By Phil Hecken
You fine folks may recall last year I was contacted by then-seventeen-year-old Joe Mueller who wanted to give us a taste of Major League Baseball giveaways — which he did, and it was great.
When I put out the call this year for reader pitches for articles during Paul’s summer break, Joe again contacted me, hoping he could not only write about the best MLB giveaways of 2014, but the worst as well, I welcomed him back with open arms. Joe’s a year older (and wiser) now, and I’ll have two articles from him this summer. The first focuses on the “best” giveaways, and it’s below. Enjoy! (Click on most of images to enlarge.)
The Best MLB Giveaways of 2014
By Joseph Mueller
Thanks again for having me! Today I’m going to list the best giveaway from each team. While some of these are the best giveaway from each team in my mind there are others that are very iffy.. I stay away from the theme tickets, social night at the ball park or any other special at the night which required the purchase of an additional ticket. I also tried to stay away from calenders and regularly scheduled t-shirts. (Free Shirt Friday, T-Shirt Tuesday) I’d love to hear your own opinion and if you have any questions for me I’ll be happy to respond. Now to get into the promotions.
• Arizona Diamondbacks:
Bob Brenly lead the Diamondbacks to their only World Series title in 2001 and now color commentates the Diamondbacks’ games. I love this promotion not for the person but rather for the clothing mash-up. The Diamondbacks put Brenly in formal pants for the broadcasting and then a jersey for managing. I do also love that jersey and color scheme, so whenever it’s used it’s a plus in my book.
• Atlanta Braves:
Two things I love in one, bobbleheads and throwback uniforms. The Braves nailed this one. The Braves clearly paid attention to the detail because the bobblehead looks almost identical to the picture featured to the back right.
• Baltimore Orioles:
The Orioles channeling the 1954 team decided to give this awesome cap away against the Rays eariler in the year. The better part about this promotion is that the Orioles will be wearing throwing it back against the Cardinals and some of them even wore beautiful stirrups!
• Boston Red Sox:
In a shocking move the Red Sox decide to have giveaways this year. As much as it pains me to say this as a Cardinals fan the 2013 World Series ring is pretty sweet. World Series rings are a popular seller from my experience. The main differences between this ring and the authentic rings are the lack of a name and plain ‘Boston Strong’ in lieu of the circular Boston Strong logo. Also I’m not 100% sure if the Bearded Brothers engraving on the inside of the ring is in the giveaway.
• Chicago Cubs:
The Cubs are doing promotions from various eras to honor the 100th anniversary of Wrigley. For the 1910’s the Cubs decided to go with this Federals jersey and it’s beautifully accurate. The pinstripes, logo and even buttons. The only problem for some is the 100 years of Wrigley logo on the left sleeve. I personally don’t mind it but some of you might.
• Chicago White Sox:
I might be in the minority but I love this logo and this look for the White Sox. If only they went back to this logo and uniform set…
[Beach Blanket Bingo giveaway? If so, it's genius! -- PH]
• Cincinnati Reds:
My favorite player of all time. I loved his intensity, his pure talent, and his lack of taking performance enhancing drugs in an era filled with them. This bobblehead commemorates his 500th homerun against the St. Louis Cardinals on fathers day with his dad in attendance. It was truly remarkable and an honor to watch. The Reds also did a great job recreating those away jerseys.
• Cleveland Indians:
To honor the 20th anniversary of Progressive Field Cleveland decided to hand out a commemorative poster of the park. Maybe it’s because I’m a ballpark enthusiast, maybe it’s because I’m majoring in architecture, or maybe it’s because of both but I love these sorts of things.
• Colorado Rockies:
Something the Rockies lack is creativity. This year they have 10 bobbleheads, 9 of which are gnomes, 6 purple jerseys, and 9 purple t-shirts and a rally cap giveaway. While the rally cap is unique I don’t think that it’s any better than the Todd Helton bobblehead. For me it’s just meh but that’s better than all the rest.
• Detroit Tigers:
More lovely throwbacks. This time it’s a 1984 Detroit Tigers World Series champions jersey. The back is the number 84 with the name Champions. I wish they would’ve put a player’s name and number who was on the team but it’s not the biggest of my concerns. As to why it’s an away jersey I have no clue because the Tigers did win the World Series at home.
• Houston Astros:
Pretty cool father son bobblehead based on this photo. Some might be wondering why the son is included in the bobblehead and that would be because he is the Astros’ president. The detailing is also phenominal from the stripes on Ried’s shirt to the stripes on Nolan’s shirt.
• Kansas City Royals:
Pretty cool throwback by the Royals. His name is Mr. Royal and appeared in the 1970’s. Maybe the Royals will wear throwbacks the day they give this away.
• Los Angeles Angels:
Maybe this is my youth speaking but I love this shirt. The contrast between the red and blue is great. I’ll take five.
• Los Angeles Dodgers:
Vin Scully is arguably the best announcer in the game of baseball. To honor him the Dodgers are giving away an old fashion microphone with famous sayings accessible at the push of that little black button.
• Miami Marlins:
This is one of my favorite promotions all year for any team. A jersey set of salt and pepper shakers. The Marlins decided to use their white(salt) and black(pepper) jerseys instead of the gray or It’s even better that they have players with nicknames such as Salt for Jared Saltalamacchia and Pepe for Jose Fernandez. Pepe does not mean pepper but is rather Joe/Joey in Spanish as Jose is Joseph. The only thing that I’d change about this promotion is the big advertisements under the numbers. Honorable Mention: Marlins soccer jersey.
• Milwaukee Brewers:
Sausage. The Brewers are known for their sausage races dating back to the early1990’s which started with only bratwurst, Polish Sausage, and Italian Sausage. In the late 1990’s hotdog was added and then in the 2000’s chorizo was added. This isn’t the first time the Brewers have done something like this it goes back to 2008. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. (Various other teams do mascot races but only two other teams have given away mascot race bobbleheads. One is the Washington Nationals and the other is the Kansas City Royals.)
• Minnesota Twins:
Love this throwback jersey. I’m a bigger fan that they had a throwback day when they decided to give this jersey away.
• New York Mets:
Another great bobblehead of Nolan Ryan in another great throwback jersey.
• New York Yankees:
To honor one of the greatest to play the game of baseball the Yankees decided to give out a bobblehead of Lou Gehrig giving his final speech. It’s such a classy move by the Yankees to honor such a classy person and athlete. As far as details go they are spot on. Everything is exactly how it was when he gave the speech. Minnesota also had the exact promotion on July 4th.
• Oakland Athletics:
The Athletics are my favorite American League team because of the way they play and their uniforms which are present in this throwback uniform. The yellow sanitaries with the green stirrups with the white cleats is a thing of beauty along with all the other details. This goes along with the Rollie Fingers and Reggie Jackson bobbleheads given away in past years. Also if you haven’t noticed the A’s are big on having big numbers for the throwback bobbleheads for some reason.
• Philadelphia Phillies:
I absolutely love baseball stadiums. It’s one of my life goals to visit every stadium in the majors. I think that this giveaway does a fantastic job of showcasing the beauty of the park, even though I have not visited the stadium. This would look great on any Phillies fan’s wall.
• Pittsburgh Pirates:
The Pirates aren’t the best at advertising their promotions in fact they only have the months of June, August, and September up on their site. This is my favorites of the ones I found. It’s odd how it’s him in formal attire but I like it.
• San Diego Padres:
To honor the 1984 National League champions team the Padres decided to hand out 1984 jerseys.(That makes 3 jerseys from 1984 given away this year) In hopes to make the game a family affair the Padres offered 5 different players’ jerseys which would be randomly given away. Those players included Gwynn & Nettles, McReynolds, Whitson, and Garvey. No matter who you got most people can agree that the 1984 jersey is 100% better than the current ones. If only the Padres would get new jerseys. A great identity promotion for a team losing its identity.
• San Francisco Giants:
While it’s not as flashy as the current rings this 1954 World Series champions ring is pretty great. The Giants while still playing in New York beat Cleveland 4-0. The ring includes each game’s score on a pennant coming out of the stadium. Pretty cool to see the amount of detail put in by the Giants.
• Seattle Mariners:
None of the giveaways are really that exciting. I do like the Felix Hernandez train because of longevity of the series. The Mariners have handed out a train a year since 2000 making a nice set and this a go to game if you have previous ones.
• St. Louis Cardinals:
The best Cardinals announce ever gets his own bobblehead. Similar to the Mike Shannon bobblehead that the Cardinals gave out last year and the Vin Scully microphone given away by the Dodgers, this bobblehead features a voice chip which says this whenever pushed.
• Tampa Bay Rays:
Probably the most unique promotion I have ever seen and I absolutely love it. I think that it shows the youth, fun and quirky personally of the Rays.
• Texas Rangers:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m a sucker for giveaways featuring stadiums. This one is to honor the 20 years in which Arlington Park has been around. While the painting does look a little sloppy it’s still a fantastic promotion in my mind.
• Toronto Blue Jays:
Pretty much all I look for to make it a good bobblehead is in this bobblehead. I love the nice accurate detailing of the white jerseys. I also love how they nailed all the armbands. Very well done.
• Washington Nationals:
I’d like to thank Phil and Paul for having me again! It was a pleasure. I hope you all enjoyed it and I’d love to respond to your comments. If you’d like to reach me I can be found here. I also write regularly for mlpromotions.com and would love if you came to visit me over there. We will be releasing a big article about all the giveaways at the end of the baseball season so stay tuned for that. Again thanks for having me!
Thanks, Joseph! Great stuff — looking forward to that “worst” list too! OK, readers — what do you think of these freebies? And which do you think is just about the coolest of all the free swag you can pick up at your local ballpark?
Currently reading Dan Epstein’s fantastic book Big Hair & Plastic Grass (with Stars & Strikes on deck- your local public library can save you a lotta dough) – so we’re leading off with 1970s MLB merch.
• This bobblehead proudly displays the Astros Tequila Sunrise look.
• For my wife, who grew up near Oakland watching The Swinging A’s, here’s their classic Starter jacket.
• Always liked the Braves “Feather” jersey, and I still do.
• I had all of these 1970s Big Red Machine season albums….when they were actually albums.
• Not only was Reggie the straw that stirred the drink, he was also the candy bar.
• (The defining 1970s MLB uni moment, though- happened 38 years ago this past Friday. Rolling Stone has a nice article on The Clamdigger Look. Couldn’t find a single item on eBay with this look. Good luck!)
• Very cool 1970s NHL/NBC Sports hockey puck, looks like Bobby Orr on the graphic.
• My official breakfast cup, featuring 1970s NFL helmets from IHOP. Filled with Trop 50 OJ every morning.
• Check out the cover art on this 1969 Atlanta Falcons media guide!
• Nothing quite symbolizes collecting NFL stuff from the 1970s quite like these helmet plaques. Here we have the Oilers, Giants, Falcons, Jets, Colts and Rams all in one set. A bit pricey, but if you dig these, here’s a half dozen teams in one shot. Interesting to note that of the six, three of the teams use precisely the same helmet look today.
• This 1960s pin shows you are a member of the Utica NY chapter of the NFL Touchdown Club.
• Take a look at this rather quaint (by today’s standards– I rather like the subtlety) NY Football Giants golf sweater by Etonic.
• Here’s a 1960s 49ers PPK jacket.
• The California Golden Seals NHL team is long gone, but their drinking glasses are still available.
• Great cover art on this 1979 Detroit Lions PRO! game program.
And now a quick word from Paul: The Uni Watch 15th-anniversary patches are now in stock and available for ordering, and I don’t mind saying that they look pretty damn good. Full details here.
Raffle reminder: Remember, we’re currently raffling off three copies of this visual compendium of baseball uniform history.
Full details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: “The York Revolution (Indy Atlantic League) had developmental disabilities day on Aug 10,” writes Charlie Charnigo. “The Ballyhoo on the back is a local youth sports academy, it also has the Special Olympics logo’s on both sleeves. There is a rhino on the front and it is to look like a rino busting out of a jersey. The numbers have the Special Olympics logo in them as well.” … Looks like the Indians are taking a survey on TBTC unis for 2015 (via Andrew Jenkins). … “Interesting article with great photos but one line stood out to me: ‘Ruth… and numerous other stars bought his photographs to fulfill their autograph requests’,” writes Jonathan Daniel. “Players at the time paid out of pocket to fulfill autograph requests? I never really thought about the mechanics of it, but I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of big leaguers who would consider doing that today.” … Here’s a Paste article on the 150 Years of Baseball Uniforms, which some of you may not have yet seen (sent in by Britton Thomas). … Mets reliever Jeurys Familia wore a pink arm sleeve while warming up yesterday (thanks, Paul). … There’s bad blood between the Nationals and Braves, which some of you may have noticed on Sunday night, when Bryce Harper dragged his foot through the Braves’ script A. But before that, Ervin Santana wiped his hands on the Nationals’ curly W (thanks to Yusuke Toyoda). … Jim Edmonds may have been a pajamist, but he also wore proper stirrups underneath (via @HighSockSundays). … How did this not end up in a Third World Country? Bradley Ridenour found this t-shirt over the weekend “at a store that specializes in selling closeouts, overstocks and internet returns.” … Looks like the Orioles still aren’t done wearing their 60th Anniversary stirrups (pics from Jack Krabbe). Here’s a little better quality shot (from Andrew Cosentino). Says Jack of the ‘rups, “Must be a Showalter thing. The owner doesn’t like stirrups.” … Speaking of Buck: here’s a uni notable ice bucket challenge: Buck wearing “angry” bird hat (thanks to Jordan Mayblum).
NFL News: You know what fashion jersey the world needs now? That’s right a camo Packers jersey (that was spotted by Christian Zummer at the Wisconsin State Fair). Nice touch with the camo shorts, no? … Here’s a photo of NY Giant Rashad Jennings and Pittsburgh Steeler Lawrence Timmons autographing and exchanging jerseys following their preseason game on Saturday night (thanks to Dane Drutis). … Good spot by Mike Klug who noticed the Cowboys posted this to their Instagram account yesterday. Says Mike, “Cute pic, but notice Witten’s daughter’s feet – clearly the Cowboys must be painting some of their training camp fields!” … Brinke is excited that the 49ers/Levi’s clothing is now on sale. … Oops — the ‘skins missed the correct flagging for this swoosh (from Chase Martin).
College/High School Football News: Reader James I. Bowie, a “sociologist who does quantitative analyses of trends in logo design,” wrote an article about the SEC logo he hopes we will find interesting. … Did you ever want to know why Purdue football players choose the number they will wear? Now you know (thanks to Kurt Esposito). … “Last year, Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, lost its equipment manager, Mike “Tug” (Tugboat) Garcia,” says Raymie Humbert. They dedicated the remainder of the 2013 campaign to Tug with a green decal on the back of their helmets…incorporating his initials and an anchor, and they won a state title. Now, alongside some other jerseys, Saguaro has rolled out a green tribute jersey for Tug. (Also note the Adidas tire tread pattern; Saguaro has an equipment contract with our favorite triple-stripe outfitter. They were also one of the first schools in the state to introduce and wear a matte football helmet!)” … Here’s a first look at the “Notre Dame Fighting Irish Mens Sideline Football Jersey”, so this is probably our best hint yet at what the on-field jersey will look like (thanks to Travis Bowden). … The UTSA Roadrunners have a new white alternate helmet (thanks to Jordan Rabinowitz). … The Georgetown Hoyas have released their 2014 white uni set (h/t Georgetown Hoyas). … Arizona State is going to be getting new uniforms in about a week. … Georgia State is trying out the Guardian Cap helmet safety pads. … Stephen F. Austin is doing a cool look back at football uniforms since 1923 in anticipation of Tuesday’s unveiling of the 2014 look (from Chris Mycoskie). … The San Jose State Spartans have a new matte gold helmet for 2014 (h/t David Wills). … Remember that Soprting News poll that asked for readers to pick the best NCAA football uni? Well, it’s over, and the Baylor Bears won. … While we have no idea what uniforms they will actually wear (yet), Oregon has released its schedule of what fans should wear to games (h/t Leland Privott). … If you care about such things, here are the cleats Michigan will wear against Penn State for their “Under The Lights III” night game. … Wow! Check out this incredible picture of the 1906 Oklahoma Sooners football team (from Trayton Miller).
NBA News: Artist, Jesse Nunez created soccer style jerseys for every NBA team. Says submitter Sunny Moon “Pretty cool artwork.” … Paul George changed uni numbers for this year (even though he’ll miss the entire season), now No. 13 (for PG-13) — thanks to Mike the Intern. … “Is this a first? Team issued basketball shorts with pockets?” asks Colin Sherrod. “Those clearly look like pockets. These are supposed the ‘authentic’ short Team USA will be wearing in the FIBA World Basketball Festival. I’ve never seen a pair of basketball shorts with pockets before.”
Hockey News: The Kings are going to retire Rob Blake’s #4 jersey before the January 17 game against the Ducks. … Check out this 1967-68 Portland Buckaroos WHL Program! Says Bruce Menard, who sent that in, “It’s rare that I send in anything hockey related, but I thought this had some great old logos.”
Soccer News: The state of the Pontiac Silverdome, 20 years after hosting World Cup matches (from Yusuke Toyoda). He notes, “The biggest find: a box of pamphlets from 1993 soliciting $75 season ticket deposits to help the not-yet-founded Major League Soccer choose franchise locations (and note the red/white/blue version of the league logo).”
College Hoops News: “As a University of Arizona alum,” writes Nick Heisterkamp, “the schools team shop at beardown shop.com has not bothered to replenish the basketball shorts from the 2013/14 season only offering 1 color in 2 sizes and they have zero basketball uniforms available as well. Then, the official Arizona Men’s basketball twitter sent this tweet (yester)day. Could a new uniform set be forthcoming? Sure seems like it.” … You knew this was coming: the Hate Map of College Hoops teams. Dook rocks the Dakotas!!!
Grab Bag: “From Beta Boston, a Boston Globe website focusing on business and innovation, comes news of a Sports Fan Etsy,” says Tom Mulgrew. “Admittedly, I had to look up the meaning of etsy.” … Yesterday’s Shorpy, featuring “Congressional pages — Senate-House basketball,” a.k.a. “How a Ball Becomes Law,” (full story here), was pretty sweet (thanks to Charles Rogers). … Here is an infographic highlighting the limited-overs international uniforms worn by the Australian men’s cricket team between 1977 and 2007 (thanks to Graham Clayton). … Robin Williams as a cheerleader for the Broncos (from Alan Kreit) who adds, “He always kept us happy.” … And from Brinke, this, and this.
"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world." –Robin Williams RIP pic.twitter.com/9SWxwyeLdQ
— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) August 11, 2014
That’s all for today. Thanks to Joe for the great lede on MLB giveaways. I hope everyone has a good Tuesday.
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”