The Houston Astros, already off to a fast start on the field, have planned more promotional giveaways for fans at Minute Maid Park this season than ever before.
More bobbleheads, more replica jerseys (Editor’s note: How about those Space City fits!), more Dollar Dogs and more, well, everything. And, topping the fan’s wish list: more highly collectible championship rings.
“This is our third ring (one World Series and two American League titles) in five years,” says Anita Sehgal, Astros senior vice-president, marketing and communications. “Our fans really have rallied behind them. We try to come up with something different with each ring giveaway. This year we’re giving fans an opportunity to create a collection.”
“We will give away eight rings. Seven rings will have players’ names on them and one will have manager Dusty Baker’s name.”
Fans can check the promotional calendar here for specific ring giveaway dates. The first ring game will be April 19 with 10,000 fans receiving Yordan Alvarez AL Champion Replica Rings. The following night 10,000 fans will get Jose Altuve AL Champion Rings.
Because of supply chain challenges, the first Alvarez and Altuve rings will be limited to the first 10,000 fans through the gates. Doors open two hours before the scheduled game start. The other six ring giveaways will have every fan in attendance getting a ring. An additional Avarez and Altuve ring date will be added with all fans getting the ring.
The first bobblehead giveaway, with Yordan Alvarez hoisting the 2021 American League championship trophy, will be handed out Opening Night, April 18.
Here’s something I didn’t know: I asked Sehgal how much input players have in creating their bobblehead. Do you ask if the player even wants a bobblehead? Do they get a say if their bobblehead is hitting or fielding? Or do they want their bobblehead to commemorate a specific achievement?
Answer: none of the above. “A bobblehead is just as much a surprise to the player as it is to our fans,” she says. “That’s part of the fun for everybody. We make sure that the player who’s featured gets a bunch of bobbleheads so he can give them to his family and friends.”
Dollar dogs and big bangs
Tuesday Dollar Dog nights are back. Same with Friday night fireworks.
“Fireworks are a longstanding tradition and we love it,” says Sehgal. “Every Friday night has a theme and we curate the show to a music playlist. We will have an Elton John and Billy Joel night for the two fabulous concerts we have coming up at Minute Maid Park.”
The Astros marketing department has a self-imposed challenge each year — come up with something new for the following season. One recent big hit is Princess Day, which will be held July 31.
“Princess Day is one of the things we started doing a few years ago and it’s really taken off,” Sehgal adds. “It’s so much fun to see grandparents, parents and daughters at a game. Fans will dress up as princesses. We’ll have princesses here for fans to take photos with. Over the last few years our players' families have brought their children and really turned Princess Day into a fun family event.”
The Astros have embraced fans who love to follow stats and updates on their phones at Minute Maid Park. As part of a new partnership with Reliant, there will be phone charging stations throughout the ballpark this season. Sehgal promises that there are enough charging stations (“tons of them”) so fans won’t have to hover over them like buzzards waiting for a turn. (You know, like you see at airport.)
“This will be the 60th season of Major League Baseball in Houston and we’ll have a robust promotional schedule celebrating our past, present and future,” Sehgal notes.
For the H
She admits that the marketing department can give away rings, bobble heads, jerseys, and key chains galore, but nothing keeps fans excited and coming back to the ball park more than the Astros winning games.
“The best marketing tool we have is for our players to continue doing what they’ve been doing — winning championships,” Sehgal says. “We’re lucky that the team is very talented, but also that the players are great people off the field, too. It’s really fun to market our players. It actually makes our job a little tougher because we want to rise to the level that they’re at on the field.”
Get your gear
Here is the promotional schedule for the first home stand against the Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays.
April 18: Yordan Alvarez bobble head (10,000 fans), and a magnetic schedule for your refrigerator (all fans).
April 19: Yordan Alvarez AL Champion replica ring (10,000 fans), Dollar Dog Night, Autism Awareness Night.
April 20: Jose Altuve AL Champion replica ring (10,000 fans).
April 22: Flashback Friday (1960s), Throwback Alex Bregman Colt .45s road jersey (10,000 fans), pre-game happy hour (5-7 pm), Friday night fireworks.
April 23: Faith and Family Night featuring Micah Tyler.