Minor league baseball is vitally important for MLB. Everyone goes though the minors, and they play a massive role in developing the stars of tomorrow. However, watching those young players is only part of the fun for fans who go to minor league baseball games.
In recent years, promotional events at minor league games have exploded as teams seemingly try to out do each other. From themed promotions like Star Wars or Game of Thrones nights to special bobbleheads, most teams’ schedules are chock full of fun and interesting things to check out.
Yankees affiliates are no exceptions. All six teams in the Yankees’ system have joined in on the fun, so let’s take a look and see what’s on the horizon for 2019.
The big thing for the RailRiders this year is that it’s their 30th anniversary season. They began life in 1989 as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies. As a result, there’s a hefty amount of promotions related to that anniversary.
The big one is their all-time team bobblehead series. They will have nine bobblehead giveaways throughout the season, one for each player on the franchise’s all-time team. As you would imagine, most of them are notable Yankees and Phillies players who suited up for SWB from the past 30 years, such as Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins. However, there’s also Rick Schu.
Schu was a prototypical Quad-A player, putting up a career 92 OPS+ in the majors, but with a strong minor league track record. He’s on the all-time team because he played two full seasons with the then Red Barons from 1991-92, and ran an .890 OPS. You do have to put on one random guy who stuck around the team but never really cracked the majors, as that is a common archetype on a Triple-A roster. As a Scranton-area resident who spent a lot of time going to games there in the late 90’s and early 00’s, I would have preferred Bobby Estalella.
Besides that, there’s a John O’Hurley appearance on July 20th, because why not?
The Thunder’s special Pork Roll jerseys return this season, as Trenton will wear them every Friday home game. However, let’s get to the important one. On May 21st, they will be giving away bobbleheads of their bat dog, Rookie.
There might not be a better giveaway anywhere this season. That’s slight hyperbole, but not by much. Also on July 19th, there’s a Justus Sheffield dressed as a chef bobblehead giveaway, presumably because those were ordered in early November.
A mostly uninteresting year for the Taprons, if I’m being honest (especially after their Randy Savage bobblehead last year). Tampa is mostly going with themed days of the week, like Dog-On Mondays, a bring your dog to the game night, and Taco Thursdays. A bit boring, but a fair enough way to try and get people in the ballpark.
Charleston has already busted out some fun things just a few weeks into the season. They’ve already held a night where anyone in attendance could declare for the NBA Draft.
Other themed nights coming up include July 9th’s “Helen McGuckin Night” where they are trying to make things right with a fan who left them a bad Google review. This coming Tuesday, they’re having “C Night” which is described as such on their website:
Baseball is a game of averages so the RiverDogs will invite their fans to an average night at the yard. Kids who bring in a “C” on their report card get in free and the RiverDogs will wear their alternate C jerseys. Enjoy “C”food specials and meet a C-List celebrity on a night that promises to be perfectly mediocre.
The most interesting item on Staten Island’s promotional schedule is July 19th’s Scooter Workout Bobblehead, which I presume is their mascot, Scooter the Holy Cow, dressed in some sort of workout gear. Other than that, nothing out of the ordinary for SI this year.
On July 13, Pulaski will be holding Agriculture Night 2.0, which, among other things, means they will be wearing “specialty cow jerseys.” That is the funniest detail of their schedule, but there are other things to note. The actor who played Ray Kinsella’s dad in “Field of Dreams” is apparently making the rounds as he will be appearing at a RailRiders and a Pulaski game this season.
Also, Pulaski may have the nicest promotion of anyone. They will having a night dedicated to their groundskeeper, Gary Martin, who is in his 50th year working at their stadium. Among the festivities in his honor is a giveaway of a bobblehead of Martin.
There are plenty of other promotions and giveaways that weren’t mentioned. All of the schedules are linked in the article, so take a look if there’s a team near you. There’s almost certainly something fun and interesting that you should check out, because minor league baseball is the best.