on the side. Consider this the Parrott Head uniform counterpart to the Altoona Curve’s (Class AA; Eastern League) drooling Jabba the Hut jersey.

If you cannot wait until August to take part in a Jimmy Buffett tribute, there is an interesting option this Saturday. The Carolina Mudcats (Class High A; Carolina League) will host their own Parrot Head night, complete with special beach themed jerseys. Fans can bid on the jerseys following the game. There is a natural tie between Buffett and baseball: he’s been investing in several MiLB teams over the years and plays many big concerts at MLB venues.

A similar promotion will take place in a fitting location on July 11. The Jacksonville Suns (Class AA; Southern League) will honor Buffett with their own special jersey, while also featuring a post-game concert by the George Aspinall Band—a regional group that covers Buffett’s music. With the game scheduled for 7:05, fans would have the time to make a pre-game stop to one of the nearby beaches, making for a complete summer experience.

The Suns will make the jerseys available during a mid-game auction that will benefit the Wolfson Children’s Hospital. This promotion is just a part of a busy night at Bragan Field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville: A J.T. Realmuto bobblehead will be given out to the first 3,000 fans, while the first 25 attendees to donate blood will receive two free tickets along with a hot dog and soda voucher.

Buffett fans in the Midwest will want to head out to Perfect Game Field on August 8, when the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Class Low A; Midwest League) will wear Hawaiian shirt jerseys—which can be purchased as part of a silent auction during the game. The 5:05 start allows for a pair of interesting post-game events, as the Kernels will feature a firework show and a performance by the Compass Road Band—a Cedar Rapids-based Buffett tribute group.

Even without the guarantee of a special jersey, some teams are working Buffett nights into their promotional slates. The Daytona Tortugas (Class High A; Florida State League) will feature one on August 28, while the Greenville Astros (Rookie; Appalachia League) are hosting a regional Buffett tribute band for a pre-game concert on August 8.

If Buffett is not for you—or if you can simply only hear “Cheeseburger in Paradise” so many times—there are a few clubs staging a beach jersey giveaway or auction without a Parrott Head tie-in. One of those promotions is just around the corner. On June 27, the Las Vegas 51’s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will hand out a Hawaiian jersey to the first 2,500 fans in attendance at Cashman Field. This giveaway will conclude a two-part beach promotion, as fans who turn out to Friday night’s contest will receive a complimentary beach towel.

Later in the summer, the Tri City ValleyCats (Class Short Season A; New York-Penn League) will host the Philan “tropic” Beach Party. For that promotion—which takes place on August 9—the ValleyCats will don a Hawaiian-shirt themed jersey during the game, which will also feature a variety of other events, including a pre-game catch on the field. Proceeds raised by the jersey auction will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Of all the teams in the minors who deal in summer or Hawaiian-related jerseys, few are more experienced than the San Jose Giants (Class High A; California League). Back in 2007, the Giants established their first annual A Giant Luau to honor their then-manager, former major league infielder and Hawaiian native Lenn Sakata. The promotion—which typically includes theme jerseys, along with special Hawaiian cuisine and a related giveaway—has become one of the Giants’ staples.

This year, the Giants will host the ninth annual A Giant Luau on August 14. As part of this year’s celebrations, the Giants will take the field wearing Hawaiian shirt-themed jerseys and will give out leis to the first 1,000 fans through the gates of Municipal Stadium. In addition, fans who wear their Hawaiian shirts to the ballpark will be given two free tickets for a future Giants’ game. The jerseys worn by the Giants will be available for a post-game auction. Those who enjoy heritage nights might want to consider making a weekend of it in San Jose, as the Giants are hosting an elaborate Italian night—which will include theme jerseys—the next day.

The decision to head to the beach or the ballpark will be weighed by many fans this summer. For those who want a little of both, any of these nights make for a perfect solution. Not only will a night at a minor league game make for a good time, but the incorporation of a beach promotion will combine two of the summer’s best outings. For those who are fortunate enough to work both destinations into their schedules, a jersey from one of these teams will be a unique way to obtain some new beach wear.

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