After realizing the success of Bully’s Kidz Kourt at basketball games, we expanded the concept to baseball in 2016. We designated a kid-friendly area on the third base side of the stadium for this purpose, but with the renovation of our stadium, we will move the Lil’ Dudes Zone to the outfield behind right center field at the base of our video board. This kids area is equipped with a bounce house, inflatable slide, corn hole-boards, baseball throwing inflatable, and more! Lil’ Dudes Zone allows children that are too young to sit through an entire baseball game to have a place for interaction and activity, which is perfect for families. Special appearances by the live mascot Jak are also made throughout the season, with Bully often checking in to interact with the Lil’ Dudes. Birthday parties through Bully’s Kids Club are also held in this area to allow party guests an opportunity to go back and forth between playing in the Lil’ Dudes Zone and the party festivities.
In an effort to attract local families to midweek baseball fans, we continued our promotion of $2 Midweeks. Collaborating with our ticket office and our concessions provider, we offer $2 tickets, $2 hotdogs, and $2 drinks, and compared to $5/$10 tickets, $4 hotdogs, and $5 drinks. This allows a family to enjoy a night at the ballpark for a very reasonable price.
FRIDAY NIGHT FIREWORKS
Continuing our partnership with Marathon Petroleum, we could not end the fan-favorite Friday Night Fireworks promotion for conference play. This promotion is intended to help drive families out to Friday conference games, while also encouraging fans to stay for the entire game. To increase fan engagement with the promotion, we will again be conducting Twitter polls prior to each game to allow fans to decide what music will be played during that night’s display. This allows those staying the entire game to watch a spectacular fireworks show set to fan-selected music. Fireworks begin no more than 30 seconds after the final out of the game. This second season of Friday Night Fireworks yielded our largest SEC Friday night average attendance in program history, 8,540 fans per game, besting our previous record (the 2016 season) by more than 100 fans per game.
The Dudes is our official baseball student support group and an extension of our student rewards program, Hail State Rewards. This program is designed to increase student attendance at baseball games. Students could join by attending our Cowbell Yell at Dudy Noble or through their Hail State Rewards mobile app. The Dudes members earned credit (and Hail State Rewards points) for attending our home baseball games and received an exclusive Adidas “Dudes” t-shirt, priority access to our grandstand seating when available, the chance to be named “Dude of the Game” and be recognized during the game on the field or dugout and get a commemorative baseball, and more. In order to encourage continued attendance, “Dudes” are given baseball specific prizes for coming to games. By attending every SEC game, a student earned a team-autographed baseball. By attending every home game, a student was rewarded with a team-autographed bat.
From a big picture perspective, this membership provides us with valuable data on our members and their involvement with Mississippi State baseball. Therefore, this provides an outstanding opportunity for us to push season ticket sales for baseball for recent graduates.
Membership in the program for the 2017 season, as well as the 2018 season is more than 1,000 students, believed to be the largest baseball student support group in the nation.
LEFT FIELD LOUNGE & THE TRANSITION
The Left Field Lounge is one of the most time-honored traditions in collegiate baseball. Since 1967, Mississippi State baseball fans have continued to grow and expand the Lounge. What started as truck tailgates backed up to the outfield fence has since evolved into “rigs” built on top of old milk trucks, trailers, and other sturdy-enough contraptions. In an effort to preserve this tradition while ensuring the safety of our fans, the new Dudy Noble Field features permanent structures which Left Field Loungers can use as a foundation for their new rigs. Each rig owner was given the choice of four shapes and tiers, and now has the ability to customize and bring the character back to each individual space.
DUDY NOBLE FIELD CELEBRATION SERIES
Dudy Noble Field – Polk Dement Stadium – is home to the top 10 largest on-campus crowds in college baseball history and has been home to some of the greatest to ever play the game. As we ushered in the end of an era of the old stadium, we wanted to find a way to celebrate the history, the people, and the legends who built the Carnegie Hall of College Baseball. To do so, we organized a “Celebration Series” for the final regular season series in the stadium, before renovation and demolition work was set to begin.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS Game 1 – Thursday, May 18 at 6 p.m. GIVEAWAY: Andy Cannizaro Celebration Series Shirseys Before first pitch, we honored the senior Bulldogs and Diamond Girls who dedicated their collegiate careers to Mississippi State and helped Bulldog Baseball reclaim its rightful spot atop the SEC. Our seniors and graduates alike were recognized for their outstanding career achievements and were presented with their diploma at home plate by MSU President, Dr. Mark Keenum. Game 2 – Friday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m. During Friday night’s game two against LSU, we celebrated the greatest fans in college baseball – the people responsible for the entire Top 10 largest on-campus college baseball crowds of all time. In addition to video features and Friday Night Fireworks, there was a special first pitch ceremony to honor the historic Left Field Lounge. We selected five fans who are known by all throughout the Left Field Lounge and had them throw out a ceremonial first pitch from their physical Left Field Lounge rig beyond the outfield wall, to a player in the outfield. A video, with a script written by noted author John Grisham, preceded the first pitches, which showed the history and the people who created the Left Field Lounge and the atmosphere of Dudy Noble Field. In the seventh inning of the game, former player, WWII veteran, and centenarian Rip Harper sang God Bless America.
Game 3 – Saturday, May 20 at 3:30 p.m. GIVEAWAY: Commemorative Dudy Noble Field Posters & Boo Ferriss Shirseys For Saturday afternoon’s series and regular season finale, we welcomed back and looked back on the heroes of Bulldog Baseball, the legends who made Mississippi State baseball what it is today. Players from all generations returned to celebrate a program that’s been to the College World Series for five-straight decades, and fans heard from former coaches and players throughout the day. Additionally, we honored two of the greatest names in program history as we celebrated Boo Ferriss Day and welcomed back the family and 98 year old brother of stadium namesake, Dudy Noble himself. Our official Celebration Series ceremony took place immediately before the game and included numerous former players, who lined the edges of the field, despite inclement weather. The back of the infield was lined with championship flags, signifying every SEC championship and College World Series appearance that had happened in the life of the current ballpark. For the final ceremonial first pitch at Dudy Noble Field, we invited back the same starting pitcher and catcher who threw out the first pitch of the first game in 1967 when the ballpark opened.
Each of these special days were designed to celebrate the historic nature of the ballpark and allow our fans an opportunity to celebrate the great moments witnessed at Dudy Noble Field.
BOO FERRISS DAY / SHIRSEY
David “Boo” Ferriss was one of Mississippi State’s baseball greats. After playing for three years at Mississippi State under legendary Coach Dudy Noble, Boo was drafted by the Boston Red Sox where he became one of the league’s best pitchers for several years before he suffered a career-ending shoulder injury. Boo won thirteen straight games at Fenway Park in 1946, which is still a major-league record. In 2002, Boo was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. In addition, the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, named after the legend himself, is awarded every year to the best college baseball player in the state of Mississippi.
Boo passed away on November 24, 2016, right before his 95th birthday. Because of his contributions to not only Mississippi State baseball, but to baseball in the state of Mississippi and to the Boston Red Sox, we honored him by dedicating our last home game to him and designating it as “Boo Ferriss Day”. We gave away a Boo Ferriss “shirsey” to the first 500 fans in attendance, which bears the likeness of his 1940s-era Mississippi State jersey, held a pregame recognition honoring his family, and played an in-game video that commemorated his life and successful baseball career. The team also wore a “BOO” decal on the back of their batting helmets for the entire 2017 season.
COMMEMORATIVE BASEBALL GIVEAWAY (SEC CHAMPIONS)
To commemorate our 2016 SEC Championship, we gave away commemorative baseballs as the 2017 season opener with the SEC Championship logo printed on them. These were a hit to fans, as they lined up over an hour early to get the limited edition item.
GREEK CHOPPED CHALLENGE
Inspired by Chopped, the popular Food Network show, we invited our fraternities to compete in our own version of the cooking challenge during a game to get our Greek community involved in a unique way. We had a designated area in the Left Field Lounge for the event and used a live camera and a dynamic in-game host to ensure the fans in attendance got to see all the action throughout the game.
In the first inning, the baskets of ingredients were unveiled to each fraternity’s five designated chefs. Just like the show, the contestants each raced against the clock to have their meal done in time. In the third inning, we began with an intro video explaining how the competition would work and the time limit, which would be from the third until the middle of the seventh inning. In each live shot, we had our in-game host emceeing the event. In the first live-look-in we introduced the contestants and they raced to grab their ingredients. By the fifth inning when we did a live-look-in on the contestants the crowd was locked in to it and cheering on each contestant as they scrambled to get ingredients. Finally, in the seventh, when the judges – who were some of the owners of some of the more legendary rigs – were announced the crowd was on edge to know the winner. The “Greek Chopped Challenge” was a huge success and had the crowd’s attention throughout the game. It partnered well with the tradition of the Left Field Lounge and the tailgating atmosphere that the Lounge helped create. The crowd loved highlighting the lounge in this way and it will be something we will continue to do in the future.
NEW VIDEO BOARD & ENHANCED STATS
One of the things asked for most by our fans are enhanced stats for our games. As a part of our new video board installation, we added 10 new stats to the video board to provide our fans never-before-seen stats inside Dudy Noble Field. These additions drew rave reviews from our fans and we are working to expand them even further for the future.
KIDS DAY AT THE PARK PRESENTED BY LE BONHEUR
The last game of every baseball series (typically on Sunday) is Kids Day at the Park, sponsored by Le Bonheur’s Children’s Hospital. In addition to providing the Lil’ Dudes Kids Zone, we invite kids up to age 12 to stay until the end of the game to run a lap around the bases. This increases our Sunday attendance by attracting families to the ballpark and then encourages parents to stay until the completion of the game so that their children can receive this exclusive access. On average, over 100 kids line up at the field gate to participate, and we had an average Sunday attendance of more than 7,000 fans in 2017.
TRADING CARD GIVEAWAYS
Fans have come to love and expect our baseball trading card series every season. A great giveaway promotional item for fans of all ages, we give away four sets of trading cards at four different games throughout the season. We divide the overall set into four smaller ones, and by doing so, we are able to push attendance at multiple games. Fans want to collect the complete set, so fans are encouraged to come to each of our giveaway games. It is one of our more popular baseball promotions and has been successful in helping boost attendance.
ANDY CANNIZARO BOBBLEHEAD
One of our most popular giveaway items was the Andy Cannizaro bobblehead for the newest head coach of the Diamond Dawgs. Coach Cannizaro was best known for his physique with the ability to bench press more than any of his players. The bobblehead featured a dumbbell in one arm, showing off a mini replica of Cannizaro’s biceps. We gave away bobbleheads to the first 1,000 fans which were very popular.
MILITARY APPRECIATION GAME
An annual tradition at Dudy Noble Field is a special tribute to our military. On this day each year, we invite out our ROTC and members from the Columbus Air Force Base to unfurl a massive American Flag across the outfield, while other members of the military stand with the teams on the line for the National Anthem. The live sung National Anthem is concluded with a military flyover, this year of which was three WWII planes. The program concludes with a medley of the military anthems, as veterans in the crowd were invited to stand up to be recognized.
At a Wednesday midweek game, we provided 500 pounds of crawfish for Mississippi State students. Set up in right field, students lined up and waited their turn to come enjoy some baseball and a crawfish boil. It created a great atmosphere and brought all the students together to cheer on the Diamond Dawgs, while yielding our largest midweek crowd of the season of 6,991 fans, including our largest student midweek crowd of the season, with 758 in attendance.
HARRY POTTER NIGHT
This midweek promotion of Harry Potter Night was based off the popular book and movie series. All of our home player headshots were transformed into Harry Potter-like images, with glasses, a lightning bolt scar,, and a Gryffindor scarf. Visitor headshots were given a Slytherin scarf. Fans were encouraged to “catch the golden snitch,” which was actually a marketing rep in a gold morph suit running around the venue – students who found him were awarded Hail State Rewards points via a mobile iBeacon. A special Snapchat filter was available for the stadium that said “I Caught the Golden Snitch” which fans, students especially, used when they took a picture with the roaming snitch.
Signs around the stadium were made to look like those from Harry Potter. “Have You Seen This Wizard?” were posted near the main entrances with headshots of the opposing team. Instead of Azkaban, the prison on the mugshot was “DUDEzKABAN” Prison. The sign also warned people to approach these “prisoners” with extreme caution and to not attempt to use magic against them. A second SnapChat filter was also created to make it appear as though the person was the one in the “Have You Seen This Wizard” signage.
Harry Potter movie clips were shown on the video board in situational moments throughout the game. Decrees, like those from the movie, were posted around the stadium. The entrance contained a Sorting Hat station for fans to be sorted into different houses of Hogwarts. In addition, with the help of our local coffeehouse, we gave away butterbeer to all fans curious enough to try it. The bathrooms in the video were marked with the signs of Myrtle, and fans who entered the ballpark came in through Platform 9 ¾.
Harry Potter fans, especially, loved the midweek promotion, as we drove our third largest midweek crowd of the season, with 6,346 fans attending.
TOP GUN NIGHT
In order to create excitement for a midweek game during baseball season, we added fun themes to help generate buzz and excitement. Like Harry Potter night, we latched onto a fan favorite cinema classic, Top Gun. While in the planning stages of this promotion, the thought process all started with one of our student-athletes always wearing an American flag bandana in the dugout. So, what’s more patriotic than Top Gun? We then realized that it was the 30th anniversary of the movie’s release. We downloaded the movie’s soundtrack to play during the game and also downloaded clips from the movie to play during situational moments. To add to that, our creative team went above and beyond and created an intro video entirely Top Gun-themed, as well as headshots of our current student-athletes to be displayed on the video board. The headshots included each student-athlete donning a bomber jacket as well as the classic aviator sunglasses. After realizing most of our team had nicknames for each other, similar to those of Maverick & Goose, we decided to print out each Top Gun-themed headshot, along with the student-athlete’s nickname, and post them around the concourse for fans to see. For a giveaway item, we had Top Gun stickers made that said “The Dude” for fans to wear during the game.
BULLY’S BIRTHDAY BASH
One of our biggest events hosted by Bully’s Kids Club is a birthday party for Bully. Bully’s Birthday Bash is held in the baseball complex. We invite all of our kids club members and their families to attend this party with cake, photo opportunities, games, and more to celebrate our beloved mascot Bully. This party is planned on the same day as a baseball game to promote attendance at the game as well. Last season, we hosted over 250 children and their families and hope to have an even better turnout for this year’s Bully’s Birthday Bash.
On February 18, 2017, we had a full day of two of our most popular sports, men’s basketball and baseball. In an effort to drive primarily basketball fans to baseball and vice versa, we offered a $20 combo ticket which gave admission to both games. This promotion yielded our largest opening weekend Saturday attendance in program history, a part of our largest opening weekend in program history, and our second largest crowd of the season overall – with a total attendance of 10,958 fans attending.
BAGLEY BEHIND THE NUMBERS
Presented by Bagley College of Engineering, Bagley Behind the Numbers educates fans about the statistics in baseball such as RBIs, batting averages, and saves, and how these statistics are calculated. This unique element highlights one of our new statistics that we incorporated on the video board, shows its location, and explains the formula for the calculation.
EMOJI HEADSHOTS FOR PITCHERS
With the addition of the largest videoboard in all of college baseball, we had the opportunity to be creative with our digital elements. Rather than using traditional headshots for our pitching staff, we created each player an emoji-style headshot to put on the videoboard next to their individual statistics. The emojis were made using a combination of a simple emoji making application and Photoshop. The application we used, “Emoji Me”, allows you to select various facial features to customize each emoji. The app, however, has its limitations so we added more distinguishable features using Photoshop.
YOUR EXTRA CLOSET “WHO’S THAT PUP”?
Sponsored by local storage company Your Extra Closet, we showed a picture of one of our baseball players as a child and gave our fans some time to yell their guesses of which player it was. Fans and players got in on the entertainment seeing a childhood photo of their favorite player or their friend and teammate. This was a great way for our fans to feel even more connected to our student-athletes on a more personal level.
FACULTY GUEST COACH
For every home game, our marketing staff invited an influential professor or other faculty member to be recognized as the guest coach. They were invited to watch pregame from the field, meet the team and coaches, stand with the team for the national anthem, and watch the first inning from the dugout. This was a simple way to show our appreciation for all that faculty do to help Mississippi State University.
SEASON TICKET HOLDERS OF THE WEEKEND
We would not be able to do all the things that we do if it was not for our devoted baseball fans, and everything we do is to ensure that they have a great experience at a Mississippi State game. Mississippi State baseball is based on tradition with its rich history. Most of our season ticket holders have had their tickets for decades. We wanted to do something special for them to feel appreciated, so we chose one season ticket holder for each weekend series to be recognized. During pregame, the season ticket holders were escorted on the field to watch warm ups, speak to the players and coaches, and participate in the national anthem.
STATE TO THE SHOW POSTER AND VIDEO SERIES
Mississippi State has established itself as a successful baseball program with its rich history. We are proud of our current and former student-athletes. One thing we started this past season and plan on including this upcoming season as well is recognizing former Bulldogs who have continued to be successful in the big leagues. We showed highlights from their Mississippi State and MLB careers.
In addition to our in-game highlights of former Mississippi State players, we designed special “State to the Show” posters for our fans to collect as a recurring promotion throughout the season. These posters each feature one of our former players that is currently playing in the Major Leagues, and they are available for the first 1,000 fans in attendance at each Saturday game. The posters feature Adam Frazier (Pittsburgh Pirates), Jonathan Holder (New York Yankees), Mitch Moreland (Boston Red Sox), Hunter Renfroe (San Diego Padres), Kendall Graveman (Oakland Athletics), Chris Stratton (San Francisco Giants), Chad Girodo (Toronto Blue Jays), and Buck Showalter, a manager for the Baltimore Orioles. This series encourages our loyal fans to attend all Saturday games so they can pick up the complete collection.
15 SECOND BIOS
One of our popular videoboard elements was “15 Second Bios.” We gave each baseball player 15 seconds to introduce themselves to the fans however they would like. These were not scripted, so each player got to show their personality. Some talked about their favorite food, why The Bachelor is their favorite television show, or other random and unusual facts and/or talents. These short video elements helped our fans get to know our student-athletes on a more personal level while developing a higher level of player-fan engagement.
CHECKING UP ON THE PLAYERS
One of our most popular video board elements was Le Bonheur’s Children Hospital’s “Checking Up on the Players.” Patients of Le Bonheur asked questions to players from a kid’s perspective. Questions included, “How many times have you been out?,” “Who is the messiest player on the team?,” (to pitchers) “How hard can you throw? / Why don’t you throw harder?,” and “Can you bench press more than Coach Cannizaro?” These questions provided a platform for players to show their personality and get creative with their answers. Fans of all ages enjoyed this element.
PICK 10 FLEX PACK
This ticket option is an affordable plan with the flexibility to use 15 tickets to whichever home games a fan chooses, allowing fans to save up to 33% off regular ticket prices with a cost of only $99. Fans are able to use all tickets for one game, or split the 15 tickets across several games. Flex tickets are able to be redeemed online for general admission tickets to any home baseball game. For those fans that were interested in purchasing more than 15 tickets, they could order in multiples of 15. This was a great and affordable way to get fans to into the stands to support the Diamond Dawgs.
BASEBALL FAN DAY
Baseball Fan Day was held for it’s fourth consecutive year to help get fans excited about the upcoming 2018 baseball season. Welcoming over 1,000 fans to the Palmeiro Center, this year was a unique one, as fans were welcomed after a women’s basketball game. The event featured autograph opportunities by players and coaches, a fun-filled Lil’ Dudes area with baseball infused inflatables and games as photos with Bully and Jak. We partnered with our local on-campus bookstore to offer fans the ability to purchase baseball gear as well as fan-specific items. With the “New Dude” being under construction, select fans were able to purchase tours of the construction site and be one of the first to lay their eyes on the new stadium.
SEASON TICKET DELIVERY
Here at Mississippi State, baseball has a very large following and some of the longest standing traditions in the country. To help show our appreciation to our loyal fans, we took members of our baseball team to hand deliver their 2018 season tickets. We split the entire team into 6 different groups and spread out across the city of Starkville to hand deliver season tickets to 25 lucky households. From MSU Legends like Bailey Howell to unsuspecting families like Buffum’s, the MSU Diamond Dawgs showed their appreciation for the best fans in College Baseball.
COWBELL YELL AT DUDY NOBLE
After the continued success of Cowbell Yell for Football, in 2014 we instituted the first Cowbell Yell at Dudy Noble Field – A student “First-Pitch” event designed to strengthen student support for Bulldog Baseball. This is annually the largest student pep rally in all of college baseball, drawing more than 1,200 students this year.
This year, we were able to give students their first look at the new $60 million Dudy Noble Field project that will host its inaugural game on March 6th, 2017. The entire stadium project will be finish prior to opening day 2018. During this years event, students were able to enter through the centerfield wall and were seated behind home plate, in the turf from first base to third base. As always, this was the first time students and fans were able to view the brand new intro video. In addition to getting first looks at the stadium and videos, the students were introduced to new players and staff. This event also serves as the primary way for students to join “The Dudes” – The official student support program for Mississippi State Baseball.
NEW SEASON TICKET BOOKS
When it comes to season ticket distribution, we have always used sheets of tickets as they have always been the cheaper and easier method of ticketing. New this season, we have decided to switch to a sleek ticket booklet that lets us bind an entire season ticket into a single ticket sized mini book. This ticket booklet design gives us the flexibility to insert ad pages in the middle of the season and on the back of each booklet instead of putting an ad on a sheet that might get thrown away immediately when fans rip their tickets apart. Also, it gives the fan a much easier and manageable booklet already prebound so that they can bring the booklet to every game instead of ripping off tickets from a sheet as each game approaches.
ANDY CANNIZARO UNION VISIT
In an effort to promote the start of the 2018 season, Coach Andy Cannizaro took the student Union by storm during lunch. We entered the Union, and he jumped up on a table in the center, grabbed the mic and invited the students to come out to support the team throughout the new season. Following a standing ovation from the student crowd, Coach Cannizaro took photos with students, who had the chance to win a signed jersey for getting the most RTs on their photo.