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Minor League promos to look forward to in 2023

As season begins, an overview of tasty theme nights and much more
April 4, 2023

When it comes to Minor League Baseball games, are you more likely to attend for the prospects or the promos? While these pursuits aren't mutually exclusive, many fans find their greatest ballpark joys within the latter: the cornucopia of theme nights, giveaways and celebrity appearances that take place at ballparks

When it comes to Minor League Baseball games, are you more likely to attend for the prospects or the promos?

While these pursuits aren't mutually exclusive, many fans find their greatest ballpark joys within the latter: the cornucopia of theme nights, giveaways and celebrity appearances that take place at ballparks nationwide from the end of March through the end of September.

This article is dedicated to highlighting some of the most best promotions that are scheduled to take place this season. Please note the use of the word "some" in the previous sentence, as there's plenty more where this came from and we here at will endeavor to cover them all season long.

Regional food-themed alternate identities, a trend started by the Fresno Grizzlies in 2015, are more popular than ever. To whet your appetite, here are three notable culinary debuts:

Sauerkraut Balls (Akron RubberDucks, Aug. 18)
Last season, the Akron RubberDucks suited up as the Jojos and thereby brought greater prominence to a popular Northeast Ohio potato side dish. The RubberDucks will once again celebrate a regional delicacy this season, as they'll play as the Sauerkraut Balls on Aug. 18. For the initiated, a sauerkraut ball is a "small, breaded and deep-fried sphere of sauerkraut and ground pork."

Pepperoni Balls (Erie SeaWolves, Aug. 5)
Since we're on the topic of Eastern League teams debuting a rotund food identity in the month of August: The Erie SeaWolves will play as the Pepperoni Balls on Aug. 4-5, as part of what the team has dubbed the "Erie-est Weekend." A pepperoni ball is just about what you'd expect it to be, a "savory treat of dough stuffed with pepperoni and cheese." Stanganelli's Italian Foods of Erie will serve as the "official pepperoni ball provider of the SeaWolves," meaning that unofficial providers will have to covertly sell their unsanctioned pepperoni balls in isolated corners of the stadium while trying to evade stadium security.

Calf Fries (Amarillo Sod Poodles, April 15 and five subsequent dates)
Amarillo's new food-themed identity is based around a polarizing local specialty. The Texas panhandle team chose this identity to celebrate "our region's uniqueness and historic cowboy ways," though they stopped short of describing what Calf Fries actually are. Let's just say it's an acquired taste, which fans will be able to acquire for themselves at the concession stand.

Of course, there are some notable new alternate identities that have nothing to do with food. This one is dynamite:

Exploding Whales (Eugene Emeralds, April 22 and three subsequent dates)
In November of 1970, a sperm whale washed up on the Oregon coast, in the city of Florence. The city wasn't sure how to remove its eight-ton carcass, so, after much deliberation, they blew it up. This unorthodox approach did not go as planned, to put it mildly, a fact that immediately became apparent as massive chunks of blubber rained down upon the assembled spectators. This story deserves its own article (stay tuned), so for now just know that the Emeralds (located approximately 50 miles from Florence) are playing as the Exploding Whales on four occasions this season.

Pensacola Pok-Ta-Pok (Pensacola Blue Wahoos, May 5 and two subsequent dates)
Ninety-five teams are now participating in Copa de la Diversión, an event series dedicated to engaging with local Hispanic fan bases. Among this year's Copa debuts, the Pensacola Pok-ta-Pok stand out. Pok-ta-pok is the first ball-based sport in the recorded history of the Americas, and it's still played today. The Blue Wahoos' Pok-Ta-Pok uniforms feature the Mayan language, and the Double-A Miami affiliate hopes to host demonstrations of the sport at Blue Wahoos Ballpark.

If you're looking for pop culture-themed promotions, please know that "The Office" still reigns supreme in Minor League Baseball. Leslie David Baker (Stanley), Brian Baumgartner (Kevin) and Kate Flannery (Meredith) are all once again making the rounds, posing for pictures and signing autographs at ballparks across the country. But for something more unique, consider this:

Outsiders House Museum Night (Tulsa Drillers, April 22)
Did you know that Francis Ford Coppola's "The Outsiders" was filmed in Tulsa, and that the house where the Curtis brothers lived is now a museum founded by House of Pain rapper Danny Boy O'Connor? I didn't either, until the Tulsa Drillers' promo schedule came out, with "Outsiders House Museum Night" scheduled for April 22. The Drillers will wear Outsiders-themed denim jerseys, and Danny Boy himself will be in attendance.

In this writer's humble opinion, the best Minor League promotions are absurd theme nights that have no reason to exist outside of the team saying, "Sure. Why not?" The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are the reigning kings of this category, and a whole article can (and should) be dedicated to their absurd endeavors. Here are two, to whet your appetite.

Swedish Furniture Night (Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, April 21)
Swedish furniture -- or, more accurately, one particular Swedish furniture company -- is beloved for its sleek design and affordability, but not so beloved for the lack of ease with which the furniture is assembled. The Jumbo Shrimp are commemorating this reality by having a Swedish furniture assembly contest. And, sure, why not? There'll be plenty of Swedish fish for all to enjoy.

Phobias Night (Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Sept. 2)
Why go to the ballpark to get away from your worries, when instead you can be directly confronted by them? On Phobias Night, the Jumbo Shrimp report that they'll be celebrating all that gives people the creeps, including but not limited to spiders, snakes, airplanes, clowns, books, insects, non-alcoholic beer, cemeteries and the Durham Bulls (who aren't even the visiting team on this evening).

Have we made it this far without mentioning bobbleheads? Remarkably, we have. 2023 has not shaped up to be the sort of season in which teams push bobble boundaries (in the past, we've seen bobblebutts, bobblewrists and bobblelegs, among others). Nonetheless, it's always nice when a flamingo and his rider are immortalized together.

Flingo the Flamingo and the Wacky Hot Dog Vendor bobblehead (Richmond Flying Squirrels, May 15) During every Flying Squirrels game, the Wacky Hot Dog vendor saddles Flingo, his trusty flamingo, and then throw hot dogs into the crowd while screaming maniacally. These two get their own bobblehead on May 15, an honor that perhaps brings them to the level of the Reading Fightin Phils' Crazy Hot Dog vendor (who throws hot dogs into the crowd while riding an ostrich. Totally different concept.)

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.