It's Minor Enterprise, where we chronicle the glory and spectacle of minor league baseball promotions, pausing only to hail the beer vendor every half inning or so.
The Altoona Curve just can't quit you. Many others have it down to a science, however; and it's those notorious few, who have said "No mas" when we least expected it, whom the Curve will honor on Tuesday, June 3, in their Salute to Quitters Night at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona, Pa.
"Whether you've ever tried to quit smoking or quit in the middle of a fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, this is the night for you," said Curve Director of Promotions Matt Hoover. "Bobby Petrino, Rich Rodriguez, Bobby Knight; what do these people all have in common? They all sprinted out the back door and quit on their teams. On Tuesday we'll honor them all, plus, the front office staff is even going to dress as quitters (Hoover plans to go as boxer Roberto Duran)."
But the highlight of the night will be when the Curve pick an ultimate quitter from the stands, and present him with a very special gift.
"We're going to pick a seat number at random, and give the fan our special Back Door Prize," Hoover said. "It's an actual back door, which they can install in their home and leave through the back door whenever they want."
And the fan who wins it will be encouraged to leave the game in the top of the fifth inning.
"It's only fitting on this night to quit in the middle of the game," Hoover said. "Although if the winner wants to stay, I suppose we won't force him to leave."
Salute To Quitters was dreamed up by Curve staff in a bar in Pittsburgh during the offseason. The night will include video tributes to famous quitters such as Duran, Knight (Texas Tech basketball), Rodriguez (who left West Virgina's football team to coach Michigan), and Nick Saban, who ran out on the Miami Dolphins to coach at Alabama.
The Curve, a Class-AA Eastern League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, are also the creators of Awful Night (featuring awful events such as the helium balloon toss and the underwear slingshot); You Got Caught Night (alternate title: Salute to Bill Belichick); Procrastination Night (pending) and Irish Pat's Used Car Giveaway, in which Curve staffer Pat Cokely dresses as a leprechaun and gives away junker cars from local dealerships.
"That's always my favorite," Hoover said of the Used Car Giveaway. "I'm not sure why."
Elsewhere in upcoming minor league promotions:
• Win Your Own Funeral. Lake County Captains (Class A South Atlantic League). The Captains, in conjunction with Monreal Funeral Home, will be giving away a free funeral at Classic Park in August. Fans can fill out an entry form at all Captains home games. Mail-in entries will also be accepted. Details here. Good luck!
• Dukes of Hazzard Night. Tonight, Southern Illinois Miners (Independent Frontier League). It's what you've always dreamed of: The chance to meet Roscoe P. Coltrane in person. James Best, who played the sheriff in the long-running series, will be on hand to sign autographs and whatever else he does. Oh, you Duke boys ... [Thanks to Chris Patton]
• Cheesesteak Appreciation Night. Monday, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Class A Carolina League). This is any night if you live in my house. Which makes the following promotion all the more important ...
• Salute To Indoor Plumbing. Monday, West Virginia Power (Class A South Atlantic League). Can't decide which is my favorite event: The outhouse races or the poo toss.
• Economic Stimulus Night. Wednesday, Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA International League). The promotion includes free admission to a future game for all fans as well as $1 hot dogs, sodas, popcorn and ice cream sandwiches. Plus, be stimulated by $250 worth of free gas, $100 of free groceries (I want Pop Tarts), a thousand loaves of bread, and more. The economy's never looked better! [Thanks to Geoffrey Siener].
• World Record Attempt Of The Moment. Pizza dough toss. Bowie Baysox (Class AA Eastern League). Three-time World Champion "Pizza Acrobat" Joe Carlucci is pictured here in his brave attempt to shatter his own world record for highest pizza toss, on May 23 at Prince George's Stadium. The result? A record toss of 21 feet, 6 inches; Where No Dough Has Gone Before. Also that night was the attempt to set the world record for most people playing the kazoo at one time (3,000 fans played "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch).
We want your minor league tips! Send game reports, photos, or promotional tidbits to RickChand@GMail.com. You'll be glad you did. And thanks!