A (theme) night at the ballparkWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
A trip to Fifth Third Field may center around a baseball game, but families know it’s as much about the experience and entertainment as it is the bats and balls. The Toledo Mud Hens organization has excelled at making the game just one element of a fun night for the kids.
The zenith of this promotional mindset has been the annual “May the Fourth Be With You” nights, which adopt all things “Star Wars” to enhance the food, music, events and even the team jerseys. The Hens are on the road May 4 this year but will still have a “Star Wars” theme night on May 10. The fun expands this season to a May 30 night celebrating the 30th(!) anniversary of “Ghostbusters,” again with special player jerseys, which made national sports news when they were unveiled.
This season will also celebrate everything from moms (May 11) to veterans (June 14) to Lego (July 10).
As the Hens sought to explore new corners of promotions and set the tone for minor league baseball entertainment, they planned one theme night that may prove to be a game-changer: The Aug. 14 night celebrating the 25th(!) anniversary of “Seinfeld.” This is compelling and risky. As venerated as the show is, it lacks the broad, multigenerational appeal of Lego and “Star Wars.” It is about as edgy a choice as an inherently conservative organization such as a minor league baseball team is likely to indulge in. The featured guest is Larry Thomas, who found fame as the “Soup Nazi,” a character about as far removed from Muddy Mudhen as Mickey Mouse is from Fidel Castro. I hope it is a great success, as I would like to see the Hens continue to push into niche territory for its theme nights.
Along those lines, here are some suggestions for other niche themes to enhance a night at the ballpark.
- “Dallas Buyers Club Night”
To honor the recent Oscar-winning film, those patrons dressed as members of the opposite sex get discounts at the ballpark’s Suds & Wieners restaurant.
- “Saw Night”
One fan clamped to his or her seat has until the seventh inning to saw off a leg or talk other fans into sacrificing themselves.
- “Miley Cyrus Night”
An opportunity for fans to set the Guinness World Records mark for largest crowd twerking session. Considering the state of some of Downtown’s buildings, there’s probably a “Wrecking Ball” joke in here somewhere,
- “Adam Sandler Night”
A kinda sorta funny promotion that would be very popular but not very good.
- “Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Night”
This would be an extra-inning game that looks like it ends in the 12th inning. As the crowd gets up to leave, thinking the game is over, a 13th inning would start. When that inning ends and the crowd gets up to leave, thinking the game is over, a 14th inning would start. When that inning ends and the crowd gets up to leave, thinking the game is over, a 15th inning would start. When that inning ends and the crowd gets up to leave, thinking the game is over, a 16th inning would start. When that inning ends and the crowd gets up to leave, thinking the game is over, a 17th inning would start. When that inning ends and the crowd gets up to leave, thinking the game is over, an 18th inning would start …
- “J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Night”
Take all the elements of “Star Wars Night,” speed up the game and shine a lens flare in the outfielders’ eyes.
- “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Night”
Free waxing and portrait Photoshopping for the first 1,000 fans.
- “Fred Phelps Memorial Night”
Fans receive a bobblehead of the Westboro Baptist minster and professional funeral disruptor with its head up its bottom. In the seventh inning, the crowd sings “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
- “Baseball Night”
The most radical idea, in which everything about the night focuses on baseball.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and news director for 1370 WSPD. Email him at email@example.com.