The 2016 baseball season is upon us, and those who market our national pastime are busy planning all sorts of promotions, giveaways and special days to draw crowds into their ball parks. Events like Old Timers Day, Bat Day, and Cap Day have become a popular part of the baseball calendar, and have been great successes in the past.
From time to time, however, creative marketers have flopped by going a bit too far with grandiose ideas designed to put people in the seats. Such nights as 10-cent Beer Night, Anti-Disco Night and Zombie Night (below) have caused havoc at the ballpark.
Today’s blog entry will focus on the top 10 most disastrous baseball promotions of all time.
See how many of these you remember.
BLUE TOOTH NIGHT (2011)
Fans flocked to the stadium in 2011 when over-zealous promoters proudly announced they would be holding Blue Tooth Night.
Tickets were at a premium, as fans packed local ballparks to receive (what they thought would be) a wireless electronic device. They left disappointed as the giveaway was nothing more than an orthodontist who was painting people’s teeth blue.
PIPE NIGHT (1976)
Some Oakland fans were none too thrilled in 1976 after the Pipe Night fiasco. While there was no guarantee of what kind of pipe you would get, it would be safe to say that most fans were looking forward to receiving something appropriate for their favorite smoke-able product, and not something from the stadium’s plumbing system. Law suits ensued.
COLONOSCOPY DAY (2005)
Sponsored by a joint collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association in an attempt to show people how preventable colon cancer is, this day never met with much popularity, although it did give new meaning to the term “seventh inning stretch.”
RECYCLED METAL DAY (2006)
Environmentally-conscious Arizona fans brought tons of cans and other recyclable metal objects to Diamondback Stadium in June of 2006, only to find out that the team wasn’t accepting scrap metal — it was giving it out. Fans were not happy, but management was: it helped cut $125,000 off the team’s waste management expenses for the year, enough money for a signing bonus for a Venezuelan shortstop.
SQUIRREL UNDERPANTS WEEKEND (2013)
Sponsored by the League for Animal Decency, this event drew the ire of animal rights activists and everyone else who actually tried to get a pair of briefs on a squirrel.
This bloody 3-day event also saw an uptick in visits to the emergency room and the dispensing of rabies shots.
It was canceled in favor of the more popular Doggy Diaper Day in 2014.
INERT GAS NIGHT (2012)
Although promoters should have seen the problems with this event on the drawing board, they didn’t, citing the popularity of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory and the desire to teach American kids more about science as the inspiration of the giveaway. The event backfired in a big way when it was necessary for the NSA to call in the National Guard for security purposes.
DRESS LIKE A CHICKEN NIGHT (1999)
The original idea of this event was to offer half-price tickets to anyone dressed like a chicken in order to promote the latest album I’m So Clucking Tired by the pop band, The Chickeneers.(right) But things quickly got out of hand when belligerent fans were seen grabbing each other by the legs and screaming “Make a wish!”
THE GREAT SEED CATCH (1987)
In an attempt to promote healthy snacking, the California Sunflower Seeds Growers hosted The Great Seed Catch in several ballparks throughout the state in 1987. Sunflower seeds were blasted from cannons, and participants were judged according to the amount of seeds they could hold in their mouths. In case of a tie, a seed-off was held until a winner was determined. The winner was given a lifetime supply of the nutritious snack. The event, however, was marred by tragedy, as flocks of hungry birds swarmed the stadiums, causing multiple injuries. On the plus side, Hollywood was inspired to produce The Birds Part II, directed by Quentin Tarantino.
FERRET DAY (2002)
While a fan favorite, Ferret Day was not a big hit with stadium workers, as the ferrets refused to sit in their assigned seats.
Promoters decided to cancel future Ferret Days in favor of the “Buy a Box Seat for Your Bird Day.” Attendees, however, were warned in advance that all birds should be in cages. many ballparks continue this event today.
UNDERWEAR ON YOUR HEAD DAY (1997)
This is a perfect example of a good idea that went horribly wrong. Ticket-buyers were offered substantial discounts if they would wear their underwear on their heads while attending a game.
While this met with great popularity with those who could not otherwise afford high-priced tickets, those already having purchased tickets became annoyed, removing their underwear at the gate and demanding refunds. The authorities were called in to squash potential riots and to hold blankets up while people changed. A pixelated video of this can be seen at YouTube. It’s pretty good if you squint just right.