Minor league teams will do just about anything to put butts in the seats. Actually, you can pretty much forget the "just about" part. In the spirit of the late, great MLB owner and showman Bill Veeck, we now present our annual Veeckie Awards to the maestros of mayhem who threw caution (and taste) to the wind.
PROMO OF THE YEAR
BEST COMMUNITY BUILDING
Winner: Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Renegades (Rays, Class-A)
Promo: Born in the USA Night - A legal alien was pitted against U.S. citizens in a series of challenges, including apple pie eating and corn shucking. If the foreigner had won, the team would have paid for his citizenship application. Alas, he fell just short.
Acceptance Speech: "The crowd fell in love with him," says GM Eben Yager. "So we made him Ambassador to Dutchess Stadium for the season."
THE REST OF THE BEST
BEST USE OF a CLASSIC VILLAIN
Winner: Fresno (Calif.) Grizzlies (Giants, Triple-A)
Promo: Totally Rad '80s Night - With Billy Zabka Yes, it's clever that they swapped the photos of the visiting Colorado Springs players with those of Garbage Pail Kids. But tabbing the Karate Kid's archfoe Zabka to patrol the stadium? Genius.
Acceptance Speech: "We wanted the quintessential '80s icon," says team marketer Scott Carter of Zabka. "But we had a budget."
BEST TWEAK OF A FUTURE HOF'ER
Winner: Augusta (Ga.) GreenJackets, (Giants, Class-A)
Promo: Brett Favre Night - They retired, then unretired, Brett's No. 4, gave out flip-flops, fed free brats to anyone donning a cheesehead and upgraded the seats of fans in Favre jerseys. Two fans&MDASH;Aaron and Rodgers&MDASH;threw out the first pitch.
Acceptance Speech: "Brett didn't come," says team rep Stephanie Bindewald. "Maybe we should have sent a formal invite."
BEST EXPLOITATION OF INTERNS
Winner: Omaha (Neb.) Royals (Royals, Triple-A)
Promo: Ty Cobb Night - The team distributed cards and autographs of Ty Cobb. Club intern Ty Cobb, that is. And gals vied for a date with the honoree in a Bachelor-style comp.
Acceptance Speech: "The next night I heard a couple say it was neat to meet Ty Cobb," says Cobb. "That was cool."
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TIME WARP
Winner: Stockton (Calif.) Ports (A's, Class-A)
Promo: Prom Gone Wrong - A limo and red carpet greeted the crowd at the stadium entrance and fans and staff wore tuxedos and gowns. The at-bat music: ageless slow dances like "Lady in Red."
Acceptance Speech: Promo boss Eron Zehavi: "People tried to make out behind the team store. Maybe."
BEST EFFORT TO RESPECT ELDERS
Winner: Huntsville (Ala.) Stars (Brewers, Double-A)
Promo: Gorgeous Grandma Pageant - The Stars lined up golden gals at home, then asked them pageanty questions. Fans picked the winner.
Acceptance Speech: "You can't write this stuff," says promo honcho Matt Price. He was referencing the granny who said she still "skinny-dips with Pawpaw."