Major League Baseball teams have had promotional giveaway days for decades, and while most succeed in drawing extra fans to the stadium, a few don't seem to have been conceived of wisely. The debacle of Ball Day at Dodger Stadium in 1995 comes to mind, when a large portion of the 50,000+ fans on hand decided to launch their complimentary baseballs onto the field in the ninth inning, leading to a Dodgers forfeit.
In an another unfortunate choice of giveaways, a couple of years ago the Chicago White Sox gave fans white rain ponchos, which many people noticed appeared very similar to KKK outfits when fans put them on during the game.
Lately, ball clubs have been stepping up on their game in terms of giveaways. The handouts go well beyond basic hats and bobbleheads and now include fun, kitschy items like Bob Uecker alarm clocks (Milwaukee Brewers, July 10) and R2D2 Yankees knit caps (Yankee Stadium, August 5). Here are 10 awesome giveaways baseball fans can catch—in addition to a game—during the 2016 MLB season.
San Diego Padres Pet Calendar: April 24
On Sunday, April 24, everyone entering Petco Park for the Padres game against the St. Louis Cardinals gets a 2016 calendar featuring team players and puppies. Other giveaways this season for Padres home games include Padres hoodies (May 7) and ear buds (July 30).
Boston Red Sox BB8 Star Wars Ball: May 9
Special tickets for Star Wars Night at Fenway Park come with a limited-edition BB8 Red Sox baseball—in addition to admission to watch the game against the Oakland A's.
St. Louis Cardinals Yadier Molina Garden Gnome: May 20
Fans attending Cardinals home games this season get to snag giveaways like replica 1946 World Series championship rings (May 6), replica 2006 World Series championship trophies (June 3), and garden gnome replicas of catcher Yadier Molina (May 20).
Pittsburgh Pirates Portable Speaker: May 22
Every Friday when the Pirates play at home is Free Shirt Friday—which is just like what it sounds, in which every fan with a ticket gets a T-shirt. The giveaways this season also include multiple bobbleheads, Pirates fedoras (June 4), and—for kids 14 and younger only—a portable speaker featuring the logos of the team and the promotion's sponsor, Mrs. T's Pierogies.
Seattle Mariners Bomber Hat: May 27
The first 20,000 fans inside the park for the April 29 Seattle home game against the Kansas City Royals score a Mariners knit hat with a fake beard attached. On May 27, the giveaway is a funky Mariners bomber hat, for the first 15,000 fans only.
Kansas City Royals BBQ Spatula: June 19
The Royals giveaway on Father's Day, June 19, is a big spatula with the KC logo. There's no need to prove your fatherhood—spatulas are given to the first 10,000 male fans in attendance.
Los Angeles Angels Ugly Sweater Hat: June 24
The Angels have tons of giveaways this season, including Mike Trout wall catch figurines (May 20), ugly Christmas sweater hats (June 24), '70s rally monkeys (July 15), and the most SoCal freebie ever, selfie sticks (May 6).
Chicago Cubs Pajama Bottoms: July 19
It can get cold for fans at Cubs home games, so these cozy pajama bottoms may come in handy—if not during their July 19 promotion, then later in the season. PJs are available for the first 10,000 fans only.
Cleveland Indians Fedora: August 19
Get to the Indians game on Friday, August 19, early to ensure you're among the 10,000 fans lucky enough to grab one of these sweet free team fedoras.
Tampa Bay Rays Super Hero Socks: September 4
The Rays have their own fedora giveaway day (May 14), as well as games when fans get backpack coolers (May 28), Star Wars Stormtrooper bobbleheads (June 11), foam bats and balls (June 19), laundry hampers (August 7), and—for kids 14 and under only—super hero socks with caps, sponsored by Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.