Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

June 12, 2007

P-Rays entice with promotions

PRINCETON — It happens every summer in Mercer County. Baseball, and plenty of it.

Hunnicutt Field will welcome the first pitch of the 2007 Appalachian League season next Thursday. The Bluefield Orioles will do the same next Tuesday.

For those who haven’t been to a game in a while, or are simply counting down the days until football season, Jim Holland has a message:

“I always tell them it’s one of those things,” said Holland, Princeton’s general manager since 1992. “Try it, you’ll like it.”

Especially this year. Like free stuff? Princeton is the place to be.

“We have a proud history of having a promotion or give-away at every home game since 1991,” said Holland, whose P-Rays will offer five bobblehead give-aways and a pair of figurine nights during its 34 home games this season. “That does kind of put some emphasis on us.

“It’s like a streak of any kind, you feel it and you want to keep it going and you work with it.”

Princeton, which will celebrate its 20th season as a professional baseball franchise this season, will open its campaign on June 21 by hosting the Kingsport Mets.

Not only will admission be free for everyone, but the first 500 fans will receive a P-Rays’ ballbat pen, and the initial 700 through the gate will get a magnet schedule.

That’s a typical night at Hunnicutt. Unlike Major League teams that can depend on its players as a drawing card, the P-Rays have a constantly-changing roster which often requires promotions to entice fans to the ballpark.

“That’s the secret at this level. The actual amount of hardcore, scorebook-keeping baseball fans is small and at this level you can’t market a player,” said Holland, whose P-Rays are entering their 11th season as a rookie league franchise of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. “That’s where your things come in like your bobble heads, your seat cushions, your camouflage caps, etc.

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