Generals don't strike out with Beer Batter promotion (video)
Omar Garcia didn't necessarily have a rooting interest at Riverside Stadium in late June, but you couldn't tell judging by how hard he was riding Acadiana Cane Cutters infielder Andrew Brown.
After all, a lot was riding on Brown's performance, or lack thereof. A strikeout by Brown would have made his night.
Not necessarily because Garcia is much of a Generals fan, but because a strikeout would mean draft beer would be on sale at the party deck for the rest of the inning.
When Brown grounded out, he and some of the other fans on the party deck, let him have it.
"He's a Beer Batter, it's summer ball, he can afford a strike out," Garcia said with a smile. "That's all we want is one strikeout so it doesn't hurt our wallets too much."
The Beer Batter has become one of the most popular in game promotions at Riverside Stadium for the Generals. In the world of sports, where a beer at a professional or minor-league game can cost almost as much if not more than a upper level seat at some places, any promotion that lowers the price of beer is welcomed with open arms and long lines.
RANDOM NAME ON THE LINEUP CARD
Before every game, the Generals public address announcer, Jonathan Williams, selects a player from the visiting team to be the designated Beer Batter for the game.
Whenever that player strikes out, draft beer goes on sale for the rest of the inning.
Although the Beer Batter is playing for the opposing team, he becomes popular among Generals fans on the party deck, located along the first-base line behind the visitor's dugout.
"Jonathan (Williams) offers to buy the beer batter beer if he strikes out," said party deck bartender Gabby Benoit about a regular customer.
A HIT FROM CAPE COD
Generals GM Blake Koch first heard about the promotion during his time as an assistant coach for the team in 2009.
Former Generals pitcher Willie Kempf played in the Cape Cod League the previous season, and told members of the coaching staff about the promotion.
The team relayed the message to management and the Generals adopted the promotion.
Although the team doesn't keep track of how much more beer is sold when the Beer Batter strikes out, Koch said the promotion has been a hit with fans since its inception.
"You'll see a lot of people that'll wait around, if they need a refill or another drink, they'll wait until the Beer Batter goes," Koch said. "If he strikes out, that's great. Then they'll go get two for one."
The team has the Beer Batter promotion every home game, except on Thursday's, when beer is already on sale.
In the first 20 home games the Beer Batter promotion has been in effect, the designated opponent has struck out seven times.
KEEPING FANS HOOKED
Koch said the promotion keeps fan interested even if the contest turns into a lopsided one.
The general manager spends home games running around Riverside Stadium and admits that hearing fan heckling on the party deck can bring a smile to his face.
"It's definitely a good source of entertainment just to hear what the fans have to say," Koch said. "It's always a fun time in that regard for sure."
Williams, the public address announcer, typically plays a sound effect that resembles a beer being pour into a cup just as the Beer Batter comes up to the plate.
The audio cue is not just a warning for Generals fans, but to those on the beer deck.
READY FOR THE RUSH
"You have to get ready and pay attention," said party-deck bartender Tylar Walyuchow. "We start pouring beer early because it's normally a mad rush."
Benoit said a strikeout means more beer buyers and better tips, but the rush makes party-deck bartenders earn every dollar they get.
"It gets stressful because people are already a little bit drunk so they want their beer," Benoit said.
Although negative feedback from opposing players and managers and baseball purist may be expected because of the promotion, Koch said that's not the case.
In fact, Koch said the other teams in the TCL have Beer Batters at their home games and the promotion.
"The guys on the opposing team think of it as a challenge more than anything," Koch said. "It's part of summer league ball."
For Garcia, a former Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball player, the Beer Batter added another fun staple to a night at the ballpark.
Brown wasn't listening to his strikeout request, so Garcia directed his words toward another, hopefully more receptive, set of ears.
"He smiled and walked off, now I've been talking to his assistant coach," Garcia said. "We're trying to get the umpire to expand his zone a little bit."