25 Really Awful Sports Giveaways
Let's face it, with the exception of the NFL, the average sports season is extremely long—particularly in baseball. With only 16 football games per season, including eight homes games, the NFL doesn’t have to worry about putting asses in the seats.
In the case of MLB, nine months of the year is a very long time to hold someone's attention. Even the most fanatical of baseball fans will have trouble finding time in their schedules for five to seven games per week, which is pretty much the norm.
Enter promotional giveaways.
Baseball teams all over the country pack their home schedules with promotions and giveaways to attract fans. Of course, no team can afford to give out bobbleheads every night—do you think money grows on trees? It doesn't; ask your dad.
That's why not all giveaways are created equal. Some are great, while others are downright terrible. Here are 25 of the worst sports giveaways ever.
Offenders: Toledo MudHens
Not discounting the needs of school children throughout the country, but even with that in mind, the MudHens three “school folder” giveaways in May 2014 just seems excessive.
Reusable Tote Bags
Offender: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have overtaken the Yankees as the biggest spenders in MLB, yet somehow one of their 2014 promotions is reusable tote bags. Not that there’s anything wrong with reusing tote bags, but it just seems like the Dodgers could do a little better.
10-Cent Beer Night
Offender: Cleveland Indians
Back in 1974, the Indians decided to give beer away to fans for 10 cents, and it went just about as well as you’d expect. Even adjusting for inflation, back then a dime still bought a whole boatload of beer. And since fans could buy six at a time, it didn’t take long before things got ugly.
Ohio Beef Council Shirt
Offender: Columbus Clippers
In 2014, one of the Clippers' giveaway promotions is a t-shirt, courtesy of the Ohio Beef Council. The sad part? You know it’s not going to be anyway near as goofy as it sounds.
Offender: Tampa Bay Rays
As horrifying as the Rays’ “Zim Bear” is—a freaky toy with the face of veteran ball player Don Zimmer and the body of a teddy bear—apparently the unholy beast is actually a hot commodity down in Tampa. The weirdo promotion was such a success in July 2012, that it was repeated again just a month later to meet demand. Creepers…all of them.
Offender: Bradenton Marauders, Charlotte Stone Crabs
Both the Marauders and Crabs have given away cowbells as promotional gifts to fans in recent years. They were, no doubt, two of the most irritating games in the history of sports.
Wise Men Bobbleheads
Offender: Nashville Sounds
In 2014, the Sounds are doing their very own “Christmas in (kinda) July” thing by giving out Wise Men bobbleheads over the course of three months. That’s right! For those of you missing a member of your nativity scene, now you can fill it in with baseball bobbleheads!
Hockey Hard Hat Night
Offender: Chicago Blackhawks
In early 2009 the first 10,000 Blackhawks fans arriving for a game against the Penguins in Chicago were given commemorative hard hats. The only problem? Well, hockey fans make a habit of chucking things on the ice—particularly their headgear.
Instead of celebrating a hat trick that night, disgruntled Blackhawks fans “celebrated” their 5-4 overtime loss in much the same way. The major difference being, of course, all the hats were hard.
Offender: Ontario Reign
Thundersticks are noisemakers that come by the pair, which double as something crazy obnoxious to bonk people on the head with. The Ontario Reign are among the many bad decision-makers that have handed these things out to thousands of people.
Offender: St. Louis Cardinals
Believe it or not, the Cardinals are just one of many sports teams to give away haircuts to fans as part of a promotional deal. Haircuts are expensive and all, but this seems like a recipe for very bad decisions.
Offender: New Orleans Zephyrs
It feels unpatriotic and downright un-American to do this, but the Zephyrs mini-American flag giveaway that is scheduled for July 3 just doesn’t sit right. On the off chance the flags are made in the USA, then it’s slightly less awful.
Mike Trout Fish Hat
Offender: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
A while back, the Angeles had a “Mike Trout Fish Hat” giveaway, and the photo here, which was from an entirely different giveaway, doesn’t even begin to do the giveaway justice. The hat was basically your average trucker cap, with a fantastic disembodied, open-mouthed trout crashing through the front.
Offender: Seattle Mariners
In 2011, the Mariners continued with their green trend they’d been building in years prior, introducing a new environmental mascot and giving away bags of compost to the first 5,000 fans to enter Safeco Field. Yay dirt!
KISS the Season Goodbye
Offender: Brockton Rox
In August 2007, the Rox celebrated Gene Simmons’ birthday (for some unknown reason) with special KISS-inspired jerseys that were auctioned off after the game. There was also a booth inside Campanelli Stadium where fans could get their face painted like their favorite member of the band.
Toilet Seat Cushions
Offender: Hudson Valley Renegades
In 2007, the Renegades really lived up to their outlaw name by giving away toilet seat cushions to the first 3,000 fans to enter Dutchess Stadium. Marketing gold would have been giving the next 3,000 one of those paper toilet-seat covers.
Offender: Altoona Curve
In July 2004, the Curve celebrated their second annual “Awful Night,” in which they purposefully give out terrible things to fans. This time fans were treated to useless squares of bubble wrap! If they wanted to make it really awful, they’d pop all the bubbles first.
Removed Gallbladder Photos
Offender: Altoona Curve
In 2006, the Curve continued their tradition with the fourth annual “Awful Night,” this time giving out color photos of GM Todd Parnell’s removed gallbladder to the first 1,000 “lucky” fans who entered the ballpark.
Offender: Florida Marlins
Back in 2010, the Marlins gave out vuvuzelas as a promotional giveaway, and the headlines where absolutely priceless:
- Opinions mixed on Florida Marlins’ vuvuzela giveaway
- Vuvuzelas, World Cup horns, make a racket at Florida Marlins game
- Marlins Deem Vuvuzela Giveaway A Success Despite Complaints
- Vuvuzela in U.S. baseball worst giveaway…ever
Way to go, Marlins.
Offender: West Michigan Whitecaps
In April 2006, the Whitecaps held a promotion in which $1,000 was dropped from a helicopter onto their fans at Fifth Third Ballpark. It was all fun and games until some children were trampled by greedy adults.
Urine Cup Night
Offender: Vero Beach Devil Rays
In July 2008, the minor league Devil Rays hosted an anti-doping night at the ballpark, during which they gave away “urine sample cups at the gates to the first 200 fans in attendance.” Seriously, they couldn’t afford pee cups for more than 200 people?
Offender: Lehigh Valley IronPigs
In June 2013, the Iron Pigs decided to “celebrate life” in the Keystone State by giving away a funeral. GM Kurt Landers said (h/t NESN.com) of the giveaway, “Unquestionably this is the most highly-coveted ‘out-of-the-box’ promotion in IronPigs history.” As someone who was born and raised in Pennsylvania, that actually sounds about right.
Back Hair Removal
Offender: Louisville Bats
In 2007, the Bats held a contest to determine who had the “Hairiest Back in Louisville,” with the winner receiving an awesome “back-hair removal procedure.” Um, ew.
Mike Tyson Ear Night
Offender: Fort Myers Miracle
A decade after heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a match, the Miracle held “Mike Tyson Ear Night.” On June 28, 1997, the first 1,000 fans in attendance received a (presumably) fake ear, which could be taken to several ear-decorating stations set up within the ballpark.
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