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Isn't it about time you gave YOUR fans something great?
MLB.com / Kevin T. Czerwinski -  January 16, 2008
"This is our 40th
season in Omaha, and we were thinking of the best way to memorialize it.
We saw this product that was a high-class, individually numbered, authentic
product that provides a great way to celebrate our anniversary." - Rob Crain, Director of Marketing, Omaha Royals
Perspective: Royals,fans honor past.
Pitchers and catchers won't begin reporting for another month, and the Hot Stove has gone cold. So what's a baseball fan to do? Talk giveaways, of course.
Omaha celebrates 40th anniversary with statue
Okay, okay, I know this isn't the topic most people will sit down and have a conversation about. But I collect bobbleheads and statues, the one area of the overcrowded memorabilia market in which I actually indulge. Today's subject is the Omaha Royals and the interesting way they chose to decide how they will give away some promotional items in the upcoming season.
The O-Royals will be doling out a series of nifty statues produced by Alexander Global Promotions, the company responsible for the bulk of the bobbleheads that have been made over the last decade. AGP has entered another market over the last few seasons, though, that of making player statues.
These figures are marvelous little items and incredibly lifelike. And, they're coming to Omaha this summer. The Royals have commissioned AGP to make a series of four statues, each depicting the player who fans have voted as the greatest in each decade of the O-Royals existence. It's all part of the club's 40th anniversary celebration, and I think it's a great one.
The fans are involved, and that's what makes this fun. Earlier this month the team announced that Mike Sweeney was chosen as the Omaha player of the '90s, beating out Jeff Conine, Jermaine Dye, Bob Hamelin and Joe Randa in a vote on the club's website.
Sweeney, who played in Omaha in 1996 and 1997, joins David Cone, who was voted in by the fans as the O-Royal of the '80s. Voting is currently going on for the player of the '70s with George Brett, Dan Quisenberry, Frank White, Willie Wilson and Manager Jack McKeon fighting it out for the right to claim the title. The club will announce the candidates for the players of this decade next month. Each statue will be limited to a run of 1,500.
"This is our 40th season in Omaha, and we were thinking of the best way to memorialize it," Omaha director of marketing Rob Crain said. "We saw this product that was a high-class, individually numbered, authentic product that provides a great way to celebrate our anniversary. It was a collective decision after we discussed what would be the best way to celebrate. The fans are the ones who have supported us for 40 years, so we felt it was right for them to vote."
So why is this a big deal? Well, frankly, outside of Omaha and probably my basement office -- where my collection of bobbleheads and statues reside -- there probably isn't much of a frenzy to see how these statues turn out. But the folks at Alexander Global Promotions, led by National Sales Director Todd Goldenberg, have done a marvelous job of turning what had become a stagnant market -- the bobblehead giveaway -- and turned it into something just a bit more interesting.
Forgive my getting excited, but these statues are like little works of art, that's how lifelike they are. And after talking to Goldenberg I realized that it's not just a matter of saying, 'Hey, let's do a David Cone statue." There's a great deal of work involved.
"For this project, Rob and I had to decide what it was going to look like," Goldenberg said. "We don't just generate one image. I produce an entire presentation that goes to the factory. We present a distinct pose the player will be in, the color of his jersey, advise where the dirt should be on the players uniform and what it should look like. It's really exact.
"So we take a picture of the human being, say it's Brett hitting. He has a particular stance. Rob and I went through hundreds of pictures that seemed to be the most accurate and said yeah, that's George Brett. Then we had to find a facial picture that would match the batting picture. Most of the pictures are action shots and not from the front so finding a universal facial expression that fits is difficult."
Goldenberg said that production on the Sweeney and Cone statues is just about done and that he's awaiting word on the other two subjects.
"We've had fan choice on statues and bobbleheads before but this is the first time the fans have picked an entire series," Goldenberg said. "It just makes sense. If you put out a great promotional product then their fans are going to want to get it. And these are the fans that are going to keep going back to the website to see if their player has won. The fans feel like they've been a part of it and want to get the promotion that they helped produce."
Okay, so a conversation about bobbleheads and statues isn't as riveting as one regarding where Johan Santana will end up. But this is fun and something that can be debated -- will someone really vote for a player other than Brett in the '70s? Kudos to the O-Royals for a unique promotion that gets their fans involved.
Let me know what you think? What's your favorite bobblehead or statue. Drop me a line, and we can have a real geeked-out discussion.
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