Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jake the Diamond Dog

That picture above is the famous Jake the Diamond Dog. I had the opportunity to see him as the Louisville Bats hosted the Norfolk Tides at Louisville Slugger field on Sunday, May 1, 2011. This was my first experience with Jake, but I am definitely a dog lover, so I had no doubt that this would be a favorite of mine.

It was a quiet day a Louisville Slugger Field. There were a number of other things going on in Downtown Louisville, and next week is Derby week. The game also was squeezed in between rain showers that had swelled the Ohio River from Louisville on south.

Jake has several "bits" that he does, but he does hang out on the field for most of the game. He had an inflatable dog house down the right field line where he and his person, Jeff Marchal, stayed during the action. They played catch with a frisbee during the inning breaks. Jake also brought out the game ball to the starting pitcher (who was in this case Johnny Cueto on a rehab start for the Cincinnati Reds).

Jake also acted as the bat boy during a couple of innings for the home team Louisville Bats. Basically, he stayed near the dugout and went and got the bat after the players had reached base. It's a good thing that the Tides did not strike out the side when Jake was working as the bat boy.

Jake as the Bats bat boy

It was a pretty impressive display. Jake seemed to be acting without direction, although I am certain he was getting commands from Jeff. I was wondering how he would pick up the bat without his teeth ruining the handle, but picking it up closer to the sweet spot seems to have answered that question

My favorite part was when Jake brought water out to the umpires. It was a fairly simple routine of carrying a basket with a few small water bottles. But, it seemed to personalize the routine a bit. Jake seemed to be a caring animal. The umpires interacted with Jake also, which was a nice touch.

Jake bringing water out to the umpires.

Jake and Jeff spent a good deal of time after the 7th inning at a table in the concourse signing autographs and talking to people (mostly kids). Jake sat on the table while Jeff did the autographs with them. This was a great part of the event. Jake was unbelievably well-behaved and really seemed to like the attention he was getting. Jeff personalized every autograph. I stopped by a few times, since the crowd was light, to give Jake a few extra pats.

All in all, I highly recommend Jake the Diamond Dog. This is not a headliner event, and I don't believe that many of these promotions are, but Jake is most definitely worth your time if live anywhere near his events. I highly recommend getting a ticket and going out to see him...especially if you like dogs.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Myron Noodleman, The Hippest Nerd in Da' Biz

That picture above is the famous Myron Noodleman. I had the opportunity to see him as the Louisville Bats hosted the Toledo Mud Hens at Louisville Slugger field on Saturday, April 9, 2011. This was my first experience with Mr. Noodleman, and I admit I was not sure what to expect.

I had done a little bit of research and I knew that he was "The Hippest Nerd in Da' Biz." I was not quite sure what nerds have to do with Minor League Baseball. I also found out that he was a dancing nerd. This led to more confusion. Dancing Nerd=Good Minor League Baseball promotion? Yes is the answer.

So, he basically does a series of skits between several of the innings and he does quite a bit of crowd interaction during the game. His crowd interaction seemed to involve a lot of teeth rubbing.

I told you.

I wish I could have gotten close enough to tell you what the teeth rubbing was all about, but he did not come to my section. Kids really seemed to enjoy the attention he would pay to them, and I saw a lot of smiles near him.

His on-field shtick was remarkably engaging. While not my personal cup of tea, but he is quite talented. His dancing was much better than I had expected (he is a professional after all). And, the crowd really seemed to be digging it.

I'm not going to give away his routine, since he has worked very hard to create a following, but here are some very general descriptions of some of the bits.

* Dueling signals set to the tune of "Dueling Banjos"
* Grounds Crew skit set to the tune of "YMCA"
* Chicken Dance with the "Umpire"
* Leading the crowd in signing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"

The "Dueling Signals" bit was quite good. It actually involved a player from the Bats, although I think that can vary depending on who is available to work with him. In this case, it was Kris Negron who was not starting that day, but is on the Reds 40-man roster. Kris was pretty good, and by and large was able to keep up with Myron Noodleman.

Myron Noodleman and Kris Negron

One thing I noticed was that when he encouraged the crowd to cheer or clap they were very responsive. Many of the in-stadium promo guys have a tough time getting the crowd to react, but not Myron Noodleman. He had a good rapport with the crowd.

Overall, Myron Noodleman is a promo that I don't understand, but his popularity with the crowd is undeniable. I think that he is particularly appealing to kids. One thing to note is that he mostly works games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. He does some weekdays, but not many.

Click here to go to Myron Noodleman's website. He has a schedule so you can see when he will be in your area.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Promo Spotlight: Thirsty Thursday

Thirsty Thursday is the Mother of all promotional nights. In fact, it is certainly not unique to baseball or sports marketing. Bars, restaurants, even nursing homes have Thirsty Thursday. But, Minor League baseball marketers seems to have turned it into a thing in and of itself. It dominates the landscape of Minor League Promotions like Devil's Tower.

The only seeming limitation to Thirsty Thursday are local ordinances. For example, in my original home state of  Rhode Island, there are very restrictive laws about drink prices and "Happy Hour" specials. Outside of this virtually all team offers a drink and/or food special on Thursday.

Why Thursday? Probably because it rhymes. But, also because it is leading into the weekend's usually larger promotions. And finally, it is pretty easy, especially since you can probably get distributors to offer discount prices on the beers/liquors themselves.

Though, the lesson of Disco Night at Old Comisky in 1979 should always be remembered when mixing other promos with happy hour.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Early Spring and Baseball Is Coming

Spring has sprung here in Cincinnati, where your inveterate host is stationed for the foreseeable future. Spring brings us to the inevitable thoughts of baseball, and hot dogs, and high skies, and pop-flys; strike outs, dugouts, and blowouts; double plays and backwards K's; Take Me Out to the Ballgame, The Hall of Fame, and learning the new guys' names. The Poet-Commissioner A. Bart Giamatti said it best and this is an excellent place for his words :

" It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops."

A love-song in prose, to a game nonetheless. Luckily, we stand today on the precipice of "the spring, when everything else begins again," and wonder what surprises and glories time has in store for us this year.