There are many reasons to love the minor leagues. I hope, for most, that the chance to see skilled players compete in one’s own back yard is at the core of the experience. But I cannot, and will not deny that the extraneous stuff is a blast, as well. That’s why this blog has tags for promotions, mascots, and other non-baseball entertainment options that go along with the ballpark atmosphere.
But sometimes the style overshadows the substance, as in the case of the brand-spanking-new triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies). The pigs, to coin a phrase, suck. At 19-40, they not only anchor the Northern Division of the International League, but have easily garnered the worst record in all of AAA ball.
But man, can they move some merchandise.
Tina Gust, Director of Licensing for MiLB, will only state that the Pigs are among the top 25 in merchandise sales, a feat that club officials attribute to their bold choices of nickname and mascot.
The team hired Plan B. Branding to design its snorting pig, which exhales smoke from his snout on the team’s Web site, and has rivets or bolts in IronPigs letters below.
“We’re kind of risk takers and wanted our logo to reflect that,” said IronPigs general manager Kurt Landes, whose team starts a four-game series at Victory Field tonight. “In the end, you truly have an iron pig, its own species. When that pig is mean, he’s mean.
“But when he smiles, the kids can love him.”
In general, the Pigs seem to be going for a nuttier vibe than other IL teams. They also have a dance team that doubles as the grounds crew. They’re known as the Dancing Dirt Dudes.
I’m in favor of family fun at the ballpark, and a minor-league club is supposed to develop talent first and foremost, so far be it from me to keep you away from the Iron Pigs store. Browse and enjoy! Here’s hoping they start winning next season when all of this has grown a bit stale.