Minor League Baseball is known for its creative —sometimes— crazy promotions, and the Nationals High-A affiliate, Potomac Nationals, fits right into that mold. They released their 2018 promo schedule just before Christmas, and y’all, it’s stacked, and it’s lit.
The PNats began working on their promotional schedule pretty quickly following the end of their 2017 season, and everyone in the organization is involved. From front office staff to seasonal employees and the groundskeepers, everyone is invited to share their ideas.
“We meet as a staff early in the off-season,” Director of Media Relations & Broadcasting Mike Weisman told me. “We just throw out ideas and see what everyone agrees on. We try to be as extensive and expansive as possible. We want something for everyone.”
Their hard work and creativity has once again paid-off, and this schedule has to stack up among some of the best in all of the minors, and it definitely offers something for every fan.
“Each off-season, the Potomac Nationals’ front office staff collectively strives to outdo ourselves with respect to what we feel is one of the most innovative and creative promotional schedules in all of Minor League Baseball,“ P-Nats General Manager of Sales, Bryan Holland, said. “We feel extremely confident that we have accomplished our mission of setting the promo slate bar as high as it’s ever been as a franchise with regards to the P-Nats’ 2018 promotional schedule. If you feel different, perhaps you should check your pulse.”
We’ll get right to the point and talk about the bobbleheads, which are the pinnacle of any good promotional calendar. The PNats will be giving away 8 this year: Stephen Strasburg Kentucky Derby Day Jockey Bobblehead (Saturday May 5), Trea Turner Road Runner Bobblehead (Saturday May 26), Victor Robles “Rob Job” Bobblehead (Saturday June 23), Uncle Slam Paint-Your-Own Bobblehead (Saturday July 7), Michael A. Tater (Taylor) Statue (where his face will be on a potato! Saturday July 14), Bryce Harper “Real Slicked Back Hair” Bobblehead (Saturday July 28), Squints (Chauncey Leopardi) from The Sandlot Bobblehead (Saturday August 4), and the Fans’ Choice Bobblehead presented by Loyal Hygiene (Saturday August 25). There’s also an Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez bobblehead honoring the Nats’ former catcher’s recent induction into Cooperstown that is a special giveaway just for PNats season ticket holders. How awesome are these??! Did I mention that Michael Taylor’s face will be on a potato? An actual Michael A. Tater!
The Fans’ Choice bobblehead is currently open for voting (http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t436#pollContainer), and the choices are awesome. The PNats asked for submissions from fans to create the choices, and man is their fan base creative. Weisman told me they received somewhere around 100-150 ideas, and they narrowed them down to:
PNats Manager Tripp Keister holding the 2014 Mills Cup Champtionship Trophy Bobblehead, Bobble Llama, Ryan Zimmerman doing yoga Bobblehead, former mascot Prince Willie Bobblehead, Bobby Bo(nilla) holding a $1.19mil check Bobblehead, MASN TV duo Bob Carpenter and F.P Santangelo Dual Bobblehead, Nats Radio duo Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler Dual Bobblehead, Tanner Roark Team USA Championship Bobblehead with an eagle on his shoulder, Rufus the Rally Pigeon, and Bob Henley waving them home Bobble Arm. There’s a lot of amazing on that list. Y’all might remember that last year’s Fans’ Choice winner was the Dan Kolko and Jayson Werth Dual Bobblehead to commemorate the greatest post-game interview in the history of ever, so this year’s winner has a lot to live up to.
While these giveaways are some of the biggest highlights of the season, they are in no way the complete picture of the promo schedule. Their other giveaways include a 2018 schedule magnet, a Victor Robles “Little League” T-Shirt, a Trea Turner signature oven mitt, and Anthony Rendon hat hair (what?!!!), just to name a few.
There is also an extensive list of Theme Jersey Nights, where the team will don creative jerseys around that game’s theme. Those game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off during the game for charity, and players and coaches will autograph the jersey and present it to the auction winner after the game. Some of the jersey themes include Kentucky Derby Day, Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Night, Stranger Things Night, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi 35th Anniversary Day, and Grease 40th Anniversary Night. The PNats other charity endeavors also include 4 Scout Nights, where Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts get to enjoy pre-game festivities and they can camp out on the field after the game (how cool is that?!), and the Uncle Slam Reading Program. This is an awesome community program that helps encourage kids to read more, and kids who participate in the program are able to attend a game at Pfitzner Stadium. Talk about a win win!
Regarding all the work they do in the community, Weisman said, “we know that it’s a critical element to having a successful organization. Being involved in the community is great for us and we enjoy it.”
Community involvement is a great way to bring new fans to the park and introduce them to the team, while also being able to give something back. I love seeing just how involved the PNats are, both locally and on a bigger scale with some jersey auctions benefitting Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, Autism Speaks, and The National Kidney Foundation.
PNats staff works hard to assure all the giveaways and jerseys are as creative and unique as possible. Weisman told me that they work to create a rough idea, which they then take to the manufacturer. After a little back and forth to iron out the details, the promo item or jersey is born.
“When we have an opportunity to be even more creative, we go that route,” Weisman said.
The creativity definitely pays off, as there has already been national buzz around some of this year’s giveaways. Kevin Millar from Intentional Talk was so excited about the Bryce Harper “Real Slicked Back Hair” Bobblehead that he stumbled while trying to pronounce Potomac. (https://twitter.com/PNats42/status/946519984779513858)
Last year the P-Nats won a prestigious marketing award cementing the fact that they truly are great at what they do. Game days are special at P-Nats games even when it is a game without a special promotions.
We received our Marketing & Promotional Excellence Award from the Carolina League! Planning is underway to make next season even better! pic.twitter.com/wAqS1Mb0M8
— Potomac Nationals (@PNats42) November 3, 2017
There are other theme nights throughout the season that do not coincide with a jersey, although that doesn’t make them any less spectacular. These include Harry Potter Day, Dr. Seuss Day, Cosmo Kramer Appreciation Night, and Coneheads 25th Anniversary Night. For Virginia Tech and George Mason students and alums, there are also nights for each of you. The PNats go all out with their theme nights, even when the jerseys aren’t involved.
To really drive a theme home, the PNats will use signage around the ballpark and put things up on the video board during the game, including changing the photos of visiting players to match the theme of the night. I was at a game last year where all the visiting players received a snap-chat style filter treatment where they all had dog ears and tongues. It was fantastic. Alexis Deegan is responsible for all the graphic design and video board changes incorporated into these promos, and she does an amazing job.
If that’s not enough to get you excited for the 2018 season at The Pfitz, the PNats will be bringing some star power to Woodbridge as they continue their Legends Autograph Series. Celebrities appearances include Robert Wuhl, who played pitching coach Larry Hockett in Bull Durham, Chauncey Leopardi, who played Michael “Squints” Palledorous in The Sandlot, and WWE Legends Jerry “The King” Lawler and Grand Master Sexay. Also on deck is a to-be-announced Potomac Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, to-be-announced motion picture star, and two to-be-announced former standouts with the Washington Bullets and/or Washington Wizards.
In addition to all that, the PNats will offer their typical promotions again this coming season, including Saturday fireworks, themed picnics, Dollar Mondays, Deuces Wild Tuesdays, Winning Wednesdays, Thursday Cheers and College Night, and Kids Day Sundays. Be sure to check out the complete list and dates of their promotions on their website. You can also look into their season ticket packages and mini plans, some of which offer guaranteed giveaways for the premium goodies. The guaranteed giveaways have been a perk for many seasons now.
“It’s a good way for us to give to our fans who are coming to multiple games,” Weisman said.
Definitely seems like a good way to secure a collection of amazing bobbleheads, as fans tend to line up early for a chance to snag one of those.
“I can’t wait for P-Nats fans to bask in the best promo schedule in the history of Potomac Baseball during the 2018 season,” Bryan Holland said. “And we can’t thank The Red, White, and Blue faithful enough for their invaluable support of our wholesome, family-friendly, affordable professional baseball entertainment product at Pfitzner Stadium.”
The other thing that sets the P-Nats apart from other teams is the way they don’t have the red tape that bogs down making decisions. It allows them to do other spur of the moment special events. You may remember when the P-Nats and TalkNats hosted super-fan Jude Oz last year for a game that put together a night of charity along with making a young girl’s dream come true, and then the P-Nats supplied players to help out at a Trea Turner Camp at Georgetown University which Jude Oz and her brother participated in.
So get excxited, y’all, as this summer is shaping up to be a good one for some Minor League fun down at The Pfitz.