The Craziest Promotions in Sports History

Zack Pumerantz@z_pumerantzAnalyst IIISeptember 13, 2012

The Craziest Promotions in Sports History

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    Teams will do anything to lure fans to the stadium. Mini bats to the first 300 fans, plastic toilet seats to the first 500, pink thongs to the first 1,000.

    But over the years, several squads have made promotional entertainment an art. The creative minds behind these unique clubs have tried anything to attract a larger audience, and for that we thank them.

    This melting pot of insanity features ideas we never knew were humanly acceptable, and we're now ready to fully appreciate them. Let's check out the craziest promotions in sports history.

    These are the ones that had fans hesitantly racing to the ballpark.

20. Terrell Owens Unappreciation Night

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    From star receiver in the '05 Super Bowl to Philadelphia pariah. Oh, how Terrell Owens snowballed back in 2006.

    But it was the work of Atlantic City Surfs general manager Greg Lynch and radio personality Angelo Cataldi that truly signaled Owens' departure. 

    Terrell Owens Unappreciation Night on August 31 of  '06 featured plenty of creativity.

    Two upper box tickets to anyone who brought T.O. merchandise (to be burned on the field after the game), 81-cent hot dogs dedicated to the greasiest No. 81 ever to play for the Eagles and, finally, 40 suite tickets to the fan who gave the best reason as to why they hated Owens.

    It was a priceless New Jersey evening.

19. Office Space Night

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    For those Michael Bolton fans out there who were willing to show their "O face," August 7, 2009 was a legendary day, thanks to the Dunedin Blue Jays (Single-A Jays).

    To complement the flair competition and trivia contest, patrons were allowed to smash printers in style. We expect the following day's headlines to have read, "Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta."

18. Speed Dating Night

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    The Lowell Spinners (Class-A affiliate of the Red Sox) continue to host Milan Lucic's "Rock & Jock" charity softball game every summer. But this year, a week before the game, his Bruins teammate Tyler Seguin was the main attraction.

    On August 15, fans were offered a private suite with Boston's most eligible bachelor, with the opportunity to ask anything they pleased and, likely, toss back a couple Irish Car Bombs in the process. Perhaps the 20-year-old finally found his one-and-only, or the next Gina.

17. Jose Canseco Juice Box Night

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    While the use of steroids, and other illegal drugs, is obviously a very serious matter...we also recognize that there are ways to have fun with a serious situation. We also see this as a great way to educate our fans, especially children, on the negative repercussions of illegal substance abuse of any kind.

    And Flyers General Manager Ed Hart certainly did have fun with it, as his Flyers of Fullerton hosted Juice Box Night when Jose Canseco and the rival Long Beach Armada arrived.

    The promotion featured 500 juice boxes, each given away with a flier that detailed the dangers of steroid use. Looks like Mike Ditka is no longer the "juice box guy."

16. Flash-Card Football Night

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    I knew it was either going to be phenomenal, or I was about to become the biggest goon in sports marketing.

    Turns out director of promotions Steven "Dream" Weaver became an icon, as his baffling stunt produced success. During Portland's 1989 season opener, 1,500 fans were given flashcards. These Section 5 and Section 6 fans were then required to vote for either a run or a pass during the Vikings' second series of downs in the third quarter.

    First they voted for pass. Complete. Then for a run. Curtis Delgardo around the left side for six. A brilliant citywide effort.

15. Used Car Night

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    The San Antonio Missions took the term "promotional giveaway" to a new level when they presented Used Car Night in 2010.

    Word has it that '91 Jaguars and '01 Mustangs were featured within the automobile litter, so this was no heinous, gas-guzzling Mitsubishi giveaway. This was the real deal.

14. Pregnancy Night

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    This water-breaking promotion reeked of hormonal insanity, but the Brooklyn Cyclones seemed ready to get their hands wet on Pregnancy Night.

    The epic evening featured pregnant cravings such as pickles, ice cream and anchovy pizza, pregnant women being allowed onto the field in the seventh inning to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," pregame Lamaze classes on the centerfield grass and free Cyclones Season Tickets for anyone who gave birth before the end of the game.

    A gooey experience for those in attendance.

13. Second Chance Night

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    April 21, 2007 was a night of redemption for violators in the Fresno area, thanks to the minor league Grizzlies.

    Those who brought in traffic violations were able to purchase two Field Level Reserves for the price of one. But naturally, all violators had to sign pledges never to commit road crimes ever again.

    There was free admission to all probation officers, a mug-shot slideshow with celebrity faces and on-field contests that left losers temporarily in holding cells. Yeah, it was that kind of night.

12. Cash Drop Night

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    The West Michigan Whitecaps decided to take the Peter Griffin route back in 2006, when they dropped $1,000 from the Hindenpeter onto their field.

    With fans running rampant and tripping over each other for a chance to haul in those dollars, one seven-year-old boy wound up in the hospital. 

    Team officials didn't sound too concerned. “It’s for fun and games," said one. "This is why we have everybody sign a waiver.”

11. Jay Buhner Buzz Cut Night

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    Bald-stached Jay Buhner was a beloved slugger for the Ken Griffey Jr.-led Mariners of the '90s. And his popularity peaked when he hosted Buzz Cut Night.

    The annual event had fans who shaved their heads (or were already bald) earning free admission and a free shirt. And, if you were lucky, Buhner was there with his clippers.

    Bald is the new beautiful.

10. Britney Spears Baby Safety Night

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    When hillbilly pop star and Mommy of the Year candidate Britney Spears was caught driving with her baby son on her lap instead of in a car seat, the minor league Newark Bears decided to have some fun.

    It was in August of 2006 when those who dressed as a baby, brought a baby toy or brought their actual baby (under the age of four) got in for free. And received a pamphlet detailing proper baby-safety precautions.

    And hopefully a complimentary Kevin Federline douche-beard.

9. Bobble-Couch Night

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    Thanks to the Lake Elsinore Storm, we have a new appreciation for Scientology's wacky underbelly. That doesn't mean we agree.

    In June of 2006, the Single-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres offered their first 1,000 fans a bobble-couch to honor Tom Cruise's insane House-of-Pain jump-around on Oprah's show. But to further enhance the evening, the Storm offered a couch-jumping contest, a history of Cruise's films and tabloid appearances and, predictably, a table with information about Scientology.

8. Silent Night

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    The Charleston Riverdogs and Mike Veeck (son of then-White Sox owner Bill Veeck) have only scraped the edge with Silent night, but they'll be back for more. And with Bill Murray as part owner, the team is naturally willing to try anything.

    Duct tape was handed out and ushers were replaced with librarians, while sign language was used to introduce players. We can only expect that "Hey Peanut Guy" signs were flooding Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park as well.

7. Liposuction Giveaway

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    The Mahoning Valley Scrappers were once a little known affiliate of the Indians organization. But after their hefty 2009 promotion, they're now quite renowned.

    Of five finalists who were invited to the July 8th Ladies Night Celebration, one winner was selected for a free liposuction treatment.

    But wait, there's more. That same night was "All You Can Eat” Wednesday. A fitting day all around.

6. 10-Cent Beer Night

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    After holding a flawless Nickel-beer Day in 1971, the Indians figured a 10-cent encore was necessary.

    But 25,134 fans consuming 60,000 Genesee beers (limited to six per purchase) led to pure chaos. Three stolen bases (literally robbed), 19 streakers, 50 cops, nine arrests, frightened children, soaring objects.

    The next Beer promotion, humorously held a month later, was limited to two brewskis per purchase.

5. Nobody Night

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    Flipping the script completely, the Charleston Riverdogs decided to attempt the unthinkable. Mike Veeck strikes again (although this actually happened one year before Silent Night).

    In an attempt to break the record for professional baseball's lowest attendance, Tampa's Class-A affiliate club locked out everybody but employees, scouts and media members. But fans were left smiling, as the team hosted a parking lot party with discounted food and beer.

    Once the fifth inning came around (and the game became official), patrons were allowed into the stadium, after having to climb ladders behind the outfield wall and peer through cracks in the fence to watch.

4. Pre-Planned Funeral Night

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    Back in 2003, the Hagerstown Suns taught us it's never too early to plan for a stylish exit.

    One (un)lucky fan received a smorgasbord of funeral arrangements...casket, viewing at a funeral home, cremation and burial. Hagerstown successfully put the fun in funeral.

3. Disco Demolition Night

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    This was the night disco died.

    When beloved Chicago disc jockey Steve Dahl was canned from a local radio station that was changing their format from rock to disco, he was determined to get hilarious revenge. He was hired by a rival rock station and, with broadcast partner Garry Meier and, naturally, Mike Veeck, planned the perfect gameday promotion.

    On July 12, 1979, during a two-night double-header, Chi-town fans were given the opportunity to trade in their unwanted disco LPs for an admission fee of 98 cents (radio station 97.9). These records would be tossed in with the rest and burned at center field.

    But a festive idea naturally became mayhem, as six people reported minor injuries and 36 were arrested, while the young Veeck was blacklisted from Major League Baseball.

    "The second that first guy shimmied down the outfield wall, I knew my life was over," said Veeck.

2. Awful Night

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    The Altoona Curve are determined to turn awful into amazing. Since 2003, this Pennsylvania-based minor league squad has hosted Awful Night, a themed evening sure to spark a roller-coaster of emotions.

    Bottomless cups and sporks, horrific Marilyn Monroe renditions (pictured), Hot Coffee Chugging Contest, David Hasselhoff videos, spam sandwiches, pit-stained T-shirt tosses. Pure light-hearted brutality.

1. George Costanza Night

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    A night simply dedicated to the hilariously frugal friend of Jerry Seinfeld became stranger by the minute. In an attempt to honor the Season 5 Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza does everything the opposite (and ironically gets a girlfriend, his own place and a job with the Yankees), the Fort Myers Miracle had a night where everything was done backwards.

    The scoreboard started in the ninth inning, fans were paid for parking, box seats were sold at reserve prices, the team wore road uniforms, the men's and women's restrooms were switched (oh, the horror) and, best of all, players asked for fans' autographs after the game. It was a historic outing.

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