3/21/2014 1:03 P.M. ET
Bobbleheads, fireworks and Elvis at the ballpark
Fan favorites return and new promotions begin at U.S. Cellular Field this season
By John Ruane / Special to MLB.com
The White Sox have a long and proud tradition of creating unique promotions to make the baseball experience fun and exciting for their fans. This year will be no different as they introduce some new promotions and giveaways to go along with the annual favorites.
Elvis Night -- to be held this year on Aug. 1 -- has always been the king of promotions for the White Sox. Fans also show up early, packing the park and looking forward to a good time any time the club offers bobbleheads, baseball gear or postgame fireworks.
"There's no question that these promotions are very popular with the fans," said Gail Tucker, director of corporate partnerships. "We see it at the gate. Fans line up early to make sure they receive one of the promotional items. It's obvious by how many fans we see in their seats early to watch batting practice. The park is always more full early during promotional giveaways."
The promotions will begin early this season, with the club giving away a 1983 White Sox fleece blanket to the first 20,000 fans on April 12, which is also Girl Scout Day. Then on Boy Scout Day, on May 31, a White Sox kids baseball glove will be given out to the first 5,000 kids ages 10 and under.
"We are really excited about the kids baseball glove," said Tucker, referring to the Beggars Pizza promotion. "Our philosophy is to put a bat, ball and glove into the kids' hands and turn them into White Sox fans. Family and children are so important to us, which is why we will be continuing our Family Sundays this year. Besides the discounted ticket prices, giving the kids the chance to run the bases after the game has really made it appealing for families to come out to the ballpark."
Of the 81 home games this year, the White Sox are running a promotion on 51 of those dates. This includes a Frank Thomas replica Hall of Fame plaque for the first 20,000 fans on Aug. 2. Minnie Minoso Day, on April 26, will also be one of the big highlights when the legendary White Sox player and ambassador will be honored. The first 20,000 fans entering the park that night will receive a Minoso replica statue.
Another highlight is the return of the always popular bobbleheads. On Saturday, Aug. 30, former White Sox skipper and 2014 Hall of Fame inductee Tony La Russa will be honored with a replica bobblehead. But the one that may leave fans shaking their heads in amazement will come on Chris Sale Bobblehead Day on May 24, when the White Sox host the Yankees for an afternoon game during Derek Jeter's final season.
"Wait until fans see the Chris Sale bobblehead," Tucker said. "It's amazing how much it looks like Chris."
Besides the promotional giveaway dates and Elvis Night, other fan-favorite promotions include Mullet Night (June 13) and Halfway to St. Patrick's Day (Sept. 12). For the St. Paddy's celebration this year, a White Sox Irish flat cap will be given out to the first 20,000 fans.
"For theme nights, our goal is for the fans to come to the games and participate, which makes it an exciting venue to come to," said Nichole Manning, senior director of game operations. "We facilitate a lot of things to draw fans ... parades, asking them to dress up, wear mullet wigs, Elvis wigs. It's a lot of fun for everyone, and really makes for a fun atmosphere in the ballpark."
Rat Pack Night (July 18) is back this year, along with Hispanic Heritage Night (Sept. 26).
"That night is not only important to many of our fans, but also to many of our players," Manning said.
The event that provides one of the most captivating visual spectacles of the season is the Independence Day Celebration on July 4, when the White Sox pay tribute to the United States military. Prior to the start of the game, members representing each branch of the military are announced as a starting lineup and run to a position on the field. Then the White Sox starting lineup is announced and each player runs to their position on the field to stand next to one of our brave members of the armed forces, providing a wonderful patriotic moment.
"Fans really get excited about the fireworks nights," said Manning, who noted that the stands stay packed following the games on those nights. "The Fourth of July is always special, because it's a longer fireworks display."
With the popularity and success of Mullet Night and Elvis Night, the White Sox will introduce a new theme night this season. Countdown to Halloween will be held on Sept. 27, giving fans an opportunity to get creative and dress up in their favorite costumes.
"We listen to the fans' feedback on the promotions," Manning said. "We are always trying to keep our finger on the pulse of what White Sox fans want, surveying them to find out what they think of the promotions. Our job is to keep it fun and keep them coming out to the park."
The 2014 season includes 13 Family Sundays, presented by the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, as well as 20 fireworks nights. The full 2014 White Sox promotional schedule is available at whitesox.com/promotions.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.