15 Craziest Fan Giveaways in Baseball History
Baseball doesn’t usually sell itself. Teams aspiring to draw large crowds tempt their fans with giveaways and other perks to enhance the viewing experience.
Let’s relive the free stunts that were especially crazy and strange.
Generally, you'll be reading about small-market MLB franchises and their minor-league affiliates, anybody who struggles to put a butt in every seat.
Be grateful that their promoters went through the trouble of organizing and coordinating these events.
Honorable Mentions: 10-Cent Beer Night (1974), Disco Demolition Night (1979)
These incidents were as infamous as any featured I've in the following slides.
However, they involved steep discounts, not giveaways.
Both 10-Cent Beer Night and Disco Demolition Night attracted lots of locals and culminated in game-ending riots. Numerous arrests were made and the home teams—the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, respectively—reluctantly forfeited.
Free Compost Night (Seattle Mariners, 2011)
The Seattle Times
With the environment in mind, six Northwest sports franchises formed the Green Sports Alliance in 2011 (h/t The Seattle Times).
The Seattle Mariners emphasized conservation to their fans that season by distributing this garden-friendly mix. It was made using food waste and other items that had been discarded at Safeco Field.
Coco Crisp Chia Pet Day (Oakland Athletics, 2012)
Immediately upon re-signing Coco Crisp in January 2012, the Oakland Athletics put in a custom order for these silly things.
It's not an example of first-rate craftsmanship, but his prolific Afro deserved its own giveaway.
'Zim Bears' (Tampa Bay Rays, 2012)
FOX Sports Florida Staff
Tampa Bay Rays fans went absolutely bonkers for Zim Bears when they were unveiled this past June 29.
As Thomas Neumann of ESPN.com reports, the demand for more has been so incredible that the team decided to make an extra 10,000 for its Sept. 3 home game.
Who knew that miniaturizing the face of an elderly advisor and gluing it to a bear's body would be such a hit?
'Rally Squirrel' Towels (St. Louis Cardinals, 2011)
The St. Louis Cardinals might not have won the 2011 World Series without the "Rally Squirrel."
Facing elimination against the Philadelphia Phillies in the postseason's opening round, the furry critter interrupted a Skip Schumaker at-bat by dashing across home plate. His/her brief appearance energized the audience, and the team held on for a 5-3 victory.
Towels portraying the new mascot were produced in time for the next Cardinals home game (NLCS Game 3).
Prairie Chicken Head Giveaway (Schaumburg Boomers, 2012)
The official site of the Schaumburg Boomers teased this as "one of the most unique giveaways" of all time.
That cannot be disputed.
Schaumburg's claim that the freebies were "sure to go fast" also proved to be accurate. A crowd of 2,231 fought tooth and nail for the 1,500 heads.
In the comments section, could somebody please explain to me what a prairie chicken is? I split time between Miami and metropolitan New York, and neither location has any of them.
Soccer Balls (Kinston Indians, 2010)
What a desperate promotion.
To sell a few extra tickets in 2010, this Carolina League club offered soccer balls. That's right—equipment for a competing sport.
Kinston's All-America City awards ought to be revoked. The Beautiful Game and America's Pastime don't mix.
Toilet Seat Night (Hudson Valley Renegades)
Seat cushions that serve as not-so-subtle reminders about the quality of water in the Hudson River.
Surprisingly, this wasn't a standalone giveaway. Plungers were distributed to fans during the previous season.
Reggie! Bars (New York Yankees, 1978)
After Reggie Jackson's legendary performance in the 1977 World Series, Standard Brands honored him with the "Reggie!" bar. It was a circular treat of caramel-dipped peanuts inside a chocolate shell.
The New York Yankees featured it at their 1978 home opener, but many of the free samples weren't consumed by the crowd. Instead, they were hurled onto the field after Jackson hit a home run in the early innings.
The product would go on to cause many cavities in the weeks and months after its debut.
John Adams Bobblehead Day (Cleveland Indians, 2006)
Several unusual factors culminated in the creation of John Adams bobbleheads.
For an MLB team to mass produce goofy figurines of any fan, there must be 1) a dedicated supporter who hasn't missed a home game in decades, 2) a lack of outstanding players worth honoring, and 3) a lengthy championship drought that deters people from attending the ballpark when there's no giveaway.
About 33 years after the drum-pounding Adams began buying Cleveland Indians season tickets, the Tribe showed some appreciation.
Used Car Night (San Antonio Missions, Est. 1997)
One night per year, San Antonio Missions fans are given free raffle tickets upon entering the stadium. At least a handful randomly win functional, decade-old vehicles.
New car owners claim their prizes outside the stadium, or else you can bet they would spend the evening doing donuts in the outfield.
Bubble Wrap Night (Lowell Spinners, 2010)
This is video evidence of a Lowell Spinners crowd setting the world record for most people popping Bubble Wrap simultaneously. Every attendee was given a sheet and told to resist the urge until the third inning.
According to reports, 3,692 actually did.
The product's 50th anniversary celebration also included a "Bubble Wrap Dance Floor."
Vasectomy Night (Charleston RiverDogs)
Don't worry, this foul gimmick was cancelled before somebody got snipped.
Of course, the twisted Charleston RiverDogs—who on another occasion locked their paying fans outside the stadium—were behind this.
Had they not been overwhelmed with complaints from ticket holders, a lucky fan would have gotten an all-expenses-paid vasectomy (with the option to decline, I assume).
Cowbell Night (Tampa Bay Rays, Est. 2006)
Yes, this annual giveaway is inspired by the hilarious Saturday Night Live "More Cowbell" skit.
Unfortunately for our ears, these instruments are clanked at Tropicana Field throughout the summer. It's worst during the postseason, and the Rays seem likely to qualify for that yet again.
Mini Vuvuzela Night (Florida Marlins, 2010)
What is it with Florida baseball and obnoxious noises?
In 2010, the Marlins were struggling to sell tickets, so they looked to soccer's World Cup in South Africa for ideas.
Hopefully, whichever promotional department idiot proposed this giveaway is suffering. Every waking moment of his life should be forcibly spent listening to that infernal humming.
Then I will be at peace.
Cash Dash Money Drop (West Michigan Whitecaps, 2006)
Delbridge Langdon Jr./Grand Rapids Press
A celebratory helicopter—carrying about $1,000 in cash—was flown onto the field when the Class-A Detroit Tigers affiliate climbed to within one game of .500.
According to USATODAY.com, a seven-year-old boy was hospitalized after being "trampled pretty good," and a girl of the same age suffered a bloody lip.
If the Whitecaps were so interested in compensating their fans, they surely could have devised a safer method of disseminating the cash.