March 13, 2007 - Appalachian League (ApL) - Princeton Rays
To help commemorate it's 20th year as an Appalachian League baseball franchise, the Princeton Devil Rays announced on February 21 the creation of the "Legends of Princeton Baseball" bobblehead doll series, which will span throughout the 2007 Appalachian League regular season. The series will happen at five P-Rays' home games in 2007 and at each of the five designated "nights," the first 500 fans in attendance will receive a 7-inch bobblehead doll created in the likeness of a former legend of professional baseball in Princeton. Five corporate sponsors throughout the local community have joined together to make this series become a reality and they are joined by WVVA-TV 6 of Bluefield (the local NBC television affiliate), who has agreed to be co-sponsor on all five of the replicas.
The five dolls, giveaway game dates, themes, and corporate sponsors are as follows:
June 28-Wes Bankston (sponsored by the Lewis Insurance Agency): This bobblehead represents "the future" as Wes appears very close to making his major league debut in the near future. Despite a 2002 P-Rays' team that had a woeful 19-49 record that year, Wes overcame these obstacles by putting up stellar numbers and being named the Appalachian League's Most Valuable Player for that season, the most recent time a Princeton player has won this award.
July 10-Jamie Nelson (sponsored by First Century Bank): This bobblehead represents "the winningest" as this summer will mark Jamie's fifth consecutive year as manager of the P-Rays and he enters the 2007 season in the top spot in Princeton's all-time franchise history with 108 career managerial victories. With this victory total, he will also enter the upcoming season in 21st place in career managerial victories in Appalachian League history.
July 23-Seth McClung (sponsored by Dr. Zane Lawhorn, Optometrist): This bobblehead represents "the local" as Seth's local ties (he is a graduate of nearby Greenbrier East High School as well as starting his pro career as a 1999 P-Ray) and the success he has achieved to date as both a starting and relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been well documented.
August 10-Rocco Baldelli (sponsored by Taco Bell): This bobblehead represents "the stardom" as 25-year old Rocco is already widely acknowledged as one of the game's premier and most versatile centerfielders. He began learning his lessons as a member of the 2000 P-Rays and rose through the minors at a breathtaking pace, culminating with finishing third in the American League's "Rookie of the Year" balloting in 2003.
August 17-John Stearns (sponsored by J&M Heating and Cooling): This bobblehead represents "the champion" as John managed the 1994 Princeton Reds to the franchise's only Appalachian League Championship to date. His 43 overall victories in a single season (1994) remains a record here and also in that same season he became the only Princeton manager to date to be named as the league's "Manager of the Year." In November, 1995, the Princeton franchise retired John's Princeton uniform number (33) with this number never to be worn again by anyone playing professional baseball for a team representing the city of Princeton, West Virginia.
"Our organization is very excited about this promotion and I would personally rank it as maybe the very top one that has been put together in my 16 years here. We certainly hope our fans will make very effort to try and collect all five," said P-Rays' General Manager Jim Holland, who added that the team will have two additional "nights" when the first 500 fans in attendance will receive a detailed figurine of two additional former P-Rays' stars. The dates for those two have yet to be determined but the figurines involved will be of Tampa Bay superstar outfielder Carl Crawford (1999 P-Ray) and young TB slugger Jonny Gomes (2001 P-Ray and 2001 Appalachian League MVP).
The Princeton franchise has had some sort of promotion or giveaway at every home game since the conclusion of the 1991 season and Holland expects 2007 to be no different.
"It's certainly going to be a year for collectors of baseball related giveaways with us. We already have enough promotions to fill our 2007 calendar but haven't assigned a home date for many of them yet. I also hope we are not through and we would like to have even more. You can never have enough promotions and giveaways," concluded Holland.
Persons needing more information can contact the P-Rays front office either by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at (304) 487-2000.