Spring is clearly one occasion in which fans have a great opportunity to interact with players.
During late February and through March, players become available to fans by walking between drills. Most stop to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Plus, players tend the linger after their daily workout to continue the process.
This represents one way in which a team can reach out to its fans and, in recent years, another experience has grown.
Most clubs take that to the next level when an “open house” is held. Perhaps this is a greater occasion to mingle with the Boys of Summer than shouting out behind a wire fence at a spring training venue. As well, this give the team a chance to promote its brand, sell tickets and gain additional corporate partners.
The fans feel involved and the “up close and personal” experience of the open house lends well into a team’s overall marketing strategy.
The Diamondbacks will hold its version of the “open house” this Saturday February 9 from 10 am to 5 pm in Chase Field. The event is the ninth annual FanFest for the team, and last year’s experience drew more than 25,000.
In addition to player availability, the D-backs will host a 5K run and there will be kids-only free autograph sessions. For adults, there are a limited number of $5 autography vouchers for purchase, and proceeds benefit the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation.
FanFest also gives fans an opportunity to tour the D-backs clubhouse, interact with players through Facebook and Twitter, pose with players during photo opportunities, engage in family fun zones, wiffle ball swings for the kids, arts and craft for kids, and auditions for National Anthem singers, Rally-backs, Legends competitors, and Golden Glovers.
Fans will also have the opportunity to purchase tickets for spring training games at Salt River Field, regular season games at Chase Field and the World Baseball Classic headed to Chase Field March 9 and 10.
The Diamondbacks will soon get an unexpected pitcher to training camp.
Currently, competition is under way among renown quarterbacks on the art of mastering the knuckleball. With instruction from former knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, five are engaged. The winner will be invited to the D-backs camp and pitch in a spring training game.
“I’ve dedicated my entire baseball life to the challenging art of throwing the knuckleball,” says Wakefield. “Now, I’ve embarked on this mission to continue the knuckleball legacy. These guys were great athletes on the gridiron so I wanted to try this experiment out. You don’t have to grip the baseball the way I threw it, but if you want to win, you have to lose the spin.”
Competitors include John David Booty, former QB at Southern California, his brother Josh Booty from LSU, David Greene out of Georgia, Doug Flutie from Boston College and various NFL and Canadian League teams, and Ryan Perrilloux, who played at LSU and Jacksonville State.
The MLB Network will show the competition, called The Next Knuckler, beginning Wednesday night Feb. 13 at 9 PM Eastern time on the MLB Network. The one deemed with the best knuckle ball by Wakefield and MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar earns a trip to Salt River.
Competition is currently held at the Dodgers old spring training facility in Vero Beach, Fla.