For years, bobbleheads have been promotional staples around Minor League Baseball. This year will be no exception, as bobblehead giveaways are featured on most schedules, with many teams taking unique approaches. This week’s Promotions Watch looks at a few bobblehead nights around the minors, featuring players, local celebrities, movie characters, and more.
There are a few interesting bobbleheads that we have already covered, ranging from the John Stamos that will be given away on Full House night by the Brooklyn Cyclones (Short Season A; NY-Penn League), to anniversary-themed bobbleheads by a pair of Class AA Eastern League teams in the Reading Fightin Phils and the Harrisburg Senators.
Typically, bobbleheads have been a straightforward way to honor a former player or another significant contributor to a minor league franchise. There are many giveaways along those lines this year, but a few that will be noted here. As one of several player bobblehead giveaways, the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A; Midwest League) will recognize Joe Maddon—the current Chicago Cubs manager who played for the Quad Cities Angels back in 1976—on August 6.
Though he is no longer with the parent club San Diego Padres, the El Paso Chihuahuas (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will honor fan favorite Cody Decker with a bobblehead on June 15. Meanwhile, the Inland Empire 66ers (High A; California League) will give out a Ken Griffey Jr. Hall of Fame bobblehead on July 30. Griffey, who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, played for the Inland Empire franchise in 1988, when it was known as the San Bernardino Spirit.
As they return to the Beloit Brewers for one night, the Beloit Snappers (Low A; Midwest League) will hand out Greg Vaughn bobbleheads on July 24. In a similar vein, the San Jose Giants (High A; California League) will honor George Brett and the San Jose Bees on June 18.
The Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), meanwhile, will give out Barry Zito bobbleheads for the August 29 edition of Major League Monday, which will feature an appearance by Zito. Player appearances and bobblehead giveaways also coincide on the West Michigan Whitecaps’ (Low A; Midwest League) promotion schedule, which includes nights for Joel Zumaya on July 8, Mickey Lolich on August 12, and Lloyd Mosby on September 2. Those promotions are part of Tiger Fridays, which will feature player appearances and giveaways throughout the season.
Some teams, however, are taking different approaches to their bobblehead giveaways. One example is local and regional celebrities. The Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will continue their annual Texas Legends series when they hand out 2,500 George Strait bobbleheads on July 14.
A pair of fighters will also be honored by their hometown teams. Boxer Larry Holmes, who hails from Easton, PA, will be recognized by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Class AAA; International League) on May 3. On April 16, the Albuquerque Isotopes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will host Holly Holm Night. The tribute to the UFC fighter and Albuquerque native will be complete with special on-field jerseys, as well bobbleheads for the first 3,000 fans in attendance.
The Trenton Thunder (Class AA; Eastern League) will hand out bobbleheads of hot-dog eating champion Joey Chestnut. Chestnut, who from 2007 to 2014 won eight consecutive Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contests, will be recognized as part of Pork Roll Day at Arm & Hammer Park on August 12.
Another trend that is unfolding this year is movie characters. While some teams are integrating bobblehead giveaways as part of a theme night, other clubs have made it an annual tradition.
The Akron RubberDucks (Class AA; Eastern League) will once again honor the film Major League, this time by giving away Willie Mays Hayes bobblelegs on June 25. Over the past few years, the RubberDucks have held tributes to Major League—which depicts a fictionalized version of their parent club, the Cleveland Indians—with Willy Mays Hayes joining Pedro Cerrano and Jake Taylor among the characters to be featured in past giveaways.
With Happy Gilmore celebrating its 20th anniversary, actor Christopher McDonald will be making the rounds at minor league parks this year. In a few cases, teams will be giving away Shooter McGavin bobbleheads to coincide with his appearance. The Frederick Keys (High A; Carolina League) will do so on June 18, while the RubberDucks will have a Shooter McGavin bobblehead of their own on May 28.
Of course, the bobblehead slate this year does not completely overlook the players, and a few teams have decided to do twists on the typical player bobblehead. This season, look for players who are depicted as a character of a particular film series, or a play on that player’s nickname.
Among the affiliates of the World Champion Kansas City Royals, there a few interesting player bobbleheads to watch. The Omaha Storm Chasers will recognize Mike Moustakas with a Bobble-Antler giveaway on April 23. On August 20, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Class AA; Texas League) will their own version of the giveaway. Moustakas, who spent time with both franchises in the minors, is a fan favorite in Kansas City, to the point that moose antlers are common headwear around Kaufman Stadium. In fact, one fan attracted some media coverage during the 2014 playoffs by sporting 47” antlers at game.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks (High A; Carolina League) will recognize Yordano Ventura with a bobblehead on June 30. The hard-throwing Ventura’s right arm will be engulfed in flames on the bobblehead.
For Out of this World Night on May 20, the Altoona Curve (Class AA; Eastern League) will hand out 1,500 Andrew McCutchen Astronaut Bobblebodies. In a few other instances, teams will be doing twists on traditional player bobbleheads to recognize theme nights, including the Charlotte Knights (Class AAA; International League) with a Matt Davidson Jedi bobblehead for Star Wars night on May 3 and the Bowie Baysox (Class AA; Eastern League) with a “Mannyion” Manny Machado bobblehead for Minons Day on August 7.
As a tease for a future post, we will close on presidential-themed bobbleheads. While we can expect more election-inspired promotions over the coming months, there are a few bobbleheads to mark on the calendar. The Bobblections are already scheduled by a few teams, including the Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League) on August 23, the Fort Myers Miracle (High A; Florida League) on August 25, and the Hickory Crawdads (Low A; Sally League) on September 2. The Lake County Captains (Low A; Midwest League) will honor a former president and Ohio native when they hand out James Garfield bobbleheads on July 17, which caps Election Weekend at Classic Park.