NO ONE SEES minor league promotions from a higher perch than Ben Hill, who makes his entries at
Writing since 2005, he began assembling a list of his top 10 weekly promotions a year later and started blogging late last year. By now, he says,
a lot of teams seek him out to pitch their events. And then there are teams such as Reading, the Phillies' Double A affiliate, that he just has bookmarked. "They might be one of the best teams in all of minor league baseball [for their] game presentations, just in terms of how much they pack in."
Trends? Well, bobbleheads are heading south after peaking a few years ago. Prices for tickets and food linked to the price of gas are gaining momentum. Fireworks, he adds, are out of control. "It's crazy," he says. "It used to be fireworks nights were special. Now you look at a promotional schedule and it's highlighted 'by our 32 fireworks nights.' "
Hockey's done. School's all but, so we asked Hill for his list of this summer's best promotions:
* Stephen Gostkowski appearance (Lowell Spinners, June 22) - The Pats' placekicker will boot footballs into the crowd throughout the game.
* Kevin Costner concert (Durham Bulls, July 4) - The actor is returning to play a show at the stadium he helped to make famous in Bull Durham.
* Second Amendment Night (Fresno Grizzlies,
July 18) - Featuring a foam claw giveaway (get it? The right to "bear" arms).
* Tattered Jersey Giveaway (Lancaster, Calif., JetHawks, July 26) - In honor of the construction worker who buried the David Ortiz jersey in the Yankee's new stadium.
* In early August, at least three clubs (Hudson
Valley, Charleston, and Fort Myers) are staging
"Bobblection." Fans will choose between an Obama and a McCain bobblehead, and these "vote" totals are announced later in the ballgame.
And leave it to Altoona to plan a promotion that will never happen. Crowed the headline on its news release: "Curve Puts Off Procrastination Night." *
- Paul Vigna
Comments on NFL 17-game schedule at go.philly.com/nflsked