Beloved former A's third base coach Ron Washington may not have a World Series trophy to show for the past two years in Texas but he will be able to wrap his arms around his very own bobblehead this season. (Photo Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE)

Coco Crisp honored in Chia, Don Zimmer as a stuffed bear … A celebration of ballpark promotions


Coco Crisp will be honored as a Chia Pet this season at the Coliseum which should ease the pain of losing his job as the A's center fielder to Yoenis Cespedes. (Photo Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE)

If you made it out to the ballpark tonight for the A’s home opener you came away a little disappointed after witnessing what promises to be one of many losses for the guys in green and gold in 2012. But you also came away with your jaw dragging on the ground after seeing Yoenis Cespedes smash an awe-inspiring homer off of Mount Davis.

Aside from all that you probably also left with a trusty magnetic schedule, the first of many giveways at the Coliseum this year. If there’s anything you can count as much as death and taxes it’s the A’s handing out free magnetic schedules at the first home game every year. Those suckers used to plaster my refrigerator back when I was single and I could afford to buy season tickets.

One thing I haven’t grown out of since I was a kid is a deep love for/odd amusement with freebies at the ballgame which led me on the strange, winding road to this post highlighting ballpark promotions in Oakland and around the American League this season.

The stars of the A’s promotional schedule include the following:

Fri, Apr 20: A’s Kurt Suzuki “Fat Head” Clings

I don’t even know what that is but it sounds ridiculous and unnecessary which makes it worth having in my book. This one’s only available to kids which makes me even happier that I reproduced. My son and daughter are both in diapers so they’ll have no memory of me shamelessly using them to get free stuff at the ballpark.

Sat, Apr 21: Rollie Fingers Bobblehead

An A’s Hall of Famer immortalized in plaster? Works for me every time.

Sun, Jun 17: A’s Chia Pet Coco Crisp

Nothing says you’ve arrived as a big leaguer like thousands of Chia pets in your likeness. Congrats Coco, you’ve earned it. You better have the afro grown in for this game.

Sun, Jul 8: 1955 Oakland Oaks Cap

A free retro hat? Sweet! I recently bought a 1948 Oaks replica hat from Ebbetts Field Flannels and have been proudly wearing that warm, wool beauty on my morning walks. I could use another cool hat and this giveaway should do the trick. And considering the fact that the team is trying to ditch Oakland I guess it’s nice of the A’s to remind fans that they’ve lost a baseball team before.

Sat, Aug 18 and Sun, Aug 19: A’s 20-Game Win Streak 10 Year Reunion, Scott Hatteberg 20-Game Win Streak Bobblehead, A’s 20-Game Win Streak T-shirt

This has awesome written all over it. There’s an outside chance that the A’s could be in the middle of a 20-game losing streak when this weekend rolls around but there’s always time to celebrate the past. That 20th win in a row is definitely the most memorable game I’ve ever been to and the least the team can do is spend a weekend reliving the glory. If the Giants had pulled off a winning streak like that they’d probably spend all season obnoxiously celebrating the anniversary of the historic achievement but the A’s are humble about their greatness and are keeping it to two days.

And since my odd fascination with this kind of thing and my curiosity led me to every American League team’s Web site, here are my Top 10 Giveways in the American League.

10. Rangers, Sat, Aug 25, Ron Washington Bobblehead

I’ll always love ya’ Wash. I might have to hit Ebay to snag one of these babies.

9. Rays, Sun, Apr 8, Raymond Cowbell

A Top 10 promotion from where I’m sitting because we all need more cowbell.

8. Angels, Wed, Jun 6, Angels Hula Girl

I have no idea what a hula girl really has to do with baseball in Orange County but it’s better than the two Rally Monkey promotions the Halos are rolling out this year. Man, I hate that stupid monkey but I love hula girls so this makes the Top 10 list.

7. Rays, Sat, Jun 2, LL COOL J Postgame Concert

I think LL needs to come back to Cali and put on a concert at the Coliseum.

6. Royals, Sat, Sep 1, “Moose”-takas Antlers

I guess it’s a little hypocritical of me to mock Giants fans wearing idiotic panda and giraffe hats and then point out antlers for Royals fans as a fun promotion isn’t it? The heck with that. The panda and giraffe hats are weak compared to a fierce set of antlers. Good thing the Royals aren’t handing these things out on a $1 beer night or else there might be blood flowing in the stands by the 7th inning.

5. Tampa Bay Rays, Sun, Aug 5 DJ Kitty Bobblehead

A tribute to this cat is totally absurd … but in a good way. I’d like to see this funky fresh feline scratch the eyes out of the Angels’ infernal Rally Monkey.  Have I mentioned how much I hate the Rally Monkey?

4. Royals, Sat, May 5, George Brett Mini Pine Tar Bat on Pine Tar Night

This team knows how to have fun with all-time franchise great George Brett, doesn’t it? Superb promotion. Brett had a nasty hemorrhoid problem in 1981  so I think there has to be a good promotion to work up around that too. How about a seat cushion giveaway sponsored by Preparation H?

3. White Sox, Sat, Aug 4, Beer Vendor Bobblehead

Anyone who brings a cold beer to your seat at the ballpark deserves your respect and nothing says respect more than a bobblehead.

Wow. Just … wow. What an incredible bobblehead. They do it right in Chicago. I can’t even begin to imagine how glorious it must be to live in a part of the country where you don’t even have to leave your seat to get a brewski. The White Sox may stink this season but at least the club makes it easy for the fans to drown their sorrows.

2. Rangers, Sun, Jul 1, Chicken Express Nolan Ryan Snow Monkey

At least Coco Crisp can hold his head high and say he was honored with a Chia pet. How did Nolan Freakin’ Ryan get honored with a lowly snow monkey? It doesn’t even look like him. Try harder Rangers, he’s a Hall of Famer and the team owner for cryin’ out loud! Then again, this is so weird that it crosses the line into actually being kind of cool too.  Do I need this?  No, of course not but that doesn’t mean I can’t want it for the sake of cheap amusement.

1. Rays, Fri, Jun 29, Zim Bear

I love this giveaway almost as much as I fear it. Walk away from your computer and you'll swear that the eyes of the Zim Bear follow you.

Easily the best … and worst … ballpark giveaway I have ever seen in my life. Cute and creepy all at once, I’m tempted to buy one for my kids just to see how they’d react to the Zim Bear. When it comes to twisted stuffed dolls that could live in your child’s room this has to be right up there with the clown from Poltergeist.

And while I’m at it, here are Five Random AL Promo Observations:

1. The White Sox promo department absolutely rocks. They have a Carlton Fisk Replica Statue, Mullet Night & Fireworks, Elvis Night and Fireworks, Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day, Fireworks & Green White Sox Cap and they’re having a throwback day every Sunday which sounds incredible. Why can’t the A’s do cool stuff like this?

2. The Royals are having a Salute to the Kansas City A’s with a Vintage 1960 Cap on June 2 which is a good way to use the A’s being in town to celebrate the past. Amazing how history might repeat itself as the A’s set their sights on ditching yet another town.

3. I have to say that I’m impressed that the Tigers have 17 fireworks nights. Quite impressive. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder provide the fireworks during the game and the team provides a little more after the final out.  Good deal for baseball fans in the Motor City.

4. On June 17 the Twins are going to have a mascot softball game and all I know is that Stomper better be allowed to play or the results of this game will be meaningless. I want to see our fan-friendly pachyderm call his shot Babe Ruth-style.

5. The Angels are giving away an Angels Scratcher on Aug. 15 and since there’s no picture available on the team’s Web site I have to admit that this promo makes me think of Peter selling butt scratchers at the ballpark on “Family Guy.”

If the best things in life are free then for my money the best free things are the ones you can get when you walk through the turnstile at the ballpark.

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