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10 Brilliant (Or Puzzling) Baseball Stadium Promotions

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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

stitch-pitch.jpgSick 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

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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."

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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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