Friday, June 24, 2005

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjack!

If you are reading the ezine you already know about the baseball history unit my daughter did this year. The cuminating project was to record an interview with her grandfather about baseball in New York in the 30's, 40's and 50's. It's actually pretty interesting, music and everything. It's here, if you've got kids who may be interested.

So, my dad and I thought it would be a nice idea to take the kids to a minor league game. Lancaster, PA just got a baseball team and this being the inaugural year, it seemed like the place to go. They are called the Barnstormers and are a Class A Advanced farm team for the Orioles. Theirs is an interesting story in bringing baseball back to Lancaster after decades of no teams. Thursday night they played the Bridgeport, CT team and we were there.

I did think some learning would be going on; the kids still really didn't quite get the rules. My son would run with his bat to first base whenever he played with the neighborhood; strikes, foul balls, it was a little hazy. This ballgame did serve that purpose well. We showed them how to read the scoreboard and soon they were able to follow the game pretty well. We had a nice show as the Barnstormers had 4 homeruns (I think) and one or the other of the teams had a triple, a double, a steal, one player even stole onto first base when the catcher lost control of the ball. In the end, the Barnstormers lost 8 to 6.

The real learning opportunity that night however was MARKETING. They have some geniuses in that department. Of course every square inch of the place was covered with advertising. The scoreboard was dynamic and even tied into the speaker system so you were essentially watching commercials. Almost every half-inning there was some sort of giveaway game: a Herr's potato sack race, kids racing vegetables around the bases, some dental surgery outfit had kids brush the bases with giant toothbrushes for a prize. And it works! On the way home, Erin was quick to point out that we just passed a Royer's Flower Shop.
"Why is that significant?" I ask.
"Well, they like the Barnstormers," she said.
"How do you know that?" I ask.
"They had that contest during the game where they gave roses away to the best kissers!", she answers.
(Of course this is the same child who at 6 sang the praises of "moving men" (those little plastic discs you put under furniture) after catching part of an infomercial - we don't do TV anymore.)

One promo I thought was pretty clever and had a nice charitable component: Amelia's Grocery "shake it up" macaroni. You contribute $1 to a charity they've chosen for 2 boxes of special mac and cheese. It's got the Barnstormer's logo, Amelia's logo and instructions on it. During the game there is special music to which you are to "shake it up" with your box. At the end of the game you give the mac and cheese back and it is donated to the local food bank.

All in all the giveaways and promos served to keep the energy of the crowd up and who doesn't like to think they might catch a T-shirt they are throwing into the crowd or have the winning signature in their program? But, and maybe this is just me, I'd take a reasonably priced lemonade ($3.75 for about 12 oz - I am NOT kidding!) over a chance to win a t-shirt. Parking was free.


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