04/02/2008 11:51 AM ET
The best stadium giveaways of 2008
Freebies include soul patches, sausage bobbleheads
A golf umbrella, soul patch and Polish racing sausage bobblehead are just a few of the items being given away in MLB ballparks this year. (MLB.com)
Bobbleheads and bobble-bellies, fan-designed T-shirts, plush cows, comfy seat cushions, ice cream sundae helmets, Rally Noodles, floppy hats and more. Ballpark promotions have a storied tradition almost as old as the game itself.
But for as many wacky and weird items that don't seem to make much sense, you'll also find useful household utensils, non-offensive clothing and collectibles that one day might fetch some serious dough.
Here's a baker's dozen of the best, most unique, useful -- and weirdest -- promotional giveaways on tap for the 2008 season.
Cleveland Indians, June 28 vs. Cincinnati, Free Money Night: Is there anything better than free money before you sit in your Jacobs Field seat to witness a hard-fought intra-state Interleague rivalry? One thing to know is that there are plenty of rules for this promotion, which you can read all about right here.
Detroit Tigers, Aug. 11 vs. Toronto, Back-to-School Stationery Set: Goofy stuff is always fun, but parents and teachers alike will appreciate the practicality of such an item a few weeks before the school year starts.
Kansas City Royals, May 10 vs. Baltimore, Golf Umbrella: There are lots of good golf courses in the Kansas City area, and also lots of rain, so what better tool to solve the occasional convergence of the two? One possible drawback: The umbrella won't help you with the lightning that often hits this part of the country. Maybe next year they'll have Rubber Suit Night.
Los Angeles Angels, Aug. 30 vs. Texas, Chest Protector Backpack:
"It's a backpack that looks like a chest protector. It's the first of its kind and it's just for kids." This wouldn't have anything to do with manager Mike Scioscia and the fact that he was an All-Star catcher in his playing days, would it?
Minnesota Twins, July 6 vs. Cleveland, New Ballpark Hard Hat: Perfect for those long days down at the worksite, and it'll help protect you from a Justin Morneau rocket if you're in the right-field upper deck at the Metrodome.
Seattle Mariners, April 12 vs. Los Angeles, J.J. Putz Soul Patch Night:
Showing chin solidarity with one of the best closers in the game is a good move. Also, Seattle gets pretty chilly on April nights, so why not have something warm and fuzzy to cover up at least part of your face?
Tampa Bay Rays, May 24 vs. Baltimore, Rays Disco Wig: This is a great addition to 1970s night at the Trop, but it won't be any fun unless this baby gets planted firmly on the bald dome of frequent Rays game ticket-holder Dick Vitale. Now that would be Awesome with a capital A, baby.
Chicago Cubs, July 9 vs. Cincinnati, Cubs 1908 hat: Hopefully for all the long-suffering Cubbie fans, July will bring a hometown team in the heat of a pennant race. This 1908 thing could have a lot of legs in the 100th anniversary year, so a little instant karma always helps.
Florida Marlins, Aug. 2 vs. Colorado, Marlins Car Freshener and Inflatable Air Guitar: This is an interesting pairing of giveaways, to be sure. We like the air-guitar-made-of-slightly-more-than-air idea for the sheer silliness factor, and the car freshener should really help in the sticky summers of South Florida.
Houston Astros, Aug. 14 vs. San Francisco, Leather Portfolio: Come on down to Minute Maid Park for this rare, classy item, and enjoy the fact that it's $1 hot dog night, too. That means if you're really hungry, and slightly deranged, you can fill your leather portfolio with the dollar franks before you leave.
Milwaukee Brewers, June 22 vs. Baltimore, Polish Racing Sausage Bobblehead: Speaking of pork by-products, finally one of baseball's great traditions is set in stone -- or plastic that loosely resembles stone. Face it, Brewers fans, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks are young enough that they'll have 16 bobbleheads each before they're through. Sausage, on the other hand, is timeless.
New York Mets, June 14 vs. Rangers, Shea Stadium Replica: Yankee Stadium is getting all the final-year hype in New York City, and it isn't exactly fair. Shea has tons of charm, two World Series championships and that beat-up home-run apple with the top hat. If you're a Mets fan, you need to get one of these replicas before the big yard in Flushing Meadows meets the wrecking ball.
St. Louis Cardinals, May 31 vs. Pittsburgh, "Go Green" Bag Night: See a game in one of the most rabid baseball towns in America and contribute to the well-being of the environment. And if you don't believe in global warming, three hours in late May in the stands in St. Louis should convince you of it. No word yet on whether Al Gore will be in attendance.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.