The most memorable minor league game I attended in 2012 was Dylan Bundy’s Single-A debut for the Frederick Keys at Harry Grove Stadium. In the many times I’ve trekked to Frederick, I’ve never seen the park that packed, experienced the buzz surrounding one player or parked as far away as I did the evening of May 26. No one in the standing room-only crowd dreamed that Bundy would wind up pitching for the Orioles in a pennant race; they just wanted to see if the 2011 first-round draft pick could dominate Carolina League hitters like he had toyed with South Atlantic League bats.
The staff at Frederick does its best to make every game there an experience, but sometimes there just isn’t the obvious draw of a Bundy debut. So those minor league promotions, equal parts creative and wacky, become a key in attracting fans to the ballpark, which helps create more atmosphere. Personally, I don’t think it gets any better than the antics of the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo or an appearance of green-tongued former WWE superstar and “Plan 9 From Outer Space” star George “The Animal” Steele (who, it turns out, really can speak and isn’t only hungry for turnbuckles), but I digress.
One of the Keys’ most clever promotions of 2012 has drawn some notice from the folks at MiLB.com, which annually holds a contest to determine the best of everything in the minors - the MiLBYs. On June 21, the Keys hosted “6 Months Til the End of the World Night,” a nod to the Mayan calendar’s predictions of imminent doom. The evening’s festivities included survival of the fittest events, last meal eating contests and zombie interns. And let’s face it, what baseball game isn’t made instantly better by the presence of zombies attired as zombies?
Anyway, that evening is among the contestants in the vote for the 2012 Promo of the Year, and the winner will receive the coveted golden bobblehead. Better yet, it’s a popular vote, so you can click here and show your appreciation for the Keys’ innovation.
Mind you, the competition is pretty intense. Among the dozen minor league promotions up for vote are some ingenious ideas - “No Soup for You Night” at Rookie League Orem of the Pioneer League, which featured “Seinfeld” Soup Nazi Larry Thomas, commemorative ladles and, of course, free soup; “Tyler Seguin Speed Dating Night,” where the short-season Single-A Lowell Spinners offered lucky female fans inning-long dates with the Boston Bruin bachelor; a “Taco Truck Throwdown 2” hosted by the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies and featuring a dozen vendors; and the South Atlantic League All-Star Game home run derby hosted by the Single-A Charleston River Dogs aboard an aircraft carrier berthed in Charleston Harbor (waterbound baseballs were hauled in by volunteers on JetSkis).
Bundy is also nominated as Startomg Pitcher of the Year, and can use your support. You can cast your ballot for Bundy on the same site - just look for the tabs at the right of the page.
You may vote 25 times per email address and voting ends Oct. 23.