Myriad treasures to be given away at MLB parks in '13
From bobbleheads and balls to jerseys and hats, millions of keepsakes coming to fans
By Mark Newman
It's the Mike Trout giveaways in Anaheim, Beard Hat Night in Seattle, a record 10 bobblehead giveaways in Milwaukee, the Nick Swisher replica jersey in Cleveland, Free Shirt Fridays in Pittsburgh, the Jose Reyes figurine in Toronto and the Orbit bobblebelly in Houston.
It's the All-Star Bobblehead series at Citi Field, a Magic Johnson T-shirt at Dodger Stadium, the Joey Votto jersey pillow in Cincinnati, the Adam Jones road jersey replica in Baltimore, a White Sox Puzzle Cube, Mother's Day totes at various ballparks and a Cy Young figurine for David Price, followed by a special bobblehead for his dog, Astro.
A conservative estimate of more than 10 million such promotional items will be given out to fans by the 30 Major League Baseball clubs during the 2013 regular season, maybe a record. Many of them will wind up on office desks, adorning bedrooms, sealed in boxes, worn to shreds, universally loved and held as an attachment to a day or night at your favorite ballpark.
Individual-game tickets for all clubs are now on sale at MLB.com/tickets. You can click through the respective promotions schedules and ticketing pages on this page to see this year's giveaways, concerts, fireworks shows and various special events.
Reggie Jackson bobblehead
For Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, nothing this season can top the April 27 promotion in Oakland. The first 10,000 fans attending that Saturday day game against Baltimore will get a 1973 Reggie Jackson bobblehead presented by Pepsi. It is part of the club's 1973 World Series Team Reunion that day, paying tribute to that Swingin' A's team that won its second of three straight World Series titles.
"It was fun back then, because we were winning," Fingers said of that reunion. "It's always fun when you win. We had some great ballclubs in Oakland in the early '70s, from '72 -74, when we won three straight world championships, so we're going to have a reunion this year in April. We had one last year for the '72 team, we're going to have one this year for the '73 team, and we'll probably have one next year for '74, too."
Maybe they will do the Bernie Lean that day, like Can you Bernie Lean?,Coco Crisp's own "Leangurine" coming two months later.
Banging the drum in Cleveland
This has the makings of a promising summer in Cleveland, and Aug. 24, in particular, should be a hoot at Progressive Field. For that night's game against Minnesota, the Indians not only will give a Swisher jersey to the first 10,000 fans, but they also will recognize the 40th anniversary of superfan John Adams first bringing his famous drum to an Indians game.
"We typically get our first look at the next season's schedule the June before and spend the next five months researching, benchmarking and brainstorming," Indians manager of promotions Jason Kidik said. "We are always on the lookout for what is topical and relevant now and six months from now -- which is not easy. We weigh everything in determining what events or items are assigned to each game date: time of season, day of week, opponent, strength of item, historical data, fan feedback, etc."
Kidik cut his teeth in the Minors -- from Mahoning Valley to Columbus over six years -- when he was primarily responsible for promotions, but in reality wore many hats. He has overseen the Indians' promotional schedule the past eight seasons, leading the memorable development of a 2009 Rick Vaughn bobblehead (now in the Hall of Fame) that was part of an event commemorating 20 years of the movie "Major League."
Some promotions certainly work better than others, Kidik has learned, and he said building an MLB promotions schedule is an arduous effort that begins before the previous All-Star break.
"We assign events and/or giveaways strategically based on the data in-hand in an attempt to maximize attendance," he said. "Some dates require more help than others to bring people to the ballpark. We try to speak to all of our demographics throughout the season and give them added incentive to experience the ballpark."
After clubs set their promotions calendars, their corporate partnership staffs will typically work with partners to decide on ideal items or events for each brand. "Sometimes the partner brings an idea to the table that we explore and implement as well," Kidik said.
Beard Hat Night
The coolest promotion of the year very well may be the Beard Hat Night coming to Seattle on April 26 for the first 20,000 fans to attend that night's game against the Angels. The Mariners describe it this way: "It's a ski cap, it's faux facial hair and it's the first ever Mariners beard hat, the must-have fashion accessory of the year." It will be College Night as well, so we can see this item going back to campuses.
Jackie Robinson Day
April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day, and that will be three days after the much-anticipated release of the movie "42" in theaters. So producers for the film are sponsoring the Dodger Stadium giveaway of 40,000 miniature statues that feature Robinson in the middle, with former Brooklyn teammates Don Newcombe on his left and Roy Campanella on his right.
Trout, Trout and more Trout
There will be a common theme at Angel Stadium this season, with a Trout Blanket on April 11, a Trout bobblehead on April 13, a Trout Pint Glass on May 21, a Trout Fish Hat on June 18 and a Kids Trout Alternate Jersey on Aug. 3. Think they are excited about what the 2012 American League Rookie of the Year might accomplish with a full season? But we also are looking forward to the latest Guinness Book of World Records attempt there, and on June 1 it will be an effort to have the most fans wear an Angels Rally Wig at the same time.
"We want to give our fans exciting and unique items/promotions that highlight the great play of our team," said John Rozak, the Angels' marketing promotions manager. "We are very lucky to have great young talent like Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, C.J. Wilson and others to pair with our successful veterans like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Jered Weaver.
"The goal of every promotion is to generate excitement and enthusiasm for the Angels and all players associated with our promotions. Mike Trout highlights the youthful energy of our fan base and we seek to add to that energy with all promotions, and specifically our promotions featuring Mike this season."
Ten bobbleheads in Milwaukee
In Milwaukee, one of the most popular set of promotions are the club's "All Fan Bobblehead Giveaways." For these games, every fan who attends receives a bobblehead, and over the past half-dozen seasons, nearly every one of these games has sold out. These promotions have been so popular that the Brewers are increasing the number of bobblehead dates, going from the traditional six in prior years to 10 in 2013. The list includes four active players, led by superstar Ryan Braun, five alumni, including Hank Aaron, and the Famous Racing Sausages -- a uniform design add to the allure.
The Brewers' "Polish Heritage Day" is on June 23, and one example of how the club celebrates the community's diversity will be the script "Piwowarzy" -- the Polish translation of "Brewers" -- across the chest of special jerseys.
"Brewers fans have demonstrated a tremendous amount of support for the team in recent years, and from the feedback we receive, we know that they appreciate our efforts to bring them unique and creative promotions," said Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers' chief operating officer.
One of the Brewers' most popular promotions is their "Spring Madness" three-game series, which will be May 20-22 against the Dodgers. Nearly all tickets regularly priced $34 and less are half-price for that series, plus small Pepsi products and Klement's hot dogs are just $1 each.
Treasures in St. Louis
There will be poignant treasures taken away from ballparks as well. Consider in St. Louis, where on July 21 the first 25,000 fans 16 and older will receive a one-of-a-kind Replica Stan Musial Bronze Statue. It is just like the one displayed outside of Busch Stadium, the monolithic and immortal presence of The Man, who passed away on Jan. 19.
That giveaway item will be on a Sunday and part of a full Hall of Fame Weekend at Busch, where an Ozzie Smith Gold Glove bobblehead will be distributed on Friday and an adult replica 1940s Red Schoendienst jersey on Saturday.
And more ...
The 84th All-Star Game is headed to New York's Citi Field in July, and in keeping with that theme, the Mets' dispersal of nearly 400,000 items in 2013 will include an All-Star Bobblehead Series. The figures will include: Ron Darling (April 21), John Franco (May 25), David Wright (June 30), Dwight Gooden (July 21) and Tom Seaver (Aug. 25).
Aaron Hill hit for the cycle last June 18 and 29, becoming the second player since 1900 to achieve that twice in the same season. For the June 8 home game against the Giants, the D-backs and their fans will celebrate the anniversary month with a #BiCycle Bobblehead.
Rangers fans will feel a strikeout theme this summer. Start with the Nolan Ryan Bobblehead on May 21, in honor of the club president who struck out more batters than any other pitcher. Then on June 11, it's the Yu Darvish K Counter Bobblehead. In case it's an omen, head's-up to Indians manager Terry Francona, because his team is at Texas that Tuesday.
Toronto will salute Carlos Delgado on July 21, making its all-time leader in doubles, homers and RBIs the 10th member to be honored on the Blue Jays Level of Excellence -- and giving out 20,000 commemorative Delgado baseballs that day. The same month, fans in Baltimore will get a 1983 World Champs Floppy Hat.
Fingers knows there is nothing quite like a good tribute to past glory, commemorated with a modern giveaway, but he is mainly looking forward to reuniting once again with Reggie and the gang.
"They're fun, because you get to see guys you haven't seen for a while," Fingers said. "Last year we had 15, 16 or 17 guys show up. It was nice to see them again."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.