With the baseball season winding down, teams around the minors are rewarding the support of their fans through Fan Appreciation Days. In the penultimate Promotions Watch of 2015, we round up some of the most notable entries around Minor League Baseball for this staple—which includes special autograph sessions, fireworks, giveaways, and even appreciation weekends.
At all levels of baseball, teams take the opportunity to extend a thanks to their fans. In most cases, Fan Appreciation Days are highlighted by special giveaways, discounts, and other events that give fans one last reward before the season concludes. This feature will include some of the more interesting elements of this year’s slate.
In one of the earliest fan appreciation days around the minors, the South Bend Cubs (Low A; Midwest League) will hand out a free bobblehead to the first 750 fans at Four Winds Field on August 22. The bobblehead is former South Bend Silver Hawks player and current Chicago Cub Miguel Montero, and, the night is packed—it will also feature a post-game firework show, a Barefoot Wine tasting, and a flat screen giveaway. Of course, this night is enhanced by the Cubs’ success this season, as they have set several attendance records under their new moniker.
During the season’s final week, two Florida-based teams will be handing out noteworthy items. The Tampa Yankees (High A; Florida State League) will make a Brett Gardner bobble leg available to the first 500 fans through the gates of Steinbrenner Field on September 5, while the Clearwater Threshers (High A; Florida State League) will give away Rufus bobbleheads on September 4. Rufus is a character in the film Dolphin Tale that was played by Rickey and Lucy, a pair of pelicans residing at Clearwater’s Marine Aquarium. Both Tampa and Clearwater will have post-game events, featuring fireworks and a concert respectively.
To complete the Sunshine State perfecta, fans can head over to the Jacksonville Suns (Class AA; Southern League) game on September 6, which will feature a BirdZerk appearance and a post-game fireworks show.
Another visible trend across the Fan Appreciation Day slate is autograph sessions. Fans heading to Dell Diamond on September 6 will be in for a special surprise, as the Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) are giving out 1,000 mystery photos. The pictures will be signed by a player in the farm system of the Express’ parent club, the Texas Rangers.
Out west, the Sacramento River Cats (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will have a similar prize in store. Players will be available for autographs inside the gates of Raley Field in a fan appreciation day that will be paired with one of the River Cats’ staples, K-LOVE Sunday Funday. This weekly promotion features several family-friendly activities, including balloon art, face painting, and a post-game kids run the bases.
While bobbleheads and autographs always make for nice giveaways, one team is upping the ante by giving away cash. The Mississippi Braves (Class AA; Southern League) will be doing that on August 29, when they host the $10,000 Dash for Cash.
The Dash for Cash—which the Braves have held every Saturday this season—is essentially a monetary version of the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A; Midwest League) Mega Candy Drop. A select number of fans have 60 seconds to grab as much cash as they can. Fan Appreciation Night at Trustmark Park will also a feature a pre-game concert, post-game fireworks show, and an appearance from the Zooperstars.
Speaking of the River Bandits, they are giving fans in the Quad Cities region two more nights in their honor. In the final installment of their weekly Fan Appreciation Saturday promotion, the River Bandits will hand out 1,500 bobbleheads of Houston Astros outfielder George Springer on August 29. On September 4, the River Bandits will host a Fan Appreciation Night that includes a post-game firework show.
Beyond the giveaway realm, there are several other Fan Appreciation Nights to keep an eye on. The Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA; International League) will take their annual turn at the event on September 2. While the team has not revealed the full details of this promotion, they have a track record of making it a big night. Last year, the Bisons had giveaways every half inning and staged their second-largest firework show of the year.
In a twist from the traditional Kids the Run Bases promotion, the Brooklyn Cyclones (short season A; NY-Penn League) will allow every fan to run the bases at the conclusion of Fan Appreciation Day on September 7. The Cyclones will also hand out a complementary team photo for the first 2,500 people in attendance.
On September 3, the Akron RubberDucks (Class AA; Eastern League) will close out their home slate with a Fan Appreciation Night that includes Thirsty Thursday specials and a post-game fireworks show. Through the year in Promotions Watch, one of the more interesting events that has not been mentioned is the RubberDucks’ themed firework show. This year the team set every firework show to a particular musician or band—past selections include but are not limited to U2, the Grateful Dead, and Taylor Swift. The final firework show will be set to Led Zepplin, which should end the year with a good set list.
Some teams are expanding their fan appreciation offerings throughout an entire weekend. The Albuquerque Isotopes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will have back-to-back fan appreciation nights over the August 29-30 stretch. In addition to post-game firework shows, fans will have the opportunity to claim free items throughout both of the nights.
The Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low A; Midwest League) will close out the season with their own Fan Appreciation Weekend. On September 5, the TinCaps will host Bucket Ruckus to kick off an action packed weekend that includes back-to-back appearances from Jake the Diamond Dog and two firework shows.
Adding to those promotions is the TinCaps’ giveaway slate, as the team will hand out surprise items throughout the weekend. This will be a good way to close out another great year at Parkview Field, as the TinCaps are once again one of the top-drawing teams in the Midwest League.
The minor league season has flown by and it is hard to believe that the end is near. While it can be tough to walk out of the ballpark one last time before April, Fan Appreciation Days give fans, and their favorite teams, one last celebration as they close out the season.