For many fans, the promise of a great game is plenty of enticement for a pilgrimage to see their local Major League Baseball team play. Others are a bit choosier and need to be lured in with promotions and special events. If you fall into the latter camp, here are some offbeat celebrations and giveaways that might just have you hitting up StubHub and heading to the park this summer:
1. Meet Arnold Umbach
Some teams like to use the prospect of meeting franchise stars to bring fans to the park. The Atlanta Braves have a pretty nice slate of alumni coming back for appearances, including Dale Murphy. There's also the legendary Arnold Umbach. You know, the Arnold Umbach! Who? Exactly. Umbach, a right-handed reliever, put up a nice 3.12 ERA over the course of his Braves career, but said career probably isn't fresh in even die-hard fans' minds. Umbach only pitched 49 innings over the course of his entire MLB career; he tossed 8 1/3 innings in 1964 for the Milwaukee Braves, didn't play in the Majors in 1965, and then went 40 2/3 innings in 1966 for Atlanta. And that's it. So why is he the featured alumni draw at a Braves game? Good question. Head to Turner Field on June 7 and ask him yourself.
2. Garry Maddox Ribfest
Longtime Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder Garry Maddox was a magician with the leather; he won eight Gold Gloves over the course of his career and helped bring a World Series title to Philly in 1980. He's also a man who enjoys his barbecue. On August 8, he'll be hosting the eighth installment of the Garry Maddox Barbecue Challenge at Citizens Bank Park. Get hungry for an event in which restaurants and pitmasters try to outdo each other in the smoked meat department, and fans get to scarf down the cooks' tasty wares. [Image courtesy of BlindPigBBQ.net.]
3. 1989 Mark McGwire World Series Replica Jersey Night
Go to the Coliseum for the Oakland Athletics' game on Monday June 22nd, and you can leave with a Big Mac replica. This one should dovetail nicely with Syringe Night and "We're Not Here To Talk About the Past" Night.
4. 1989 San Francisco Giants Team Reunion
The A's aren't the only team that's honoring the 20th anniversary of the Bay Area Oakland-San Francisco World Series tilt. The Giants are hosting a reunion during their June 13 game against Oakland. The conversation at this one is bound to be worth the price of admission; "Hey, remember when we got swept in the World Series and a giant, deadly earthquake struck the area and delayed the whole thing by 10 days? Ah, precious memories"¦"
5. Wine, Women, and Baseball Tickets
Ladies, have you ever tried to get a group of girlfriends together for a game, only to be shot down because there wouldn't be enough wine at the festivities? The Minnesota Twins have heard your cries, and they're here to help. For just $47 you can buy special ladies-only tickets that include a pregame wine tasting, a gift bag, and "Pamper Yourself" stations.
6. Stitch "˜n' Pitch Night
Sick of going to Milwaukee Brewers games and not having a fellow needle artist sitting in your section? Well, just wait for the Brew Crew's July 29 game against the Nationals. On this night, the Needle Arts Association and the team are reserving over a thousand outfield loge box seats especially for folks who know their way around a thimble so top sewers can mingle, meet shop owners, and attend teaching sessions. Can't make it to Milwaukee? There's a good chance your home team is having a Stitch "˜n' Pitch Night of its own.
7. Very Specific Workforce Appreciation Nights
When the only thing lower than your squad's payroll is your attendance figures, you've got to do whatever you can to pack some folks in. Credit the Florida Marlins for being promotion-crazy to fill the seats. While you've already missed last Friday's Lawyer Appreciation Night, if you hurry, you can still get seats for CPA Appreciation Night on June 7th. This will be like a second Tax Day for everyone's favorite number crunchers.
8. Empty Seat Night
This exciting (if unintentional) twist on a ballgame will be available at every game between now and the end of the season at the new Yankee Stadium.
9. Get Cheap Seats In Exchange For Your All-Star Ballot
Most teams are pretty shameless about reminding you to fill out an All-Star ballot for the hometown guys when you're at the park. The Chicago White Sox have taken things to a whole new level, though. The team's website is currently offering a deal where in exchange for filling out an online ballot, they'll email you discount codes for $5 or $10 off tickets to several September games. Is this ploy ridiculous? Oh, yes, but when your starting second baseman has a whopping .642 OPS like Alexei Ramirez does, it's not like anyone's going vote for him on his own merits.
10. Dog Day
Don't want to leave your pooch at home when you head to the ballpark? If you're a Blue Jays fan, you won't have to make that decision on July 26th, when the team hosts Dog Day.
This event likely takes the cake for funniest disclaimer or warning for an MLB promotion; the team's site includes the following in bold type: "Do not bring a female dog in heat."