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Five Ballpark Promotions That Went Wrong

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I may be a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan, but that doesn't mean I'll go to the ballpark just for the games. I often choose what tickets I buy based on the promotions. So far this season I've bought tickets to fireworks night, half-price college ID night and dollar dog night. While I always enjoy my free flashlight or bobblehead, there have been some fan promotions that didn't go so well. Here's a look at five that failed:

Cleveland Municipal Stadium, 1974

The Promotion: 10-Cent Beer Night. To bring fans to see the miserable Cleveland Indians, management decided to sell 10-ounce cups of beer for only 10 cents at a game against the Texas Rangers.

What went wrong: Management forgot one small detail: drunk people get restless. More than 25,000 fans showed up for the event, most of them already tipsy at the gate. Among the more tame incidents was a woman who flashed the crowd from the on-deck circle, a father-son team mooning the players (good bonding experience, I guess) and fans jumping on the field to meet shake hands with the outfielders. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, the Indians tied the game, but never got a chance to win. Fans started throwing batteries, golf balls, cups and rocks onto the field and one even took the glove of the Rangers right fielder. As the player rushed into the stands to get his glove back, fans starting swarming the field to stop him and threw chairs to block his way.

The Outcome: The Indians were forced to forfeit the game and nine fans were arrested. The AL president forced the franchise to abandon the promotion idea after understating "There was no question that beer played a great part in the affair."

Cash drop night, All-you-can-eat seat night, and more bad ideas after the break.

disco demolition.jpgComiskey Park, 1979

The Promotion: Disco Demolition Night. White Sox fans were encouraged to bring old disco records to the park in exchange for a reduced admission price of 98 cents. The records were to be destroyed in between the two games of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.

What went wrong: Believe it or not, a lot of people wanted to see disco records destroyed. 50,000 people showed up at the gates and many who were turned away at the gate tried to climb the walls of the stadium to get in. The crowd, who were reportedly heavily under the influence, soon realized that records could double as Frisbees, which naturally led to fans throwing firecrackers and drinks. When the demolition moment came, the explosion was bigger than expected and ended up ripping a hole in the outfield grass. Thousands of fans ran onto the field to join the mayhem, burning banners and throwing objects. The batting cages were even destroyed in the riot.

The outcome: The Tigers refused to take the field, forcing the White Sox to forfeit the game. The quick patch job on the outfield left the grass uneven and players complained about it for the rest of the season.

Dodger Stadium, 1995

The Promotion: Ball Night. Fans entering the game were given a souvenir baseball.

What went wrong: Turns out baseballs are pretty convenient things to throw. In the seventh inning, fans threw balls at an opposing outfielder when he bobbled a play. The real drama happened in the bottom of the ninth, though. Dodger Raul Mondesi and manager Tommy Lasorda were ejected for arguing a strikeout call, inspiring about 200 fans to throw their promotional balls onto the field. The umps urged the Cardinals to stay on the field, but finally decided to end the game after more fans decided to contribute their gifts to the game.

The Outcome: The Dodgers were forced to forfeit the game, the first forfeit in the National League in 41 years.

helicopter.jpgFifth Third Ballpark, 2006

The Promotion: Cash Drop. The West Michigan Whitecaps, Detroit's class-A affiliate, had a helicopter drop $1,000 in various bills from a helicopter after a game.

What went wrong: People love money more than they love other people. Two children were injured scrambling for the cash. A girl received a bloody lip being pushed to the ground, while a seven-year-old boy was bruised when he got trampled in the fray.

The Outcome: The boy was taken to the hospital, but released after treatment. The team management summed up the incident by reminding everyone that they had signed waivers.

Dodger Stadium, 2007

The Promotions: All-you-can-eat seats. Undoing the work of Shaq and Cookie Monster, the Dodgers decided to promote obesity by opening up a section of all-you-can-eat seats. Although beer, ice cream and candy are still for sale, most food is just given away. Ticket prices range from $20-$40.

What went wrong: Not everybody can handle an open buffet of hot dogs and nachos. One Slate reporter wrote about his experience in the seats, which predictably ended in vomit. I can only imagine that countless other fans have had their evenings end in a similar way.

The Outcome: Despite the upchucking, the seats remain open and usually draw between 2,000 and 4,000 fans a night. In fact, the Dodgers have declared the promotion a success and have reached the second-highest attendance in baseball. Other stadiums have contacted the Dodgers about copying the idea.

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What's the Kennection? #159
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11 Classic Facts About Converse Chucks
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Converse’s Chuck Taylor sneakers have been around since the early 20th century, but they haven’t changed much—until recently. In 2015, The Chuck II—a new line of Converse that looks much the same as the original shoe but with a little more padding and arch support—hit stores. In honor of the kicks' staying power, here are 11 facts about Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.  

1. They were originally athletic shoes. 

The Converse All-Star debuted in 1917 as an athletic sneaker. It quickly became the number one shoe for basketball, then a relatively new sport (basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891, but the NBA wasn't founded until 1946). By the late 1940s, most of the NBA sported Chucks. They remain the best-selling basketball shoes of all time, even though very few people wear them for basketball anymore. (Many teams switched to leather Adidas in the late ‘60s.)

2. Converse previously made rain boots.

The company started in 1908 as a rubber shoe company that produced galoshes.  

3. The All-Star design hasn’t really changed since 1917.

The updated Chuck II is Converse’s first real attempt to update its flagship product since the early 20th century. The company is understandably reticent to shake things up: All-Stars make up the majority of the company’s revenue, and like any classic design, its fans can be die-hards. In the 1990s, when the company tried to introduce All-Stars that were more comfortable and had slightly fewer design inconsistencies, hardcore aficionados rebelled. “They missed the imperfections in the rubber tape that lines the base of the shoe,” according to the Washington Post. The company went back to making a slightly imperfect shoe.

4. Chuck Taylor was a basketball player and trainer ...

Chuck Taylor in 1921. Image Credit: North Carolina State University via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Taylor was a Converse salesman and former professional basketball player who traveled around the country teaching basketball clinics (and selling shoes) starting in the 1920s. His name was added onto an ankle patch on the sneaker in 1932

5. ... And though he sold a lot of Chucks, he wasn't always a great coach.

Taylor is in large part responsible for the shoe’s popularity with athletes (the company rewarded him with an unlimited expense account), but his training advice wasn’t always the best. As former University of North Carolina player Larry Brown told Spin in an oral history of the shoe:

My greatest memory of Chuck Taylor—probably ’61 or ’62—is that he told Coach [Dean] Smith that he’d make us special weighted shoes in Carolina blue. The idea was that we’d wear the weighted shoes in practice, and then during the games, we’d run faster and jump higher. Well, we tried them for one practice and everyone pulled a hamstring.

6. Converse didn’t intend for their shoes to be punk.

“We always thought of ourselves as an athletic shoe company,” John O’Neil, who oversaw Converse’s marketing from 1983 to 1997, told Spin. “We wanted to sell a wholesome shoe.” The company was still touting its shoes as basketball sneakers as late as 2012, and some of its non-Chucks sneakers still have pro endorsers.

7. The company owns a recording studio.

Finally embracing its role in the music scene, the company launched Rubber Tracks, a Brooklyn-based recording studio where bands can record for free, in 2011.

8. Not all the Ramones were fans. 

Chuck Taylors are associated with punk rockers, especially the Ramones, but not everyone in the band wore them. “Dee Dee and I switched over to the Chuck Taylors because they stopped making [the style of] U.S. Keds and Pro-Keds [that we liked],” Marky Ramone told Spin. “Joey never wore them. He needed a lot of arch support and Chuck Taylors are bad for that.”

9. Chucks were initially only high tops. 

In 1962, Converse rolled out its first oxford Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Previously, it had just been a high-top shoe. Four years later, the company would introduce the first colors other than black and white.

10. Rocky ran in them.

In 1976, All-Stars were still considered a viable athletic shoe. If you look closely at the training montage from Rocky, you’ll see the boxer is wearing Chucks. 

11. Wiz Khalifa loves them. 

The rapper named his record label Taylor Ganag Records, in part due to his appreciation for Chuck Taylors. In 2013, he launched a shoe collection with Converse featuring 12 styles. 

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