Baseball is in the air after an unforgettable win on Opening Day. The unseasonable warmth and spring training in their new home in West Palm Beach had most Nats fans itching for opening day versus the Marlins on April 3rd. We may not know who those American heroes are who threw out those first pitches, but we do know it will be a heck of a season cheering on this formidable team. Nothing quite compares to enjoying a baseball game in person. The sights, the smells, and the sounds will captivate new fans and old. Not to mention all of the free giveaways and promotional games, because who doesn’t enjoy free stuff! Regardless of what it is, it just feels good, which is why mediocre food samples at your local Costco are so appealing. Between the Nationals and the Class A-Advanced affiliate Potomac Nationals, there are going to be a plethora of giveaways. Here’s a list of some of our favorites for DMV residents to take advantage.
Giveaways and promotional games have been listed in chronological order:
Monday April 3rd vs Miami Marlins: Magic 8 Ball
Nothing quite compares to the excitement of opening day. A new season is upon us and this glorious day marks the beginning of spring soon to be followed by summer. The first 20,000 fans to enter the park will receive a Nationals Magic 8 Ball. I have many a question for this magical 8 Ball. Will the Nats finally win a playoff series? I don’t know how many home playoff meltdowns I can witness in person. I’m still recovering from the devastating loss that was the 9-7 Game 5. Who will be our closer? Can Murphy possibly repeat last season? Will Trea Turner continue to impress in his first full season as a pro? In reality, the spherical prognosticator provides answers such as “Sorry, you’re out” and “I foresee a homerun.”
April 14th vs Phillies: Daniel Murphy Bobblehead
Daniel Murphy was one of the best acquisitions in recent memory. Not only was he signed from the division nemesis New York Mets, but he was the best player on the Nats last season and was on the cusp of an MVP victory. I am excited to see if Murphy can repeat last season. Top to bottom this lineup is one of the best in baseball and if everyone can play up to their potential, we will be an offensive juggernaut. Murphy is donning a silver bat, which is appropriate for the silver slugger. Murph batted an impressive .349 with 25 homeruns and 104 runs batted in. Fingers crossed that Murphy stays consistent and Harper can return to form. You have to love preseason optimism!
Saturday April 29th vs Mets: first Pups in the Park night
It doesn’t get much better than baseball, beer, and dogs, the furry kind. It’s take man’s best friend to the park night! Don’t have a dog? Borrow a friend’s or just take in a win with pups from all over the greater D.C. area. As an avid dog lover this is one of my favorite promotions the team does. You’ll get to see pups of all shapes and sizes take over the park for the night. It truly is one of the most fun nights seeing man and man’s best friend coming together to enjoy America’s pastime.
Friday May 12th vs Phillies: Trea Turner Bobblehead
This is one of the best bobblehead of the season. There are several other promotions that are enticing but Trea Turner diving in for a stolen base is one that every collector needs. Often time’s bobbleheads are standing at home plate or rounding the bases. This action packed bobblehead is quite unique. It’s fitting to see the fastest man alive doing what he does best; using his speed to create scoring opportunities for his club. When he’s not covering the field with his speed, he’s generally getting on base with it. He is one of the most exciting players in the league this year and I can’t wait to see him play a full season in the majors.
Sunday May 14th vs Phillies Mother’s Day Brunch
This isn’t the bottomless mimosas that many of us in D.C. are familiar with but mom will appreciate it nonetheless. Your ticket offers an all-inclusive brunch and a ticket to the game. This is a perfect excuse to take mom to a game. The promotion offers delicious food and a chance to watch Harper blast a homer in person. He has 15 career home runs against our northern foes. The first 5,000 fans will also receive a Mother’s Day Carnation. In case you forget and need a last minute gift for mom, your favorite team has you covered.
Wednesday May 24th vs Mariners Max Scherzer Snow Globe
Max Scherzer is as cold as ice. The CY young winner does not shy away from the big moments and has ice water running through his veins. He is an unrivaled competitor and wants the ball in the most important spots. His passion is contagious and you can’t help but root for him. It was a no brainer to encapsulate the stone cold competitor in a snow globe. The globe will appropriately feature Ks as the fake snow. I will never forget the incredible performances by Scherzer that I have been lucky enough to see in person. Witnessing his historic performance where he tied the strikeout record at 20 was magical. A solo home run in the 9th cut the Nats’ lead to 3-2. Max being the ultimate competitor battled back to strikeout 2 of the last 3 batters he faced to tie the record at 20. The crowd was in awe yet absolutely electric. Maxy Ice strikes again!
Saturday May 27th vs Padres: Chewbacca Koozie
Arguably the best character in the Star Wars universe gets a well-deserved promotion. Chewie is one of the most loyal and selfless creatures making him a fan favorite. This is one of my top promotions of the year and you can guarantee I’ll be drinking a beer with my new Chewie Koozie. A furry coat keeps your hand warm and your beer cold. It even includes Chewie’s iconic utility belt. I’m also almost as excited to see the new food and beer options as I am for the games. One addition that I am certain of is local brewery Fair Winds (based in Lorton, VA) will be making its Nationals Park debut at the District Drafts stand. Last year District Drafts featured local favorites Atlas, Old Ox, DC Brau, Port City and many other locally based favorites.
Wednesday June 14th vs Braves: Patriotic Tank Top
Baseball is the self-proclaimed past time of America. It is only fitting that one of the numerous giveaways this season is a patriotic tank top! What bro doesn’t love Merica, summer and sick tank tops? This couldn’t have come at a better time with summer in full swing and tank top season upon us. This will certainly come in handy for those blistering summer day games at the park. It doesn’t get much better than a cold adult beverage in hand while wearing your seasonal tank top presented by Budweiser. That is always one of my favorite moments of summer. The first 15,000 fans 21+ will receive the patriotic tank thanks to the good folks at Budweiser.
Wednesday July 26th vs Brewers: Nationals Fedora
Every man should have a fedora or two in their repertoire. They are the epitome of class and truly complete any outfit. Fedoras often times catch a bad rap from haters and trolls online. Look back in US history for examples of classy individuals effortlessly rocking the iconic hat. You don’t genuinely appreciate fashion if you can recognize the fedora as a must have item. Thankfully the Nats have you covered with their giveaway when the Brewers come to town. The black wicker fedora is complemented by a red band donning the curly W. Be prepared to win on and off the field with this high fashion accessory.
Friday September 29th vs Pirates: Oktoberfest Beer Stein
After last years success the Nats are back with yet another Oktoberfest celebration. For the second consecutive season they will be giving away a team branded beer stein for collectors and beer drinkers alike. The first 20,000 fans age 21+ will receive the stein, which will come in handy not only throughout the Friday night game but also in the future. I still have my stein from last season. When it is not on display on my mantle next to Jayson Werth’s Game 5 walk off bobblehead, it is keeping me properly hydrated on the weekends.
Make your way to the friendly confines of Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia, to watch your Potomac Nationals. It is conveniently located off I-95 and not too far for most DMV fans. This year the P-Nats have quite the array of promotional nights and giveaways that you do not want to miss. A few of the most intriguing are the Bryce Harper “Gobblehead,” Mighty Ducks Night, the Dan Kolko and Jayson Werth bobblehead, and the “Ode to Tommy John Surgery.”
I reached out to Mike Weisman, the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the P-Nats, for an inside scoop on what to expect and the creative process behind the giveaways. “We decide on a certain time that the entire staff will sit down and spend a couple of hours planning the entire promotional calendar,” Weisman explained. “Everyone brings ideas to the table and we go in knowing that everything is possible and to put out ideas that seem crazy, because sometimes those end up being the most creative ones.” One of the more outlandish giveaways this season is an “Ode to Tommy John Surgery.” Weisman described it as an “elbow figurine with a removable tendon, similar to the game Operation. This was one of those crazy ideas that was thrown out during our creative process and it stuck.” This is absolutely brilliant. Many a pitcher has made their way through Pfitzner Stadium on their road to recovery from Tommy John surgery. Weisman further described the creative process behind the giveaway: “The Nationals have been very successful rehabbing pitchers that have torn their elbow and gone through the surgery, but also at drafting players either coming off of surgery or with knowledge that they would probably need surgery shortly after the draft. Many of those players have come through the P-Nats on their rehabilitation process and on their way to the big leagues.”
May 13th vs Red Sox Bryce Harper “Gobblehead” (Half Man/Half Turkey)
I have no idea what the hell this means but I am highly intrigued. Bryce Harper as a half man (God of a man) and half turkey is hard to imagine but I can’t wait to see. Will his glorious beard be turned into an outstanding gobbler? The Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations, Mike Weisman, explained this bobblehead as collaboration with their “Pfitzgiving celebration,” which is an ode to being halfway to Thanksgiving. A tip of the cap to Weisman and the creative team for putting together so many unique and fun events. This night will also feature a fall-themed atmosphere and a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixins. Thanksgiving is easily one of my favorite holidays and deserves to be celebrated any time of the year. I will certainly be in attendance for this one of a kind collectable and to eat a full turkey dinner.
July 22nd vs Lynchburg Mighty Ducks Night
This is my personal favorite promotion. As a 90’s kid, the Mighty Duck’s Franchise was a childhood staple. We can all remember watching the first film and wanting nothing more than to strap on some skates and beat the Hawks. The franchise will be celebrating its 25th year anniversary this summer. What better way to join in the festivities than with a promotional night at Pfitzner. Your Potomac Nationals will be hosting a party that includes commemorative jerseys, a giveaway, and a celebrity guest (Gordon Bombay, Charlie Conway or hopefully Goldberg with a fresh goalie kit to bomb out first pitch). Minor league clubs always pull out all the stops for their outlandish yet incredibly creative jerseys. One of the best minor league jerseys came from the Norfolk Tides. The Baltimore Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate wore jerseys with the Nickelodeon characters’ entire image on the front. It was absolutely brilliant (especially when you consider their family friendly demographic). (Insert picture of SpongeBob jersey)
July 29th vs Pelicans Stephen Strasburg Flamethrower Bobblehead
With Max Scherzer still recovering from a finger injury, Stephen Strasburg will get the ball on opening day. This will be his third opening day start so he is no stranger to the momentous occasion. The former P-Nats will be honored on July 29th with a “Flamethrower Bobblehead.” The flame-throwing righty has made several rehab starts at Pfitzner. Early on in his career Strasburg’s fastball topped 100 mph. It only makes sense he is immortalized in all his glory with this heater of a collectible.
August 19th vs Dash Anthony Rendon “Real Electric Hair” Bobblehead
Tony “Two Bags” arguably had the best hair on the team last season. Many would point to the iconic well kempt lettuce of Harper but Rendon’s out of control afro became iconic. The moment came on an off day when Rendon hypothetically and literally let his hair down. Social media was a blaze with pictures and memes from this glorious moment. He must use quite a bit of gel to slick that beast back and under his hat. I for one am glad the P-Nats made the right decision in immortalizing that incredible flow with a bobblehead.
August 26th Fans Choice Bobblehead Dan Kolko and Jayson Werth
“Jayson, you’ve talked about people maybe criticizing your age coming into this season and you’ve said you had a little bit left in the tank, you’re convinced of it. How do you feel just about the way you’ve been swinging it and what you’ve been able to accomplish over the last four days?” a giddy Dan Kolko asks an out of breath Jayson Werth. To which he brilliantly replies, “Yeah, well those people can kiss my ass!” Werth not only has the look of a WWE veteran but the response was that of one too. The hilarious exchange came after a 12th inning game winning single versus the future World Series champs. This was easily one of my favorite moments of last season and will be memorialized with a bobblehead that was chosen by us fans. I don’t know about you but I voted for the Kolko and Werth moment. I wouldn’t blame you if you went with the “Bobble Llama” instead. This is a must have for fans and collectors alike!
Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate the Syracuse Chiefs have several interesting promotions for our out of town fans. The Chiefs are a huge part of the local Syracuse community and a stepping-stone for some of your favorite players. With rosters being announced any day, there are some exciting players to keep an eye out for in Triple-A ball. Veteran utility man and Northern Virginia native Brandon Snyder is certainly someone to keep an eye on. The Westfield High School graduate didn’t quite make the active roster but is considered to be the next man up. Dusty Baker told him to stay ready. Fans will also get a glimpse at some top prospects in Victor Robles (thankfully not traded this offseason), Erik Fedde, Wilmer Difo and hopefully Andrew Stevenson after an impressive spring.
On opening day the Chiefs GM Jason Smorol promises that if it is not at least 53 degrees, then fans can exchange their tickets for any game in April or May. This is a brilliant promotion. Nothing is worse than counting down the days only to encounter one last jab from winter. Smorol is a man of the people for this offer.
The Chiefs look to celebrate the rich history of baseball in Syracuse with their “Generations Bobblehead Series.” This features five generations of former Chiefs greats including Trea Turner (4/22), Deion Sanders (5/13), Stephen Strasburg (6/24), Bobby Cox (7/19), and Thurman Munson (8/19). Where else can you add a Deion Sanders bobblehead to the collection? I can imagine these becoming quite popular amongst collectors, not to mention legendary skipper Bobby Cox and MVP catcher Thurman Munson who played for the Chiefs in 1969 before getting called up to the Yankees. Munson was batting a remarkable .363 before his promotion to the big leagues.
Director of Community Relations and Social Media, Jeffrey Irizarry, was happy to speak with us on this exciting promotion and what. “Professional baseball in Syracuse has a long-running history dating back to the Syracuse Stars of the 1880s,” Irizarry explained. “The Chiefs have been a part of that lineage for nearly a century. Countless stars, past and present, have cut their teeth and honed their skills in Syracuse on their way to Major League careers.” He further explained the idea behind the series, “our selections represent just a few of the many talented players who have journeyed through Syracuse. Each player selected represents a particular era in Syracuse Chiefs history defined by team success, uniform style and unique or important moments.”
On May 13th with Scranton in town, Deion Sanders will be immortalized with a bobblehead. Many people are probably unaware of his fairly lengthy baseball career, which culminated with the Chiefs. Irizarry schooled me on Primetime’s play in Syracuse, “Deion Sanders brought his signature flair and talent to the Syracuse SkyChiefs (1997-2006) for 25 games during the 2001 season. It was his final destination during his 11-year professional baseball career. Notably, he logged his last career hit in SkyChiefs uniform. In true “Primetime” fashion, he homered and hit an RBI single in his final game in Syracuse.”
The Chiefs will also be giving away FIVE replica jerseys throughout the season, which has become a trendy giveaway amongst many teams. Jerseys are one of the more sought after promotional items. The jerseys this season include: Chiefs Road Jersey (1 adult Day & 1 youth Day), a military themed jersey (adult), a Stars & Stripes themed jersey (adult), and a mystery jersey (adult) to be announced on Re-Opening Day (6/24). One can only imagine what the mystery jersey will entail.
The Chiefs will feature 20 post-game fireworks extravaganzas including the largest to ever grace NBT Bank Stadium on the 4th! Some other must have giveaways and promotional nights include a light saber on Star Wars Night, Ugly Sweater Night, Thursday Night Football (6/22) which will include a surprise NFL player appearance, Zombie Night, and Country Night. I have no idea what Zombie Night is but I am certainly intrigued. I would have loved to take in a game as a kid dressed as a zombie. Another new promotion added this year that we can all appreciate is 25 cent hot dogs. The Nats graciously give us $1 hot dogs but imagine eating FOUR dogs for the price of one! The lines for the bathroom would be quite lengthy but well worth it. There are many family friendly promotions that will be sure to draw a crowd in upstate New York. Enjoy these amazing promotions and giveaways all while watching some current and future Nats play.
We never received responses from the Harrisburg Senators or the Hagerstown Suns to write about the promotions for all of the affiliates; perhaps in the future.