Like free stuff? Minor League Baseball teams host lots of giveaways and themed games, and the Omaha Storm Chasers are no different. From bringing your dog to a ball game to special uniform nights, as well as bobblehead giveaways, fans flock to Werner Park near Papillion to take part in the fun activities, as well watch professional baseball.
Possibly the top two favorite promotion games involve bobbleheads and the special uniforms.
The team has five bobblehead nights, honoring some of the best and most popular players to don an Omaha uniform over the past 50 years. Thus far, the team has honored Jarrod Dyson and Mike Sweeney with special bobblehead nights. Upcoming events are scheduled for Jeff Montgomery (June 9), Kevin Seitzer (July 14) and Dan Quisenberry (Aug. 25). The first 2,000 fans through the gates receive a free bobblehead those days.
The Storm Chasers host a variety of special uniform games this summer, including becoming the Omaha Runzas June 9 when they play the Albuquerque Green Chiles (normallt the Isotopes) and a monthly throwback night when the players wear a uniform representing one of the team’s five decades.
But none may be more special than Star Wars Night. From the team wearing Star Wars-themed uniforms to cosplayers dressed as characters from the movie series, fans joined in as well, wearing their favorite T-shirt with a Star Wars logo or dressed as their favorite character.
Star Wars favorites
Prior to Friday’s game against New Orleans, characters posed for photos with fans, with lines up to 10 people deep at times. Children of all ages (I saw adults eager to have their picture, too) smile with excitement as they stand next to characters, such as Chewbacca or Rey.
A trio of storm troopers posed for photos. I imagine the older ones were a bit disappointed as they likely had to teach the younger one how to miss when shooting at someone during a battle. Pew! Pew! Pew! “You missed…again,” they must say dejected knowing they never hit their target with fighting the rebels.
In an era where more female characters are taking lead roles during the Star Wars series, I thought it was great that children wanted their photo taken with Rey. She is a positive example of a strong character, growing from uncertainty to believing in the Jedi way.
Star Wars game
The Chasers’ pregame activities included having all the Star Wars characters lead a youth baseball program on to the field. As people threw out the ceremonial pitch, Rey represented Star Wars well with a strong throw to home plate.
As the Chasers took the field, several of the estimated 8,000 fans applauded, approving of the uniforms’ resemblance to the rebellion’s pilot crews. Jonathan Dziedzic (0-4) started on the mound. The left-hander pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits and one walk. He struck out five batters. New Orleans broke open a 1-1 game with a six-run sixth inning en route to an 8-4 win, snapping Omaha’s three-game winning streak.
Chasers honor influences
As the Storm Chasers continued their homestand Saturday, the team honored the late Bill Gorman, who served as the team’s longest-tenured general manager. The Chasers named the administrative offices after Gorman, who served as general manager for 30 years from 1971 to 2001.
Following the ceremony. former Kansas City Royals star Mike Sweeney signed autographs and visited with fans as part of the Mike Sweeney bobblehead night. Sweeney played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues, spending 13 of them with the Royals. Sweeney works in Kansas City’s front office.
As the weekend events concluded, the team named the press box after the late Steve Pivovar, who covered the team for several years as a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald.
Regardless of the reason people attend games – for giveaways or special uniforms – they stay for the action. The love for baseball usually starts with a kid rooting for a favorite team or player. Teams hope that love continues as they become adults and start families of their own.
We enjoyed the activities – both on and off the field this weekend. If you haven’t been to a Storm Chasers game yet, we recommend you make plans to visit soon.
For ticket and game promotion information, please visit www.milb.com/omaha.
Disclaimer: We are teaming with the Omaha Storm Chasers to help celebrate the team’s 50th anniversary in 2018, including complimentary tickets to games. We will be providing a variety of stories throughout the season. As always, all views and opinions are ours.