With the summer collegiate baseball season just around the corner, fans in the Northwoods League can look forward to some good bobbleheads, prints and more. The 18-team circuit features several promotions of note this season, ranging from bobbleheads and gnomes to commemorative prints and much more, which will be covered in this edition of Promotions Watch.
Several Northwoods League teams have established themselves in former minor league markets across the Midwest, and in some cases have brought new life to former professional ballparks. As part of their product, these teams offer promotions that are on the level of their minor league counterparts.
One trend that is plainly evident this year is the honoring of former players. As it continues to progress, the Northwoods League is displaying a notable alumni base in the major leagues, and many teams are tapping into that for promotional opportunities.
Detroit Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann is one of the best players to come out of the Northwoods League, and three teams will take the opportunity to honor him this season. The Battle Creek Bombers and Kalamazoo Growlers will both host bobblehead giveaways, with the Growlers’ promotion slated for June 3 and the Bombers’ following on August 13.
Zimmermann’s former Northwoods League team—the Eau Claire Express—is also planning a giveaway in his honor. On June 15, the Express will hand out Zimmermann garden gnomes. The team has planned giveaways for Zimmermann in the past, including a bobblehead in 2012.
Another notable product of the Northwoods League is Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer. Scherzer will be honored by the La Crosse Loggers with a bobblehead on July 30. The right-hander pitched for the Loggers back in 2004.
The Lakeshore Chinooks are offering bobbleheads for a pair of iconic figures in Milwaukee baseball. A bobblehead of former Milwaukee Brave and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron will be given out on June 4, followed by Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker on June 18.
The Green Bay Bullfrogs will hand out bobbleheads of Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer Don Majowski on May 31. Majowski will be on hand for the promotion, which kicks off the Bullfrogs’ season.
On July 6, the Willmar Stingers will pay homage to their stadium’s namesake with a Bill Taunton bobblehead. An Airforce veteran, Taunton was an advocate for baseball in the community, having served as an umpire for American Legion Baseball.
Besides honoring former players, there are a few instances this year in which Northwoods League squads are depicting mascots or local celeberties in bobblehead or gnome form. In an item that we previously covered, the Rockford Rivets are offering a Cheap Trick bobblehead series through an exclusive ticket package. Cheap Trick, which originated in Rockford, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.
As a play on the hit television series The Walking Dead, the Madison Mallards will feature their mascot in a Balking Dead Maynard bobblehead. That promotion will coincide with a Schwinn family of bikes (4) giveaway.
The Wisconsin River Rafters will feature a Rosco P. Rafter gnome on June 9. Meanwhile the Wisconsin River Rafters will depict their mascot in a series of bobbleheads. It will start with a firefighter theme on June 4, and conclude with a pole vault bobblehead on August 11 as part of Olympic Night.
In a non-bobblehead-related promotion, fans can head to Wade Stadium on July 23, when the Duluth Huskies host Christmas in July. As a gift to get their fans in the holiday spirit, the Huskies will hand out Christmas ornaments.
While it might come months after St. Patrick’s Day, the Waterloo Bucks are planning a celebration for Riverfront Stadium on July 28. For Summertime St. Patty’s Day, fans will receive a free St. Patty’s Day-themed Bucks shirt. That giveaway will be paired with several interesting offerings, including green beer, an Irish fest, and rendition of the Star Spangled Banner as performed on bagpipes.
Turn back the clock nights are a promotional staple across baseball, and one of the most notable entries at any level this season comes from the St. Cloud Rox. On August 11, the Rox will welcome back Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda as they honor the bygone minor league version of the St. Cloud Rox.
The minor league incarnation of the Rox played in St. Cloud from 1946-1971, spending their final season at Municipal Stadium, which is now known as Dick Putz Field. Cepeda was perhaps the most notable player to don a Rox uniform during that period, making his return a perfect fit for this promotion.
As part of the Turn Back the Clock night, the first 400 fans in attendance will receive a commemorative print of Cepeda. His lone season in St. Cloud was 1956.
This season will offer an excellent slate of giveaways in the Northwoods League.