Aug 23, 2007

ESPN: Is Mr. Met worthy of the Hall of Fame?

ESPN's Page 2 has a fun piece about Mr. Met's nomination for the Mascot Hall of Fame. Mr. Met was the first-ever professional baseball mascot, as well as the first "costumed character" in pro-sports. He made his debut in New York on April 14, 1964.

This year's nominees for the Mascot Hall of Fame are:

Professional Category:
1. Youpie - Former Montreal Expos and Current Montreal Canadiens
2. Mr. Met - New York Mets
3. Hugo the Hornet - New Orleans Hornets
4. The Coyote - San Antonio Spurs
5. The Oriole Bird - Baltimore Orioles
6. The Mariner Moose

Collegiate Category:
1. Lil Red - University of Nebraska
2. Sebastian the Ibis - University of Miami
3. Smokie - University of Tennessee
4. Brutus Buckeye - Ohio State University
5. Big Red - Western Kentucky University
6. Sparty - Michigan State University

You can vote for your favourite mascot here.


Aug 18, 2007

How the Giants got Hank Aaron to record a video tribute to Bonds

One of the memorable highlights of Barry Bonds' record breaking home run earlier this month was the video message from Hank Aaron that they showed on the big screen. points us to this story from Newsweek, that explains how it came about.
The Secret Videotape: How the San Francisco Giants got Hank Aaron to record a video tribute to Barry Bonds.

By David A. Kaplan
Updated: 6:29 a.m. ET Aug 9, 2007

Aug. 9, 2007 - Hank Aaron’s measured video tribute to Barry Bonds on Tuesday night was the final act in a magnificently choreographed production put on by the San Francisco Giants. It was a 51-second piece of stagecraft greeted by 43,000 stunned fans with a standing ovation. And it was a tribute to the adage, “It never hurts to ask.”

“I would like to offer my congratulations to Barry Bonds on becoming baseball’s career home-run leader,” Aaron said in a surprise taped tribute played on the big video scoreboard at AT&T Park, seconds after Bonds hit No. 756. “It is a great accomplishment, which required skill, longevity and determination.” Aaron, whose record of surpassing Babe Ruth stood for 33 years, then offered his “best wishes to Barry and his family,” and then rather cryptically added, “My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams.”


Earlier this summer, the team approached Aaron in Manhattan after a regular meeting of officials from all 30 clubs. (Aaron is a senior executive for the Atlanta Braves.) “We thought this might be Hank’s opportunity” to explain his position, says Larry Baer, the Giants chief operating officer, who had the conversation with Aaron. “I didn’t think he’d do it. But you never know until you ask.”

To Baer’s surprise, Aaron replied, “That’s something I think I can do.” (Through his lawyer, Aaron declined to comment to NEWSWEEK.) Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, a close friend of Aaron’s, offered his blessings, and in early July, Aaron’s carefully written and vetted statement was videotaped in his offices in Atlanta. A single copy of the tape was sent to Baer in San Francisco, who then kept a copy with him as he attended games around the country as Bonds approached No. 756. Only a few Giants officials knew of the tape, as did the commissioner’s office and scoreboard-keepers at ballparks where Bonds was playing. Those scoreboard officials had to be briefed ahead of time to be sure the tape was compatible with the local video and audio systems. “I’ve been carrying around this tape for weeks,” says Baer. “Next to the formula for Coca-Cola, it was the most secretive piece of information out of Atlanta.”

The countdown to No. 756 began a few weeks ago with Bay Area quarterback legend Joe Montana, who recorded congratulations that were played after home run No. 752. Then came Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Muhammad Ali. Within the Giants clubhouse, as well as across talk radio, the guessing game became who would appear after the record homer. The Giants’ well-kept surprise Tuesday night provided the answer.


Aug 11, 2007

Knitting at Shea Stadium

From the New York Times, a story about a growing trend in sports promotions - "Stitch N' Pitch Day":
The Mets and local needle arts stores sold more than 800 discounted tickets for last night’s game against the Braves, when people from all over the metropolitan area gathered to knit, crochet and embroider in the stands.


“The rhythms of baseball fit the rhythms of needle arts,” Barbara Paley, marketing specialist for the National NeedleArts Association, said yesterday.

The Stitch N’ Pitch program had its unofficial start in 2005, when retail needle arts stores in Seattle began a program at Mariners games, Paley said. The national association facilitated the nationwide expansion of the program last year, with 15 major league teams involved.

The Mets, new to the program this year, are one of 25 teams that scheduled days for needle arts enthusiasts this season. Patty Parrish, executive director of association, said in a recent telephone interview that her organization had unsuccessful discussions with the Yankees.


Stitch N’ Pitch is merely an extension of a long history of large social groups meeting to work on needle arts projects. There are social gatherings around the world, often called Stitch ’n Bitch groups, for knitters and crocheters to meet and chat, needles in hand.


With Stitch N’ Pitch, Major League Baseball teams can reach out to people who need more than a game to stay interested. One of those was Debbie Stoller, who said in a telephone interview last week that she usually rooted for whichever New York team was the most successful and had never been to a baseball game.

The slower pace of baseball makes it more suited to this type of event than other sports, but apparantly the Portland Trail Blazers have hosted a similar event in the past. Does anyone know of other sports teams who have hosted "knitting nights"?

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Aug 8, 2007

This player is brought to you by...

In a story about Rich “El Guapo” Garces in Boston Magazine, writer John Gonzalez describes the PA announcement when Garces is at bat for the Nashua Pride (New Hampshire), of the Can-Am League:
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, introducing…El Guapo! El Guapo is brought to you by the New Hampshire Business Resource Center in Concord. If you have any questions about any aspect of doing business in the state of New Hampshire, visit That’s”
Is sponsoring a player like this common in minor league baseball?

I've seen lots of player endorsement & sponsorship deals - but it's pretty rare that individual player sponsorships are part of the in-game entertainment. For example, Sidney Crosby has a sponsorship deal with Reebok - but you would never hear "Goal scored by #87 Sidney Crosby, brought to you by Reebok" inside any NHL arena.

The closest I've seen in hockey was at the Ottawa 67's last year, where each player's headshot on the video scoreboard had a unique sponsor logo.

Any other examples of in-game player sponsorships?

Via Deadspin: