The MLB All-Star events have grown into a weeklong baseball and branding extravaganza that have not just surpassed the original intention of the events, but have expanded into what is arguably the largest multi-day single sport platform in the industry. Super Bowl is a celebration of a championship, the All-Star festivals of the other professional leagues and the Olympics toast multiple sports during its bi-annual runs, winter and summer. Even the World Cup, coming into focus in Brazil in 2014, is spread across a nation, not confined to the one city like the baseball All-Star events are. Each event in each sport has its own traditions and creates its own memories, but it seems that baseball, for all its traditions, continues to re-define the All-Star experience while finding new ways to engage casual and traditional fans.
While there are so many ways baseball sets itself apart, two ideas that sprung up at Monday’s Politico breakfast, hosted by Bank of America and featuring Commissioner Bud Selig in a discussion with Politico’s Mike Allen, came up as more unique and more worthy than most.
Ironically one came from a new media channel, tweeted in by a young boy, while the other was presented by the host, a longtime partner of MLB. The ideas show both the simplicity and the complexity that baseball can present to its fans, and why it remains such a strong and sometimes emotional activation platform.
The simple idea was presented by Allen to Selig via twitter. It was a thoughtful notion which could spring new areas of media coverage and casts a light on some people on the field most fans know little about. The idea was to mention the names and hometowns of the team’s batboys as they take the field every night. Not the honorary batboys that come out fully sponsored, but the young men and women who play a role, usually anonymous in and around the field every game. They have stories all their own, sometimes coming from a long tradition, some found by chance, with a pedigree that is rarely explained. Surely sometimes they are offspring of players and coaches, but more often than not they have come through a system, paid their dues, and have normal and interesting lives that many fans and the media take for granted. Maybe there is a program to honor the more accomplished or legendary batboys over the years…Selig could not recall any great stories off the top of his head…but maybe, like the traditions of tennis and golf, there is a call for open tryouts for ballboys as well. While keeping the process commercialized could be a minimalized, a little more well deserved light could be shed on ballboys in major and minor league towns, a smart suggestion sent in through new media.
The second idea was announced by B of A, and will take place during the seventh inning of Tuesday nights game. Following the playing of “God Bless America,” fans at Citifield will be asked to continue standing…and every fan still standing will be part of a large donation to veteran’s charities by the bank. Technology will allow the bank to capture all those continuing to rise, and each fan will have a dollar connected to him, which could make for an instant and emotional donation to the military in excess of $40,000, all by a simple gesture ala what baseball did with Stand Up to cancer last fall. It is an easy and actionable idea that takes a few seconds and does not require much hype. Understated, and over delivered on ROI as part of the ever growing relationship between bank of America and baseball.
So yes there will and have been hundreds of unique platforms and moments captured during this All-Star week. All are notable, but these two seemed to stand out just a bit more for their simplicity, ingenuity and effectiveness in making an impression. Enjoy the game and all around it this week.