Now that the independent baseball season is underway, more promotions are popping up across the baseball landscape. To provide a full overview, Promotions Watch is taking a two-part look at the best events in independent baseball, concluding with today’s look at theme nights and special appearances.
On Friday, we did an overview of the notable giveaways that will take place this season. While that was a fairly busy slate, theme nights and appearances look to be a major trend this year.
Starting with a promotion that will take place this week, the Lancaster Barnstormers (Atlantic League) are welcoming Chubby Checker on April 28. He will be on hand as the Barnstormers try to break the record for the number of people dancing to The Twist. Currently, the record of 3,040 participants is held by the Mississippi Braves (Class AA; Southern League).
The River City Rascals (Frontier League) will welcome a pair of notable St. Louis Cardinals on separate nights. Up first will be Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, who will be stopping by CarShield Field on May 21. On June 25, the Rascals will welcome 2005 Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter.
Speaking of former Cardinals, Willie McGee will be appearing at the Gateway Grizzlies’ (Frontier League) GCS Ballpark on May 13. That evening will also mark the Grizzlies’ regular season opener, and will be capped by a post-game fireworks show.
Prior to their game on June 12, the Kansas City T-Bones (American Association) will host a pre-game clinic featuring first base coach and former Kansas City Royals second baseman Frank White. The camp is open to children age 6-15, and will include a meet-and-greet session. Following the game, kids will be able to run the bases.
As part of their induction ceremony for the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame, the St. Paul Saints (American Association) will welcome two special guests on August 12, as Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor are expected to appear at CHS Field. Not only are Winfield and Molitor Hall of Famers, but both are natives of St. Paul and are a part of the University of Minnesota alumni.
The Bridgeport Bluefish (Atlantic League) are continuing their annual tradition of hosting guest managers with two special appearances this year. Jennie Finch will serve in that capacity on May 29, while Roger Clemens will assume the role on August 5.
On the nights of their respective appearances, Finch and Clemens will participate in pre-game meet and greets, before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and assisting in the Bluefish’s dugout throughout the game. The cost of meet and greet packages vary—$45 for Finch and $75 for Clemens—while season ticket and bobblehead mini-plan holders will receive a Clemens bobblehead.
Appearances are a big part of the independent league promotional slate this year, but a few teams are taking different routes by hosting theme nights. Some of the theme nights to expect this year include baseball staples such as Christmas in July, as well as a few movie tributes.
On July 22, the Wichita Wingnuts (American Association) will get a head start on the holiday season with their Christmas in July celebration. As part of the promotion, the Wingnuts will take the field in ugly sweater jerseys, which will be auctioned off following the game. The evening will also include a post-game fireworks show.
The York Revolution (Atlantic League) will host their own Christmas in July on July 25. Along with a post-game jersey auction, the Revolution will accept donations for Toys for Tots and stage a teddy bear toss. The toss—which will let teddy bears and stuffed animals fly onto the field—will take place after the Revolution score their first run of the game.
Star Wars nights have become very common around baseball, as they have spread from minor and independent league baseball all the way to the majors. The promotion will be seen around the independent leagues this year, and the Rockland Boulders (Can-Am League) have already released a few details about what should be a fairly extravagant tribute.
The Boulders will celebrate Star Wars on August 12 in a promotion that will include a light saber giveaway, as well as a specialty jersey for the players and coaches. Proceeds from the post-game auction for the Star Wars-themed uniform will benefit the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center.
One last theme night to highlight comes from the Gary SouthShore RailCats (American Association), who are paying tribute to the 30th anniversary of Top Gun. Along with decking the team out in Top Gun-themed jerseys that will resemble the flight suits from the film, the RailCats will stage a variety of promotions and special discounts for fans, including free admission for any fan born in the year 1986.
In addition, there will also be a special pair of RailCats aviator sunglasses for the first 500 fans in attendance. Proceeds from the post-game jersey auction will benefit Hobart Jaycees.