Minor League Team's Promo Schedule Is Peak Millennial Appeal
We don't want to get all "Only '90s kids will remember" on you, but younger people who grew up during a specific time will likely remember a computer game called "Backyard Baseball." For those who don't know, it was a game sports game for kids where you created a team of neighborhood kids, all with varying skills and personality traits, and played baseball. There were other versions, but baseball was the most popular. They even did another version with child versions of MLB players of the time.
The team name creation gave you a selection of adjectives and nouns to chose from, and the default was usually the "Mighty Wombats" for whatever reason. This is important to remember, because otherwise the Minor League Lansing Lugnuts' decision to rebrand for one night as the Mighty Wombats wouldn't make sense.
The Lugnuts are doing their second annual "Backyard Baseball Night" promotion, where they take the field as the Wombats, new uniforms and all, and fans get a bobblehead of a Backyard player. Last year it was Pablo Sanchez, the Spanish-speaking phenom who was everyone's first choice. Seriously, if you didn't pick Pablo first, what were you even doing?)
After over 10,000 votes....🥁🥁🥁
INTRODUCING...The Lansing Mighty Wombats!
☑️ Jerseys will be worn on 8/18 for Backyard Baseball Night
☑️ Jerseys will be auctioned off after the game pic.twitter.com/KvGbqITAsh
— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) July 24, 2018
This year, Lugnuts fans got to vote from a choice of three players: Kenny Kowaguchi, Pete Wheeler, Stephanie Morgan and Achmed Kahn, settling on Wheeler. Wheeler was slow to talk, but was lightning fast around the bases, making him a good pickup for stealing bases if nothing else. But that's not important right now.
The Blue Jays single-A affiliate Lansing Lugnuts to host a Backyard Baseball night featuring a Pete Wheeler bobblehead giveaway pic.twitter.com/3liaalOTPs
— The Baseball Masters (@thebsbmasters) March 9, 2019
A quick peek at the Lugnuts' promotional schedule made us realize that they're really appealing to millennial fans this year. There's also Oregon Trail Night on June 27, which will commemorate everyone's favorite Dysentery simulator from computer class; Nickelodeon Night featuring Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; and Harry Potter Night. For older fans, there's a tribute to Burt Reynolds on July 20, where Lansing fans can celebrate the late Lansing native with a bobblehead giveaway.
We know this article has been a wild ride of references that some readers might not get. But the fact that we're so excited about these things shows that the Lansing marketing officials are hitting certain nails on the head. We don't live anywhere near Lansing but we're considering going for the Wheeler bobblehead (although an Achmed Kahn one would be better, but that's just this writer's personal preference). We've been saying for years that Minor League Baseball is the leader in promotional giveaways, and this team has nailed the shift toward the millennials that are now in their mid-to-late 20s and are spending their expendable income at the ballpark.
You don't have to force yourself to make references to things you don't get, but appealing to younger audiences when you can in authentic ways can yield hugely positive results. You don't want to verge into "How do you do, fellow kids?" territory, though. The key word here is authenticity.