Independence Day weekend is a busy time at the gate for Minor League Baseball teams, and many are rolling out creative giveaways to amplify the ballpark experience. This edition of Promotions Watch looks at some of the items fans can expect to receive at the ballpark this weekend, ranging from patriotic apparel to bobbleheads and more.
In a typical season, it seems that many high-profile promotions—both of the annual and first-time variety—are staged around the holiday weekend. That has been the case in 2016, as Fourth of July weekend marks the return of MiLB’s Stars and Stripes Caps, which will be worn by 128 different teams and be made available for purchase to benefit Welcome Back Veterans.
This weekend also features high-profile promotions that stand out separate from the Fourth of July, including events we have covered previously. Such examples include the unique Red, White, and Due from the Visalia Rawhide (High A; California League) and Seinfeld Night 3 from the Brooklyn Cyclones (Short Season A; NY-Penn League).
Of the remaining offerings, there are some clear trends emerging, with perhaps the most prominent being patriotic hats. The San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League) will feature the item on July 1, and a variety of teams will stage the giveaway the following day, including the Louisville Bats (Class AAA; International League), Corpus Christi Hooks (Class AA; Texas League), and the Jacksonville Suns (Class AA; Southern League), who will hand out bucket caps. There will also be a patriotic cap from the Lake County Captains (Low A; Midwest League) on July 3.
Those looking for a good pair of shades will have some options. The Binghamton Mets (Class AA; Eastern League) are handing out patriotic sunglasses on July 1, and the Bradenton Marauders (High A; Florida State League) will follow their own pair on July 2, with another on the docket two days later from the Grand Junction Rockies (Rookie; Pioneer League.
Also on tap are a variety of patriotic jerseys and t-shirts. The Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) will hand out adult jerseys on July 2, when the team will take the field in its Fourth of July uniform. (The hat for which is pictured above.) Both the Everett AquaSox (Short Season A; Northwest League) and the Inland Empire 66ers (High A; California League) have t-shirt giveaways on tap, with the AquaSox’s slated for the fourth and the 66ers set to extend the fun beyond the weekend with a patriotic shirt on July 5.
There are other items, aside from the apparel, that reflect the holiday. In a promotion that is simple, yet clever and appropriate, the Connecticut Tigers (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will hand out apple pie on July 4. The first 500 fans through the gates of Dodd Stadium will receive a complimentary slice. In another Independence Day entry, fans can look forward to a patriotic-themed baseball from the Billings Mustangs (Rookie; Pioneer League).
Fourth of July weekend giveaways also extend beyond the patriotic themes. The Beloit Snappers (Low A; Midwest League) will host another promotion that celebrates their 35th season, as they are handing out can koozies on July 2. On July 1, the Boise Hawks (Short Season A; Northwest League) will give away bucket caps.
Two affiliates of the Kansas City Royals will be taking the opportunity to honor their parent club. On July 1, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (High A; Carolina League) will hand out a canvas print that features former Blue Rocks who were members of the Royals’ World Series-winning squad from last year. The Idaho Falls Chukars (Rookie; Pioneer League) will be giving away a Royals jersey on July 2. On Independence Day, the Chukars will have more promotions in store as they hand out a team photo and a pennant.
As part of Superhero Day on July 3, Hudson Valley Renegades (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will hand out a jersey that features their mascot, Rascal. In another unique promotion, the Indianapolis Indians (Class AAA; International League) will be giving away 12,500 rally towels available on Independence Day.
One item that will be particularly prominent this weekend is the bobblehead, as many teams have lined up these giveaways. The Hagerstown Suns (Low A; Sally League) will hand out Lucas Giolito bobbleheads on July 2. While the date of the promotion was announced before the season, the timing works out incredibly well for the Suns, as Giolito just made his major league debut with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.
The Suns will not be the only team taking the chance to honor a former member of their team. The Arkansas Travelers (Class AA; Texas League) will give out Garrett Richards bobbleheads on July 2, while the Staten Island Yankees (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) have a giveaway featuring Greg Bird on July 1.
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (High A; California League) will honor Fernando Valenzuela with a bobblehead on July 2. Before becoming a sensation with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981, Valenzuela pitched three games for the Lodi Dodgers—the franchise that eventually became the Quakes—back in 1978.
The Lexington Legends (Low A; Sally League) will give out bobbleheads of Anderson Miller on July 1. Miller, a Lexington native and current Legend, will be depicted in a Legends jersey on the bobblehead, which will feature a helmet from Western Kentucky University—his alma mater—and the pants of his high school baseball team, Lafayette High School.
On July 2, the Williamsport Crosscutters (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) will give away Rhashan bobbleheads. A staple around the ballpark for years, Rhashan is the team’s current director of smiles.
One last giveaway to highlight comes from the Fort Myers Miracle (High A; Florida State League), who have taken a unique step to honor former Miracle and current Minnesota Twin Miguel Sano. On July 2, the Miracle will give a Miguel-Sano Globe—a snow globe that features Sano—to the first 500 fans in attendance.
With these giveaways and plenty of other options in store, the Fourth of July week will be abuzz across the minor league landscape. In fact, with many unique promotions on tap over the coming weeks—one team, the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will actually host separate events next week that celebrate Independence Day and Christmas—the event calendar around the minors is only heating up.