Welcome to Minor Enterprise, where we preview, and occasionally review, the great events of minor league baseball. Each Wednesday we'll take a look at the promotions, players and mascots which populate our minor league ballparks; the unsung heroes of our national pastime. (Minor Enterprise not responsible for items thrown by Joe Mikulik). If you have a good tip about a minor league promotion, or perhaps you're dressed as a large mascot beaver and are hopelessly stuck in the suit, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was just last week that the Sioux Falls Canaries suited up 83-year-old Jim Eriotes for an at-bat in an Independent Northern League game, making him the oldest person ever to play in a professional baseball game. Not to be outdone, the Kansas City T-Bones propped up former Negro League star Buck O'Neil, 94, for an at-bat in the Northern League All-Star Game on Tuesday. O'Neil got two at-bats, actually; he was traded between innings. He walked both times, swinging at one pitch and almost falling over. Ah, Independent League baseball. Catch the fever.
O'Neil was a lifetime .288 hitter and two-time Negro League batting champ, and Major League Baseball's first black coach, with the Chicago Cubs. His appearance on Tuesday officially makes him a 70-year baseball veteran, although the last time he actually played in a game was in 1955. Those 51-year layoffs will play hell with your timing, we understand. It should be fun next week in the Northern League to see who steps up to break O'Neil's record as oldest player ever. Piltdown Man, perhaps? Or an urn which contains the ashes of Cap Anson? We can't wait.
Upcoming Minor League promotions of note (big thanks to Benjamin Hill at MiLB's Promo Preview):
• Jerry Lawler Appearance (Friday: Columbus Clippers vs. Pawtucket Red Sox, International League): A former professional wrestler best remembered for throttling comedian Andy Kaufman on David Letterman's NBC talk show (the incident was later revealed to be staged), Lawler will show up at Columbus' Cooper Stadium and distribute hats. Bring the kids.
• Used Car Night (Friiday: San Antonio Missions vs. Frisco RoughRiders, Texas League). Stand down Oprah, the Missions are handing out used cars to a dozen lucky fans at Nelson W. Wolff Stadium. Among the vehicles, a '91 Jaguar XJ6 and a '90 Cadillac Deville. Our new motto for the team, which they can have free of charge: The San Antonio Missions: One Sweet Ride. (All deals are final).
• Survivor Competition. (Monday through July 27: Savannah Sand Gnats vs. Lexington Legends, South Atlantic League). "The Sand Gnats' second annual "Survivor" competition is an all-encompassing event, a week-long exploration of the limits of human endurance. Nine courageous Gnats fans have agreed to live in Savannah's Grayson Stadium for the duration of the team's upcoming homestand. The contestants are permitted to bring a tent, two blankets, two pillows and three non-electronic luxury items, and will live exclusively on ballpark food. During each game, these nine hardy souls will compete in various contests, and one will be voted off the ballpark each night. The winner will be treated like Minor League royalty, as the prize package includes lifetime admission to Sand Gnats games and round-trip airline tickets." (Benjamin Hill).
• Minor League Mascot Of The Week: Aftershock, the shy, um, thing that represents the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the Singe-A California League. Here Aftershock is getting its ass kicked by a baby.
• Bobblehead Of The Moment: Bill Murray (Fort Myers Miracle). On July 8, the Miracle — which is co-owned by Murray — handed out 1,000 bobbleheads depicting the actor in a Gray Harbor Loggers uniform. This commemorates the day in 1978 that Murray — then a cast regular on Saturday Night Live — played for the Loggers for one day, and had two RBI. Reader Spencer Cordell was there and secured one of the mementos, providing a photo which we include after the jump. Thanks Spencer, you crazy nut.