Minor League Baseball Top Five, Dead Or Alive: The Weirdest Minor League Baseball Promotions Of The Century
Welcome to the latest installment in the new era of Top 5 Dead Or Alive. Each week, we’ll ask one of our writers to come up with a definitive list of the five best people, places or things in a particularly subjective category — then, we’ll ask you to tell him who or what is missing from the list. Feel free to be a total dick.
Today, Rick Chandler examines the best Minor League Baseball promotions of all time, then winnows the list to a top five. It wasn’t easy. Tell him what he missed in the comments.
Picking the Top Five Best Minor League Baseball Promotions is an impossible task. How does one define “best”? The Saint Paul Saints once had a Sen. Larry Craig Bobblefoot Day, in which they gave out little statues of a restroom stall, with Craig’s foot underneath, bobbling. If you’re
not familiar with that story, here you go.
There’s also been Redneck Olympics (West Virginia Power) and The World’s Worst Music Night … it’s all subjective. But one thing I can do is pick the
Top Five Weirdest Minor League Baseball Promotions. Because they’re all the weirdest to me. And if I think it’s weird, brother, it’s out there.
1.5. Van Down By The River (Quad City River Bandits)
The Chris Farley
Saturday Night Live sketch came to life one night in 2009, when the Midwest League Single-A Houston Astros affiliate in Davenport, Iowa actually bought an old van for $500 and parked it down by the (Mississippi) River. From the team's web site:
The Van Down by the River will be parked on the right field berm. At the start of each game, the Bandits will make a donation to a new fund called the "Jack Squat Jackpot" in honor of Chris Farley's famous skit. If a River Bandits player hits the van with a home run ball, those sitting in the van will receive half the money in the jackpot while the other half will be donated to charity.
2.4. Michael Vick Welcome To The Neighborhood Night (Kansas City T-Bones)
Vick (inmate No. 33765-183) spent a large portion of his 23-month sentence for dogfighting at Leavenworth in Kansas, which is only about 17 miles from the T-Bones' stadium (Independent Northern League). And so in April, 2008, Michael Vick Welcome to the Neighborhood Night was born. Featured would be the T-Bones wearing black and white striped jerseys, and the visiting Gary SouthShore RailCats wearing bright orange jumpsuit replica jerseys.
The promotion is noted for having drawn complaints from both the NAACP
and at least one animal rights group. Only four days after it was announced, sadly, the event was canceled.
3.3. Get A Back Massage From A Real Catholic Nun (St. Paul Saints)
The Saints (American Association of Independent Professional Baseball) are part-owned by comedian Bill Murray, and promotions are directed by Mike Veeck, son of legendary White Sox owner and promoter Bill Veeck. Among the team's past promotions have been Love Boat Night, commemorating the Minnesota Vikings infamous love boat sex cruise on Lake Minnetonka; and Randy Moss Hood Ornament Night.
Also, Midway Stadium is the only ballpark in America where one can get a professional massage from a real Catholic nun. Pictured here is Sister Rosalind, who has
been offering massage therapy to fans at Saints games since 1993 ($8 per ten minutes. Please form an orderly line).
4.2. Awful Night (Altoona Curve)
The Double-A Eastern League Pittsburgh Pirates' affiliate have made Awful Night an annual tradition, where many, many awful things -- among them bottomless cups, music from David Hasselhoff and a Dry Water Slide Contest -- have been featured. But the most notorious had to be the 2006 edition, which was described thusly:
"The Curve will stage 'awful' competitions all night, including dunking for onions, the dead fish slingshot catch and autograph sessions with non-celebrities. This year, the first 1,000 fans will receive a photo of General Manager Todd Parnell's gall bladder, and one lucky fan will actually win the real thing. That is not a joke."
5.1. Man Shot Out Of A Cannon For A Home Run (Lowell Spinners)
How many times have you attended a Minor League Baseball game, but went home dissatisfied because no one was shot out of a cannon? The Lowell Spinners (Single-A, New York-Penn League Boston Red Sox affiliate) rectified that on July 5, 2011, when they accomplished the first-ever human home run.
A cannon was placed at home plate and loaded with David Smith, Jr., who has been shot from artillery more than 500 times in his career. But this time he was aimed at the center-field fence, and sent rocketing completely out of LeLacheur Park. I'm still not sure what he landed on … let’s just say a huge pile of hot dog buns.