The start of baseball season is right around the corner which can mean only one thing: Minor league teams are announcing they’ll be changing their name to a regional food item for one game only to help sell novelty jerseys!
Last year, the Fresno Grizzlies became the first MiLB team to try out such a stunt, changing their name and uniforms to the Fresno Tacos in celebration of their annual Taco Truck Throwdown. The promotion was a coup for anyone interested in paying $36 for an officially licensed MiLB hat featuring a cartoon taco.
That event must have been a success because this year the Philadelphia Phillies-affiliated triple-A team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, have announced that on June 10 they’ll play as the Lehigh Valley Cheesesteaks as part of the squad’s “Salute to Philadelphia Night.” The accompanying one-off jerseys prominently display the nickname “Steaks” on the front and the caps feature half a Philly cheesesteak. All that’s missing is a case of Yuengling.
One detail is still to be decided though: Whether the cheesesteaks emblazoned on the players’ caps will be shown “wit” or “witout” – Philadelphia slang for whether or not the sandwich is topped with grilled onions. Fans can vote on that conundrum at LVCheesesteaks.com, but we decided to reach out to MiLB blogger and lifelong Phillies fan Benjamin Hill to get his expert opinion. “’Wit’ is not just the obvious choice, it's the only choice for the true cheesesteak aficionado,” he quipped. “If you prefer ‘Witout,’ then you may as well root for the Cowboys while you're at it." Unfortunately, there won’t be vote on choice of cheese, no matter how much some of us prefer a good slice of provolone over the standard Cheese Wiz.
Of course no uniform-swapping promotion is complete without the accompanying merch sales, and yes, you can already buy Steaks T-shirts, jerseys, hats and socks online in both the “wit” and “witout” designs. Though the gear isn’t cheap, all the money goes to a good cause: the owners of a minor league baseball team. In the world of sports team ownership, those guys are practically destitute.