Most of you know the IronPigs as the Phillies’ triple-A affiliate and former home of their new manager Ryne Sandberg. But the Pigs have been making national news this summer with an interesting promotion. The IronPigs hosted a “Celebration of Life” night this summer which included a free funeral for one lucky winner. The promotion awarded one person with a $10,000 voucher to be used at a local funeral home and required contestants to submit an essay outlining why they deserved to win. The lucky winner offered to wear an IronPigs t-shirt at his funeral.
Although the promotion took some heat from some older fans who thought it was disrespectful, funky gimmicks are what Minor League Baseball is all about. People come to games to watch some baseball, but also to be entertained. Other unique promotions in the MiLB include “Red Neck Night” at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and a fake rejected marriage proposal at the New Britain Rock Cats that went viral on YouTube. It’s about drawing in baseball and non-baseball fans alike and showing them a good time.
As a past intern at the IronPigs, I know how hard they work to provide entertainment and fun for everyone coming to the game. There is plenty to do inside the ballpark and great promotions between innings (including the infamous Pork Race) to keep everyone engaged and excited. Kurt Landes, the IronPigs GM, really tries to get the community and local businesses involved. He ran a contest to name the team in 2006 and has reached out to numerous businesses with promotional ideas, and in this case, that meant reaching out to local funeral homes. Although it took a while to find a funeral home that wanted to work with the Pigs on this obscure promotion, they finally found one that wanted to help a family in the community take care of a loved one’s passing in the future.
Although the IronPigs’ unique funeral promotion had varied reactions, I think the “Celebration of Life” night captured the quirkiness of Minor League Baseball and certainly got the community involved with the team, even if it was in a bizarre way.