In just a few weeks, Minor League Baseball’s short season leagues will begin their campaigns, prompting another round of interesting promotions. This summer will be particularly strong when it comes to theme nights, as teams are rolling out creative movie and TV show tributes, holiday celebrations, and more. This edition of Promotions Watch highlights some of the notable promotions in the New-York Penn, Northwest, Appalachian, and Pioneer leagues.
While there are many unique promotions to note this year, there are a few crowd pleasers that are making their returns in 2016. The Mega Candy Drop will be offered by a pair of teams this summer, as the Batavia Muckdogs (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will stage the promotion on July 31. That will be followed on August 7 by another drop from the Billings Mustangs (Rookie; Pioneer League), who are owned by Main Street Baseball, the group that first started the promotion with the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A; Midwest League) in 2009.
The Lowell Spinners (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will bring back Jimmy Buffet night on August 4. Last year, the Spinners went all out for the promotion, outfitting their players in Parrothead jerseys.
Continuing their popular throwback night, the Connecticut Tigers (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will once again take the field Norwich Navigators uniforms on August 26. The Navigators were a Class AA Eastern League franchise that played at Dodd Stadium from 1995-2005, before becoming the Connecticut Defenders for four seasons and eventually moving to Richmond.
The Tigers will not be alone in hosting a throwback night. On July 28, the Hillsboro Hops (Short Season A; Northwest League) will honor the Portland Beavers of 1956. A limited number of the jerseys will be available in a post-game auction.
When it comes to baseball history, the Vancouver Canadians (Short Season A; Northwest League) offer the Superstar Series. This year’s Superstar Series will feature appearances by four former major league players, starting with Mike Cameron on June 22, followed on later dates by Jack Morris, Dave Stieb, and J.T. Snow. Each appearance will coincide with a baseball card giveaway for the first 1,000 fans in attendance.
While throwback nights are an excellent nod to baseball’s past, there is one promotion that is heavily focused on present trends in baseball statistics. The Staten Island Yankees (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will host Sabermetics Day on June 19. As part of the promotion, the Yankees will host analysists from a variety of websites—including FanGraphs and Sports Illustrated—for a picnic, as well as a VIP panel session. Fans can access one or both events through a special ticket package, though the VIP access plan is sold out.
When it comes to pop culture trends, TV theme nights are a major part of this summer’s promotional offerings. One promotion we covered back in March is the Brooklyn Cyclones’ (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) Fuller House. On July 9, the Cyclones will stage an elaborate tribute to Full House, with a John Stamos “real hair” bobblehead and specialty jersey highlighting the event.
Another TV tribute comes from the Tri-City Valley Cats (Short Season A; NY-Penn League), who will don Spongebob Squarepants jerseys on July 25. That will be a part of Nickelodeon Night at the ballpark, which will include an appearance by Spongebob.
As far as film tributes go, there are some interesting promotions to note. The Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will offer a twist on the traditional mascot birthday celebration when they host Ferrous’ BirthDAY Off on September 4. Along with a party for the Ferrous, the IronBirds will pay tribute to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
With a new Ghostbusters set to be released this summer, it is a good time for the West Virginia Black Bears (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) to pay tribute to the film series. On July 16, the Black Bears will celebrate Ghostbusters with a specialty jersey, as well as other offerings.
Mid-summer Christmas-themed promotions continue to be popular, and some teams will be taking creative steps this year. On June 24—exactly six months before Christmas Eve—the Missoula Osprey (Rookie; Pioneer League) will don not-so-ugly Christmas sweater jerseys, which will be auctioned off to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities. The promotion also includes a post-game fireworks display.
The Hudson Valley Renegades (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will offer their spin on the promotion on July 24, as they host the Christmas Eve Sleepover. That will kick off a two-day celebration that includes a stocking giveaway on the 24th, followed the next night by a Rascal-on-the-shelf giveaway.
On July 25, the Pulaski Yankees (Rookie; Appalachian League) will feature a Christmas in July promotion that offers discounted admission for anyone wearing red or green shirts, or Christmas attire. The team will also make a limited edition Christmas in July t-shirt available for $16.99.
Social media nights continue to inspire creative jerseys, as the Burlington Royals (Rookie; Appalachian League) will become the latest team to don an emoji jersey. For an entire weekend, the Royals will wear these emoji uniforms, while fans will be encouraged to interact via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. The promotion runs from July 28-30.
Fans of Prince can look forward to a tribute to the late music icon on July 10, when the Eugene Emeralds (Short Season A; Northwest League) host Purple Rain Night. Complete with a Purple Rain-themed jersey, this promotion will also include several homages to Prince.
For the last several years, minor league teams have become increasingly involved in the fight against cancer and other illnesses by hosting awareness nights. For their part, the Vermont Lake Monsters (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will take a unique step when they host the Game of Hope on July 8.
Following a pattern that has been seen elsewhere in the minors over the last few seasons, the Lake Monsters are opting to wear and auction off a specialty jersey that features the names of cancer survivors. For $25, fans could submit a name that would be printed onto that night’s jersey and receive one game ticket, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society New England Division. The Lake Monsters accepted up to 50 names for the uniforms through May 27.
With these theme nights, fans have plenty to look forward to over the coming months.
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