Updated: May 21, 2020
When your feeder team is located 2200 miles away it might seem like a tough sell to encourage the locals in Eugene, Oregon to come out and support the short season A team for the Chicago Cubs. It's a unique opportunity for the minor league team to get create unique draws to not only promote the game of baseball, but also create a sense of community.
Today I wanted to highlight the Eugene Emeralds that is developing a reputation for their exceptional promotions! Their hard work and innovation is paying off. Their attendance is on the rise, and because of their outstanding promotions, have been able to capitalize on the Cubs "World Series bump". (The Emeralds were affiliated with the San Diego Padres until they signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2015).
While the 2020 promotional schedule is in flux, I thought it would be fun to look at their past promotions.
In 2018, the Emeralds won the coveted Larry MacPhail Promotional award after being nominated for the last 8 seasons. This award has been given out since 1966 and is presented each year at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet. Leland Stanford "Larry" MacPhail Sr. is a Hall of Famer baseball executive (inducted in 1978) who worked for several teams including the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees.
The Emeralds are the first Northwest League team to win the award since its inception and we are quite proud of them!
The Emeralds season is short and sweet (only 37 home games!) and they held 32 different promotional theme nights in 2018.
My personal favorite is the Ham Porter Bobblehead featuring the BEST character from "The Sandlot".
Other themes were Grateful Dead Weekend, Ghostbusters Night, Princess Night, Animal House 40th Anniversary celebration and Star Wars Night.
The Emeralds' also embraced their Latino community by transforming into the Los Monarcas de Eugene for 6 nights.
Their first Golden Bobblehead award for "Best Charity Promotion" was for "Cut-Off For a Cause". Denim donation stations were set up around the ballpark and these donations were used to create housing insulation for low-income families.
The Eugene Emeralds were back in 2014 again, accepting another Golden Bobblehead award. This time their infamous Selfie Cam won "Best In-Game Promotion". If you snap a selfie of yourself at the game, post it on social media with the proper hashtag then you could be be featured on the video board at PK park!
2016 was a big year for the Eugene Emeralds promotional team because they took home TWO Golden Bobbleheads! This time they won both "Best Community Promotion or Event" and the "Best Overall Promotion Award" for their work for Children's Miracle Network and Honorary Player Hayden Kumle. At the awards ceremony the team even offered Hayden a one year deal as an honorary player.
While 2017 did not win any offseason promotional awards there was A LOT to celebrate. Not only had the Chicago Cubs WON IT ALL!!!! the previous year, but the Emeralds were also Northwest League Champions! Subsequently their Manager Jesus Feliciano won Manager of the Year and of course, was immortalized in bobblehead form receiving his award!
In 2019 the Emeralds really upped their bobblehead giveaway game (photos courtesy of MiLB.com).
If you are interested in the submission process check out this link here. Fans even get to vote for Best Promo each year!
Of course every good ballpark experience should be accompanied by an equally drool worthy snack.
When Pronk talked to Matt Dompe the Assistant General Manager (you can read that interview here), Matt mentioned a pulled pork mac-n-cheese sandwich: pulled pork, mac and cheese fused together with EXTRA cheese and of course nestled between two slices of Texas toast. It might sound like instant heartburn but I'm willing to risk it. Pronk's personal pick is the maple bacon bratwurst, which is a variation on local favorite Voodoo Donuts popular item. A bit sweet and a bit salty.
Of course all that delicious food simply must be washed down with a beer! Don't worry though the Ems got you covered! A favorite promotion is called "Beer Batters". An opposing player is chosen ahead of time to be the designated beer batter. If that player strikes out, then the beer is discounted for 15 minutes! The fans love to play along and get especially antsy during those 3-2 counts. Fans really don't like it when their pitcher issues a walk to the beer batter. Things tend to get a bit rowdy. But of course it's all in good fun and the designated beer batter is usually a former local player.
With a possible canceled season, it has become obvious that the Emeralds ownership isn't in this to just make money. While the Emeralds obviously do need to sell seats to survive, they do make the extra effort to connect with the local community in very real ways. The Emeralds have a community fund they use to help support local teams and fields to ideally build up a bigger base over time.
A quick scroll through their Facebook feed from just the last week finds efforts like:
• Stuff The Truck: a food and gift card drive to collect essentials for the needy
• A t-shirt drive with a local non profit to support Boys and Girls clubs
• Catwalk for a Cause: a local fundraiser where models raise fund for Boys and Girls clubs
• A food and essential supply drive with the Eugene Education Foundation
• P.E. classes hosted by the Em's mascot, Sluggo
I hope that we do end up getting a 2020 season. But if not, the Emeralds will surely be a part of the community this year. And if anything, it gives them some extra time to think up some extra fun!