Commentary

Baseball's best stunts (Pt. 2, continued)

Updated: May 5, 2010, 2:35 AM ET
By Josh Pahigian | Special to ESPN SportsTravel

Holly MadisonHarry How/Getty ImagesHolly Madison's bobblehead will portray her in the "Little Bo Peep" outfit from her Las Vegas show.
• Photo gallery: The best ballpark giveaways

Cereal bowl

June 10 (first 1,000 fans)
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Fox Cities Stadium
2400 N. Casaloma Drive
Appleton, WI 54912
920-733-4152 | Website

You have to hand it to the Timber Rattlers; they sure know where their state's bread is buttered.

On "Salute to Cows Night," the Rattlers celebrate Wisconsin's contributions to the dairy industry, bringing show cows to Fox Cities Stadium, serving cheese samples and entertaining fans with dairy trivia. And the team offers a present sure to put a smile on any cereal-slurping fan's face when he or she sits down to breakfast during the chilly winter months to be reminded of warmer times at the local park.

Take us out to the ballpark

For a gallery of images of some of the fan-participation promos that we've selected, click here.

Did we miss a great promotional stunt for a minor league team? Tell us about it.

Soccer balls

June 12 (first 1,000 fans)
Kinston Indians
Grainger Stadium
400 E. Grainger Ave.
Kinston, NC 28501
252-527-9111 | Website

Should professional baseball be concerned that the Beautiful Game might gradually overtake America's Game as the preferred sport of our nation's youth? Maybe. Maybe not.

But when teams start handing out soccer balls at baseball parks to lure fans to their games, well, that seems like it ought to be interpreted as cause for concern.

Golf umbrella

June 20 (first 1,000 in the house)
Wilmington Blue Rocks
Frawley Stadium
801 Shipyard Drive
Wilmington, DE 19801
302-888-2015 | Website

This Carolina League franchise pays tribute to the local sportsmen who find themselves fascinated by that "other" white ball on the sporting landscape. Hey, if Dad takes the kids to the ballpark on Father's Day, he deserves a little something special, doesn't he? And if the kids take him, then he gets a keepsake to remember the occasion.

Ballpark snow globe

June 25 (first 2,000 fans)
Arkansas Travelers
Dickey-Stephens Park
400 W. Broadway
North Little Rock, AR 72114
501-664-1555 | Website

A typical winter in North Little Rock brings just about five inches of snow. So what was the Arkansas brain trust thinking when it conceived of a ballpark snow globe giveaway, you wonder?

As Travelers general manager Pete Laven explains, the stroke of genius was actually inspired by the local environment, not in spite of it. And, believe it or not, it makes perfect sense.

"Here at our ballpark the 'snow' starts in May or June," Laven said. "We have quite a few cottonwoods in the area, and the cotton blows off the trees and into the park. The way it swirls makes the park look almost like a giant snow globe."

Adding to this unusual handout's appeal is its attention to detail. It depicts, in miniature, Dickey-Stephens Park's signature main entrance and clock tower. And it sits upon a base that looks like half a baseball.

Wiffle bat and ball

June 25 (first 1,000, ages 12 and younger)
Charlotte Knights
Knights Stadium
2280 Deerfield Drive
Fort Mills, SC 29715
803-548-8050 | Website

The yellow plastic bat and white, perforated ball have been wowing kids (and adults) since the 1950s. And they can coexist with baseball, even if some Little League coaches persist in saying that too many plastic swings will ruin a hitter's timing when it comes time to tote aluminum or wooden bats.

School's out, the sun's shining, and the Knights are offering a giveaway sure to provide hours of summer fun.

Barbecue apron

July 2 (first 1,000 fans)
Lowell Spinners
LeLacheur Park
450 Aiken St.
Lowell, MA 01854
978-459-2255 | Website

With the Fourth of July just two days away, the Spinners present a ballpark giveaway guaranteed to be a hit at the backyard barbecue. And there's no need to fret if you miss out on this snazzy Spinners apron. There's still time to trek to Reno, Nev., where on July 5 the Pacific Coast League's Aces will dole out barbecue utensils.

Egg timer

July 8 (First 2,000, ages 18 and older)
Lakewood BlueClaws
FirstEnergy Park
Two Stadium Way
Lakewood, NJ 08701
732-901-7000 | Website

This is the kitchen accessory for the diehard BlueClaws fan who finds himself recurrently overcooking his eggs while poring through the pages of the Asbury Park Press for the latest news on the team.

Cold, hard cash

July 17 (first 2,500 fans)
Fresno Grizzlies
Chukchansi Park
1800 Tulare St.
Fresno, CA 93721
559-320-4487 | Website

On this night, sponsored by Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino, the experience of passing through the turnstiles becomes a game of chance. The earliest-arriving 2,500 Grizzlies rooters receive envelopes containing anywhere from $1 to $1,000 in cash. In all, $7,500 will be handed out.

Joe Biden bobblehead

July 29 (first 1,000 fans)
Wilmington Blue Rocks
Frawley Stadium
801 Shipyard Drive
Wilmington, DE 19801
302-888-2015 | Website

During the 2008 presidential campaign, voters across the country learned what residents of Delaware had known all along: Although his neighbors sent him to Washington a long time ago, Joe Biden never lost touch with his Wilmington roots. In fact, when he was a U.S. senator, Biden returned home each night via the local Amtrak line.

Now, for the second year in a row, the Blue Rocks honor the veep with a bobblehead. Biden wasn't able to attend last year's "Biden Tribute Night," but the Blue Rocks are hoping he'll make it this time around. He last attended Frawley Stadium in 2008, when he and his wife, Jill, helped the Blue Rocks raise awareness for Boots on the Ground, a local nonprofit effort that assists military members and their families.

As for the Biden bobble, it depicts the vice president wearing a Blue Rocks jersey with, appropriately, No. 2 on the back.

"There was a great buzz that surrounded last year's event and there will surely be again this year," Blue Rocks spokesman Kevin Linton said. "It seems everyone wants one."

Magic answer ball

Aug. 2 (first 2,500 through the gates)
Sacramento River Cats
Raley Field
400 Ballpark Drive
West Sacramento, CA 95691
916-371-4487 | Website

Will the River Cats defeat their Pacific Coast League rivals, the Las Vegas 51s, on this night? Will the Cats make the playoffs? Will the concession stands run out of hot dogs on what is not only "Do You Believe in Magic Night" at Raley Field but also "Seniors Eat Free Night"?

Fans who just have to know the answers to these and other burning questions won't have to wait to know. They need only give their complimentary magic answer ball a shake.

Ryan Howard garden gnome

Aug. 3 (first 2,500 adults)
Reading Phillies
FirstEnergy Stadium
1900 Centre Ave./Route 61 South
Reading, PA 19605
610-375-8469 | Website

While Ryan Howard is an anything-but-gnomish slugger, a gnome is supposed to guard the Earth's treasure. And considering Howard's new contract extension is worth a tidy $125 million over five years, we know what trove his gnome will be protecting through 2017.

The gnome giveaway is a tribute to Howard and his breakout 2004 campaign, which began in Reading and ended in Philadelphia.

Howard played the first 102 games that year for the Double-A Phillies, batting .297 with 37 HR and 102 RBI. Then he jumped to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before finishing in the big leagues with Philadelphia. In all, Howard hit 48 long balls at the three stops that year.

Chest protector backpack

Aug. 8 (first 1,000 kids)
Omaha Royals
Rosenblatt Stadium
1202 Bert Murphy Ave.
Omaha, NE 68107
402-734-2550 | Website

Something tells us the coolest kids in school in Omaha in 2010 aren't going to be the ones wearing the latest designer threads or too-cool-for-school sneakers. They're going to be the 1,000 lucky tykes who score these backpacks, which are designed to look like catchers' chest protectors. (Safety note: Not intended for use as an actual chest protector. Well, maybe for Wiffle ball, but really, wouldn't you rather use a kitchen chair?)

Roy Williams bobblehead

Aug. 21 (first 1,000 fans)
Asheville Tourists
McCormick Field
30 Buchanan Place
Asheville, NC 28801
828-258-0428 | Website

Sports enthusiasts will, of course, still be transfixed by the goings-on at America's green cathedrals as the dog days arrive. But in North Carolina, thoughts will surely be turning to the heroes of the hardwood who fill the winter months with delight. It should then come as no surprise that UNC hoops guru Roy Williams, whose Tar Heels play 200 miles east in Chapel Hill, is to be honored with a ballpark bobble.

Bathroom plunger

Aug. 24 (to the first 1,000 perhaps not-so-toilet-trained fans)
Binghamton Mets
NYSEG Stadium
211 Henry St.
Binghamton, NY 13901
607-723-6387 | Website

Whether or not your team stinks, wouldn't you like to have a B-Mets plunger beside your toilet just in case? This useful bathroom accoutrement is to be delivered amidst the excitement of a night being billed as "Toilet Tuesday."

Aside from the quirky giveaway, the evening will feature between-inning contests such as "Musical Toilets" (instead of musical chairs) and "Hillbilly Horseshoes" (with plungers serving as stakes and toilet seats flying through the air).

"We were looking for a way to pump up a game and came up with a tribute to toilets," B-Mets spokesman Connor Gates said. "We figured it was so different, we decided to go with it. We even found a local plumbing business to sponsor the night."

Holly Madison bobblehead

Aug. 24 (first 2,000 fans)
Las Vegas 51s
Cashman Field
850 Las Vegas Blvd. North
Las Vegas, NV 89101
702-386-7200 | Website

When popular Vegas showgirl Holly Madison turned out at Cashman Field to throw a ceremonial first pitch in 2009, fans went wild. This year, Madison returns as part of the 51s' "Bobble Tuesday" series. The first Madison bobble (April 13) depicts her in a 51s uniform, while this second one portrays her in the "Little Bo Peep" outfit from her show.

Canvas art

Aug. 25 (first 1,000 attendees)
Toledo Mud Hens
Fifth Third Field
406 Washington St.
Toledo, OH 43604
419-725-4367 | Website

This end-of-season parting gift is the perfect keepsake for the fan never so content as when he or she is sitting at the ballpark, gazing at the field. Hang it on your living-room wall, and this beautiful watercolor of Fifth Third Field makes it just a bit easier to imagine you're at the park, instead of sitting in your easy chair counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report.

Josh Pahigian is the author of seven baseball books, including the recently released
"The Seventh Inning Stretch" and "101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out."

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