The proof of a successful promotion can be found in the results, and that certainly was the case for the winner of Minor League Baseball’s July Promotion of the Month. The Frisco RoughRiders took home the honor, earning the Texas League franchise a spot in the Promo Seminar’s Golden Bobblehead competition, for its Dude Perfect Appearance on July 20.
The RoughRiders set a single-game attendance record for Dr Pepper Ballpark of 12,067 by welcoming the five Dudes who form the trick-shot making group that has become a viral sensation over the past few years. The Frisco-based group has earned more than 32 million subscribers and 5 billion views on YouTube as well as their own show on Nickelodeon, making their appearance one of the most anticipated in team history. In fact, the appearance was the earliest sellout in RoughRiders history, with all of the tickets being snapped up three days before the game.
The wait is over, folks. The next round of Golden Bobblehead nominees is upon us as Minor League Baseball releases its candidates for the best promotion for the month of July. The winner receives an automatic entry into the coveted Golden Bobblehead competition at the Minor League Baseball Promo Seminar this September in Des Moines.
As has been the case all season, there is no shortage of great candidates, but there can only be one winner. In fact, if you have not been following along and tracking the Golden Bobblehead nominees (shame on you!) catch up on all of the brilliant and creative promotions at minor league ballparks this season by clicking here.
This month’s nominees were selected from a plethora of entries and embrace the fun, fan-friendly and community-minded spirit of the sport. Each month, teams can either nominate promotions or events of their own or other teams for the award. The winner qualifies as a finalist for the Golden Bobblehead competition at Promo Seminar held in Des Moines, where they will present their promotion before their peers, who will then vote on winners in the following categories:
- Best Theme Night
- Best In-Game Promotion
- Best Non-Gameday Event
- Best Community Promotion or Event
- Best Digital Campaign or Activation
Now, on to the nominees:
After helping build the Myrtle Beach Pelicans into one of the most creative teams in the minors, Andy Milovich is getting called up to Frisco. The veteran operator will stay within the Chuck Greenberg family of minor league teams and take over as the RoughRiders’ president and general manager.
Milovich has served as the Pelicans’ vice president and GM since 2012, following an 18-year run with Palisades Baseball that included overseeing the West Virginia Power and Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Milovich has been the driving force behind Myrtle Beach’s success, whether it be literally taking one for the team by getting a prostate exam during the seventh-inning stretch of a cancer awareness promotion, or streamlining the cross-promotional opportunities between the Pelicans and their big league affiliate Chicago Cubs.
Myrtle Beach won the Baseball America Freitas Award for overall business excellence following the 2015 season. Milovich was named the Carolina League Executive of the Year in 2014.
“Since our ownership group began operating the RoughRiders in August 2014, we have re-invented our ballpark experience, created exciting new ways to connect with our fans and raised the bar in all areas of our business,” said Greenberg, who also owns the State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League. “Today’s announcement of Andy Milovich taking over as our new President and General Manager is the next step in the RoughRiders reaching new heights at the ballpark, in our community and within the baseball industry.”
Milovich joins a talented Frisco front office and will still supervise the operations in Myrtle Beach, which are now led by recently promoted GM Ryan Moore. Jason Dambach remains as Frisco’s executive vice president while assisting the State College franchise.
More details about the move can be found in press releases issued by Myrtle Beach and Frisco.
Minor league baseball has developed a well-earned reputation for embracing the outrageous, from increasingly bizarre team names (you’re on the clock, Fayetteville) to over-the-top dining options (has anyone ever finished a Fifth-Third Burger?), to offbeat and sometimes-controversial promotions (gasp, Millennial Night).
The biggest draw early this season has been a promotion that’s hardly controversial but can still make for a wild afternoon at the ballpark. Education Days, in which teams partner with local schools to pack the park with kids for day games, are a way for teams to bring in big crowds on an otherwise quiet weekday while also building bonds in the community. Many teams develop baseball-themed curriculum used in their local school systems—the one developed by the Indianapolis Indians has become a staple in area schools.
These school day promotions have been a regular part of many teams’ promotional calendars for years, and for good reason. As our Attendance Tracker has shown this spring, the biggest weekday attractions in the minors has consistently been Education Day promotions. The Frisco RoughRiders drew 11,844 fans to Dr. Pepper Ballpark on May 21, their largest day-game crowd and fifth-largest overall in franchise history, for Education Day. One day later, the Indianapolis Indians attracted 12,279 schoolkids and teachers to Victory Field. One one weekday afternoon earlier this month, eight of the top 10 draws came on an Education Day promotions.
So, to find out a little more about this fad and why teams welcome fleets of yellow school buses to their parking lots each season, I emailed several general managers about the appeal of Education Day promotions. What follows is a selection of their responses.
Just when it seemed like it could not get any better for the Frisco RoughRiders, after the Texas League franchise topped 10,000 fans on back-to-back nights over the weekend, they managed to out-do themselves on Monday.
During an Education Day promotion—are you sensing a trend?—the RoughRiders drew 11,844 screaming schoolchildren to Dr. Pepper Ballpark, good for the largest day-game crowd and the fifth-largest overall in team history. In total, Frisco drew 40,018 fans during its five-game homestand.
Chuck Greenberg broke into minor league baseball on April 1, 2001, after completing the purchase of the Altoona Curve. A minor league outsider whose experience in sports grew out of overseeing the sale of his hometown Pittsburgh Penguins to his client and friend Mario Lemieux, Greenberg has grown into one of the most successful and influential owners in minor league baseball.
In the 16 years since his purchase of the Curve, Greenberg has grown his minor league stable by adding the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and State College Spikes in 2006, selling the Curve back to previous owner Bob Lozinak in 2008, and buying the Frisco RoughRiders in 2014. He oversaw the purchase of the Texas Rangers out of bankruptcy court in 2010 and briefly served as team president before resigning due to a dispute with co-owner and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Greenberg sits on the board of trustees for Minor League Baseball and helped create the Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO).
What follows is my conversation with Greenberg about his path in minor league baseball — which while not traditional, could serve as a blueprint for aspiring owners and executives — as well as his views on the state of the game. The transcript has been edited in spots for length and clarity.
It’s been over 15 years since you broke into minor league baseball. Coming from outside of the sport, what was your inspiration for buying a minor league team?
Ironically, today April 1, is 16 years to the day we closed on the purchase of the Altoona Curve. So, it’s been 16 years today. We had our first game on Thursday, April 4, and it was quite a scramble to get ready. I only brought in two people, Parney [Todd Parnell] and Rick Janac, and we got handed this string of keys and we didn’t know which key opened up the men’s room or anything else. But we figured it out and had a great opener with [former Steeler] Jerome Bettis throwing out the first pitch and it’s been a blast ever since.