Four Minor League teams will play games during this year's solar eclipse
The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of the Cut4Cast podcast. To hear more of the Cut4 staff's weekly banterings about which position player is the best at pitching or how baseball would work in outer space, subscribe to the Cut4Cast by clicking here.
This week, MiLB.com's Ben Hill tells Gemma about the coolest upcoming Minor League promotions and dishes on Tim Tebow's performance with the Columbia Fireflies. Need to know about Boba Fett uniforms or pork sandwiches shaped like actual pigs? Hill, who covers all things business and culture about the Minor Leagues, is the one to ask.
Gemma Kaneko: Are there any promotions coming up that you're really excited about?
Ben Hill: There are a lot of the typical themed jerseys and bobbleheads and things that are pretty cool. But there is one thing this year that is awesome, because it's very specific to this year. As you may be aware, August 21 is a national eclipse.
The eclipse is starting in the west coast and moving east throughout the day. Certain cities, throughout the day, will be in the path of totality. It'll be totally dark when the eclipse takes place. There are five Minor League teams in the path of totality. Four of them are doing eclipse games, where they are playing a game that will have a purposeful delay for the eclipse. Fans get the sunglasses and get to witness an eclipse at the ballpark. I can't think of any examples where there is a built-in delay in a professional baseball game, and I think that's going to be a really cool thing.
Gemma: That is so cool. Do you know the names of those clubs off the top of your head?
Ben: I do. The team that originally had the idea was the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest.
Gemma: What a great name!
Ben: They are going to be in the path of totality first. Their game is at 9-something in the morning with an eclipse delay at 9:45 or 10 am. The other teams are more on the eastern part of the country: the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the Nashville Sounds and the Columbia Fireflies are all in the path of totality and having a promotion.
I'm actually going to go to the game in Columbia. They have a glow-in-the-dark theme, [so] it kind of makes sense. Also, they are going to be in the path of totality. It'll be for about two minutes there. Who knows? Maybe Tim Tebow will still be there. That's August 21. A lot can happen in a baseball season in between now and then.
Gemma: He'll be a Met, obviously, by then.
Ben: That's my guess. I guess he'll probably get called up in mid-July and probably by the time the eclipse hits, have six homers in the Majors.
Gemma: I know I said I wouldn't necessarily bring up Tim Tebow, but here we go. What has that been like for the Fireflies?
Ben: I wrote a story about that at the end of March from the more Minor League "business angle." It's huge. You obviously have to go back to 1994 and Michael Jordan to find anything comparable to having a player be such a draw at the Minor League level.
And it's not something teams traditionally market, because it's the nature of Minor League baseball. You might get promoted, demoted, released, traded. You can't really brand yourself around any specific player.
But Tebow, because he has no experience in professional baseball, might be around a little longer in Class A. Not just the Fireflies, but every single team in the South Atlantic league is excited because any game he shows up to as the opponent means a sellout or close to it. Especially early in the season on a night where you may have had 2,000 people, you're going to have 8,000 people. It means a lot from that perspective.
Want to hear more about wacky Minor League happenings, including that time Ben won a mascot race dressed as Ronald Reagan? Just tune into the Cut4Cast here.