April 22, 2005 - California League (CalL) - Lake Elsinore Storm
The Lake Elsinore Storm kicked off their home stand in grand style tonight as they poked fun at pop and recording mega-star Michael Jackson. The night, entitled King of Pop-Beat it Night found the crowd rolling in their seats as the spoofs and antics seemed to never stop. The festivities got under way as soon as fans entered the gates, each fan that passes through the turn styles received a medical mask and white glove, a tongue-and-cheek joke aimed at Jacko. From there fans were entertained by Storm mascot Thunder. Just before the first pitch Thunder rolled out from behind the centerfield wall on his green ATV, dressed from head to toe in classic Michael Jackson attire, complete with gold shin guards and a rhinestone glove fit for a pop-star.
With Jacksons music blaring over the PA system it brought out the dancer hid deep inside fans, players and front office personnel. In fact members of the Storm front office preformed their rendition of Michael Jacksons thriller on top of the home dugout in-between innings. Fans could also visit the Neverland Ranch petting zoo setup on the concourse. The Storms Neverland Ranch petting zoo consisted of a fenced of s childrens playpen filled with stuffed animals. The night was highlighted with a live interview with Michael Jackson. Jackson tapped into the Storms PA via satellite and was interviewed by Storm public address announcer Joe Martinez. During the interview Martinez asked Jackson questions abut the trial, his health, and him being a fan of the Storm baseball team. The interview, which was setup using sound bites of Jackson had fans, players, umpires and coaches laughing so hard it brought some of them to tears. When we found the sound bites, the fake interview idea just seemed too funny to pass up on, said Mark Beskid, Storm Director of Graphic Communication.
Opposing team headshots were all pictures of Michael Jackson throughout his life. Ranging from his younger days when he was a part of the Jackson 5, to the most recent picture of him after his booking in 2004. In game entertainment included a baby toss that saw two fans throwing baby dolls and attempting to catch them in strollers on the third base line. The night was tapped off with an appearance from the Storm mascot Thunder dangling a miniature version of himself from the sky box during the seventh innings stretch.
The idea for the night started to form some time in February during one of our midweek brainstorming sessions, and from there the idea snowballed, stated Storm Director of Media & Public Relations, Casey Hauan. The ideas came from everywhere, with a front office staff of over 20 people we had plenty of brains to pick. With Jacksons trial happening so close to us we felt that we had to do something to recognize the situation.