Whether paying tribute to vegetables (Asparagus Night in Stockton) or classic American movies (Top Gun Night in Lehigh Valley), minor league theme nights have covered just about every inch of pop culture. We've compiled what we consider the 20 best of the 2016 season. Enjoy!
20. Space Jam Night, Charlotte Knights
Muggsy Bogues may be the shortest (5-foot-3) NBA player of all time but he's also one of the most popular. This may be due to his scrappy style of play and never-give-up attitude, but it also has something to do with his appearance in Space Jam. Bogues will return to Charlotte later this month for Space Jam Night, where he'll sign autographs and try to recover his hoops skills from the villainous Monstars.
19. Alpaca Racing Night, Harrisburg Senators
Who needs racing presidents when you have racing alpacas? That's what the Harrisburg Senators were thinking when they came up with this masterpiece. In addition to the alpaca obstacle course, there will be a petting zoo and pregame alpaca parade. And if you're wondering, an alpaca is a "domesticated species of South American camel that resembles a small llama in appearance.
18. Vince Carter Night, Daytona Tortugas
Vince Carter is the second most important person from Daytona Beach (Bob Ross is first), so it only makes sense for him to be honored in his hometown. A $12 purchase includes a ticket to the game, all-you-can-eat food and the opportunity to meet Vince Carter. I dare anyone to find a better value for a live sporting event.
17. Ghostbusters Night, Birmingham Barons
Who you going to call? The Barons (and several other minor league teams). Ghostbusters went through a renaissance this summer, headlined by a somewhat successful remake starring Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones, plus a bunch of minor league teams throwing Ghostbusters Theme Nights. We went with Birmingham because the Barons have our favorite uniforms among the group.
16. Glenn Hubbard Snake Night, Lexington Legends
When it comes to iconic baseball cards of yesteryear, nothing can touch Glenn Hubbard's 1984 Fleer card—unless you've seen another baseball star with an eight-foot boa constrictor wrapped around his neck. Hubbard, now a coach for the Legends, received his own bobblehead tribute to the card in June. Now all we need is a Billy Ripken bat night to complete the circle of legendary '80s baseball cards.
15. Top Gun Tribute Night, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs
It's been 30 years since Tom Cruise took to the sky in Top Gun, and the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs were not going to let that anniversary go by without a celebration. The first 3,000 fans received a Top Gun t-shirt and the entire stadium left singing the movie's theme song. Unfortunately, Cruise did not make an appearance.
14. KISS Night, El Paso Chihuahuas
In an attempt to stick out their epic Chihuahua's mascot tongue as far as they can, the El Paso Chihuahuas hosted a kiss night with Kiss-themed jerseys featuring the infamous tongue on their oh so infamous dog logo. And if KISS isn't your jam, the team will host a Gabriel Iglesias Night at the end of this month.
13. Field of Dreams Night, Portland Sea Dogs
The Portland Sea Dogs will hold their annual Field of Dreams Night in late August as part of Fan Appreciation Day. In keeping with tradition, the team will wear old-time uniforms and enter the stadium through a temporary cornfield in center field. Honorable mention to the Sea Dogs for hosting KNEEd to Know Night in July, the first theme night dedicated to stopping knee pain!
12. Jennifer Appreciation Night/Ginger Night, Bowie Baysox
The Baysox threw two great promotions into one weekend series, so we decided to combine two great promotions into one blurb. Whether you're on Team Aniston, Lopez, Lawrence or Garner, there's a Jennifer for you that deserves celebrating. As for Ginger Night, it's good to see the Baysox stand up to the redhead hatred in the world. We're not sure if any redheads named Jennifer made an appearance.
11. Salute to 8-Bit and Arcades Night, Frisco RoughRiders
We're picking this one for the uniforms alone, which makes us want to transport back to 1997 and play Tetris on our Gameboy. The team brought in retro arcade games for fans and recreated classic video games between innings.
10. Salute to Seinfeld Night, Brooklyn Cyclones
The Cyclones paid tribute to Seinfeld for the third straight year and it may have been the best one yet. In addition to a Roger McDowell Second Spitter bobblehead giveaway, the team renamed its stadium Kramerica Industries Park for the night and held a Red Dot and Astronaut Pen Contest. It makes us ask one question: How can anyone not love this night?
9. Halfway to Festivus Night, Potomac Nationals
Maybe we're going a little heavy on Seinfeld, but Festivus is a holiday worth celebrating ... and so is "Halfway to Festivus" Night. The Nationals honored this important event with a Frank Costanza bobblehead, a Cosmo Kramer look-alike contest and an airing of the grievances.
8. '90s Nickelodeon Night, Fresno Grizzlies
Kel Mitchell (of Kenan & Kel/Good Burger fame) was the main attraction when the Fresno Grizzlies took on the Reno Aces on '90s Nickelodeon Night in early July. The Grizzlies wore Grizz Burger jerseys while the Aces donned Mondo Burgers jerseys (if you've seen the movie, the uniforms will make more sense). And the game had a movie ending as the Grizzlies pounded the Aces 14-0. Maybe Fresno should invite Kel to every home game.
7. Better Call Saul Night, Albuquerque Isotopes
Move over, Walter White. Saul Goodman (a.k.a. Jimmy McGill) has become the biggest (fictional) star in Albuquerque and, as such, got his own theme night in July. The Isotopes donned these amazing Saul Goodman jerseys and the teams played in the back room of a nail salon. Just kidding on that last part.
6. Netflix and Chill Night, Binghamton Mets
We give credit to the Binghamton Mets for trying to stay hip with a Netflix and Chill Night, but they probably should've done some research before announcing this night. Soon after tweeting details of the promotion, the team's account was bombarded with "what are you thinking" tweets, leading team officials to change the theme to "Salute to Your Favorite Netflix Shows Night." That just doesn't have the same cache. But good try on their part.
5. Price is Right! Night, Pensacola Wahoos
Game show fans, come on down to Pensacola, where the Wahoos devoted an entire night to one of America's favorite game shows. The events included Human Plinko, Hole-In-One and other Price is Right! games. Fans were reminded to have their pets spayed and neutered. If only Bob Barker had made an appearance
4. Three Amigos Night, Fresno Grizzlies
The Three Amigos was described as "too confident, too relaxed, too clever to be really funny" when it hit theaters in 1986, but it has become a cult classic. On it's 30th anniversary, the Fresno Grizzlies paid tribute to the film with Three Amigos Night. The festivities included an acoustic performance of My Little Buttercup and a postgame fireworks display. But the real value are these Three Amigos-inspired uniforms, which deserve a spot in Cooperstown.
3. Keep Tom Brady Suspended Night, Buffalo Braves
It's rare to see a theme night conceived as a direct response to another team's theme night, but when Tom Brady and Deflategate are involved, anything is possible. Such was the case earlier this season when the Buffalo Braves held a Keep Tom Brady Suspended Night in July as a direct response to The Pawtucket Pawsox's Free Tom Brady Night. The Braves won the game and, more importantly, the NFL won its case against Brady, who will sit out the first four games of next season after dropping his appeal.
2. Full House Night, Brooklyn Cyclones
Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, there's a heart ( there's a heart), a hand to hold onto.” The Full House theme song was in everyone's heads in July when the Brooklyn Cyclones paid tribute to everyone's favorite TGIF show. The first 2,000 fans received Uncle Jesse bobblebeads and the uniforms included his trademark pink bunny. There was also a Danny Tanner Clean-Off, a Kimmy Gibbler Stinky Feet Competition and a "How Rude" Pout Cam.
1. Asparagus Night, Stockton Ports
Fire up your grill, bring your olive oil, maybe a little cheese. It's an asparagus party! That’s right, the Stockton Ports celebrated the famous vegetable in May with an Asparagus Night. Why? According to the team's website, "asparagus is the world’s favorite vegetable and a famous staple of Stockton." While a Google search of "most popular vegetable" tells a different story, we're not here to nitpick. Asparagus is an important vegetable and the Stockton Ports had every right to pay tribute to it.