‘Star Wars’ nights highlight Mud Hens promotions calendarWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …
OK, maybe not that long ago — just last May. And certainly not that far away — just across the street at Fifth Third Field, a stone’s throw from the Toledo Free Press offices.
But on a balmy spring night, a Toledo Mud Hens home game became a grand celebration of all things “Star Wars,” as the first “May the Fourth Be With You” promotion took place.
“It was first brought up by one of our ticket consultants, Kyle Moll,” said Michael Keedy, manager of special events for the Hens. “He came to me and mentioned that we had a home game on May 4, and was aware of a kind of
unofficial ‘Star Wars’ holiday called ‘May the Fourth Be With You.’ And he said, ‘That’d be a lot of fun
to do a “May the Fourth Be With You” promotion.’
“It’s not a unique idea — other teams have had ‘Star Wars’ nights. In fact, we’ve had ‘Star Wars’ nights in the past. But what we did differently was we branded that game as ‘May the Fourth Be With You.’ We had everything from special food offerings to costume contests. We had character appearances.
“If you came to the game on ‘May the Fourth Be With You,’ you really felt — from the time you came to the game to when you left — that it was a ‘Star Wars’-themed atmosphere the entire night.”
So wildly popular was the event, in fact, that the promotions department jumped at the opportunity to revisit and expand on the concept this year.
“We had home games this seaso on May 4, which is a Saturday, and May 5, which is a Sunday,” Keedy said. “We wanted to really expand it to the entire weekend because we had so much fun with it last year. So that’s how we came up with ‘May the Fourth Be With You’ and ‘Revenge of the Fifth.’”
This year’s edition will include tons of unique touches to make both nights a fun destination for fans of baseball and fans of the films. Everything from face-painting to a special “Star Wars”-themed fireworks show, a costume parade and a kazoo-along with John Williams’ famous theme. Even the players’ headshots, displayed on the big video board, will be modified to look like iconic “Star Wars” characters. (No word on which opposition players might be Princess Leia.)
“On Sunday, the ‘Revenge of the Fifth’ game, the Mud Hens team will wear Chewbacca-themed baseball jerseys. They’re really cool,” Keedy said. “Those will be auctioned off silently on the main concourse, benefiting a charitable partner.”
As anticipated as the “Star Wars” nights are, they’re just one of the many promotions that fan have to look forward to during the 2013 season. From the traditional fireworks shows and autograph sessions to nights that celebrate the history of baseball in Toledo and the birthday of iconic Mud Hens mascot Muddy, the team’s special events staff always aims to appeal to the broadest possible audience.
“We do promotions that are very much involved in the community,” Keedy said. “If there’s a big event going on, we want to be a part of that — that’s one big factor. And then the obvious one is that we always want to be unique. We want to provide opportunities for people to come out and be entertained throughout the entire event.
“And we want to try and stay fresh. We have a lot of things that we try and do on an annual basis that are a lot of fun, and are very popular. But every year, we’re analyzing the schedule and things going on, what’s going on in popular culture. How can we keep the promotions fresh and new and exciting? Those are all factors.”
When it comes to developing and executing new concepts for promotional events, Keedy said it is always a collaborative process.
“Many times, they’re developed just through discussions through our very creative team,” he said. “We talk about what’s popular at the time, we talk about if a game falls on a particular holiday, or a date when something is especially celebrated, we talk about things that have become popular during the baseball season during the previous year that we really want to grow and expand on in the following year.
“I would say it’s a team effort, and a lot of ideas come from all departments, and all the individuals that work with us. You know, it’s really a group effort to come up with any unique ideas and any unique things for the future.”
Planned entertainment includes a country concert on June 1, “Clown Prince of Baseball” Myron Noodleman on June 7, The ZOOperstars on June 21 and BirdZerk! on July 26.
Character appearances include Millie, Geo and Bot from “Team Umizoomi” on May 19, Fred Flintstone on June 2, Tommy, Chuckie and Angelica from “Rugrats” on July 5, Dora the Explorer on July 28 and Scooby-Doo on Aug. 18.
Nurses Recognition Night is May 6, Law Enforcement Recognition Night is May 18 and Veterans Appreciation Night is June 22. June 23 is Irish Heritage Night and July 28 is Latino Heritage Night while May 15 and June 24 are Senior Days. July 5 is “Back to the ’90s” night, featuring a visit from “The Sandlot” director David Mickey Evans and a postgame screening of the film. Muddy’s Birthday Bash is July 6-7. July 26 is Pink in the Park, benefiting the Northwest Ohio affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Toledo Baseball History Weekend is Aug. 2-4.
Pregame craft beer tastings are planned for May 17, June 6, July 5 and Aug. 1.
And whether fans come out for “Star Wars” nights, to see their kids run the bases or to grab that commemorative Mudonna toothbrush holder, Keedy said that the goal remains the same.
“We’ve got a lot of people who come out to the ballpark to see a great baseball game, and a great product on the field,” Keedy said. “But we also have a lot of people that come out to the ballpark specifically to bring their family out, bring their date out, have a night out on the town, have a lot of fun, be entertained. And they may not even have any interest in what’s going on out in the field.
“And it’s our obligation to make sure they leave the ballpark feeling like they were very much entertained, and wanting to come back for multiple games.”
For a full list of promotions, click on the “Tickets and Promotions” tab at www.mudhens.com.
Events are subject to change.