According to the Madison Mallards website, there are 50 days, 6 hours, 37 minutes and change left until the team's home opener? and counting. Literally. Call up the site for yourself and see how much time is left until summer officially starts for many local baseball fans on May 31. It might help your state of mind with the snow still piling up outside.
Based on the number of emails I've received from the Mallards over the last couple weeks, the team intends to use just about every second of that time to ramp up enthusiasm for the upcoming Northwoods League season.
"The Mallards have begun to release their 2007 tentative promotional schedule two promotions at a time every weekday," reads one release before announcing precisely the kind of oddball event for which the Mallards have become famous: "On Friday, July 20, hold onto something sturdy because former Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bear defensive lineman William 'The Fridge' Perry is coming to the 'Duck Pond!'"
The Mallards will also don football-type uniforms for the game.
According to Strategic Baseball Ventures [pdf], the Mallards averaged just over 6,000 fans per game in 2006, highest among all summer collegiate baseball teams in the country. The figure also ranks 32nd when thrown in with minor league teams at all levels in the country (just behind the St. Paul Saints of the American Association, but ahead of the Triple-A Portland Beavers).
Part of the reason for that lies not only in the promotions developed by the innovative Mallards front office, but also in a dedication to fielding a quality team. The Mallards P.R. machine is calling attention to that by checking in with the players already signed to the Madison roster as they compete for their college teams.
Bobby Hubbard, who is set to join the Mallards for a second summer, is hitting .322 for Furman and tallied eight hits, two home runs and five RBI in a three-game series vs. UNC-Greensboro over the weekend. You can follow his and the other Mallards' progress at mallardsbaseball.com. The daily promotions releases can be found there as well, along with an online ticket office.