Batter Up! Knock Your Promo Out Of The Park With Baseball-Themed Products
Baseball season is here, with all 30 teams playing in 15 games this Opening Day. With games scheduled through October, America’s pastime offers plenty of time and inspiration for memorable and meaningful promo projects, from team merch and fan giveaways to seasonal sponsored items.
Nostalgia is the name of the game when it comes to baseball-themed promotions, says Brandon Pecharich, an almost 20-year industry veteran and director of sales and marketing with Colorado-based supplier Branded Logistics.
“When you’re trying to theme something around baseball, you’re trying to bring the nostalgia of baseball,” he says. “Baseball is America’s sport, so don’t lose sight of it.”
The market for licensed baseball apparel is estimated at $850 million, with the New York Yankees the most valuable franchise this season. Interestingly, their iconic NY logo has its roots in a promotional product created for the NYPD by none other than famed jeweler Louis C. Tiffany:
Related: the Highlanders/Yankees borrowed their interlocking NY from this NYPD valor medal created by Louis C. Tiffany himself on Jan. 12, 1877. It first appeared on a baseball uniform in 1909 when the New York Highlanders added it to their cap and left sleeves. pic.twitter.com/JXlQvSs2lv— MLB Cathedrals (@MLBcathedrals) February 28, 2023
Game day giveaways and gear are always great promotional opportunities – but when it comes to non-game day promo, says Pecharich, look for products that evoke the feeling of being at the ballpark.
“There’s so many things that you can theme around baseball, but I always instantly go to sitting at the seat, enjoying the baseball game and trying to replicate that same feeling of sitting at the seat but at home or at the office,” he adds.
Concession Stand Favorites
As it turns out, watching live sports is good for you, so it makes sense to go for promo that gives those good vibes. Snacks are a great way to get in the spirit of the game – and get your client’s brands into fans’ hands.
“There is nothing better than a plastic helmet with a sports logo on it,” says Pecharich. “Even if it doesn’t have the team’s logo, if it’s the team’s colors and then branded with a company’s brand, there’s just something nostalgic about having a little plastic baseball helmet and eating ice cream out of it. Ice cream just tastes better at the ballpark out of one of those little plastic helmets.”
These Take Me Out to the Ball Game Mini Helmet kits offer two options for bringing the stadium experience to your recipients’ home plate. Choose between the concession snacks kit with salted peanuts, mini pretzels and Cracker Jack caramel popcorn, or the ice cream topping set with rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, crushed graham crackers, crushed Oreos and a wooden spoon.
Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, S3
For a Cracker Jack alternative, try Triple Mix Popcorn, a Chicago-style blend of lightly salted white popcorn, cheese corn and buttery gourmet caramel corn. The snack pack is made in the USA, and the price includes a four-color process imprint on a 2.75-inch round label. “When it’s a food item, it gives you that instant gratification of that product and that correlation to the sponsorship or the event that you’re at,” says Michael Williams, director of national accounts for New-York-based supplier AZX Sport, “and who doesn’t like getting a food gift?”
Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8
Team Jerseys, Tees And More
Houston-based distributorship Bullpen Marketing got its name because the founder is a huge Astros fan, says Katherine Smith, director of sales and marketing, and the firm has worked on several promo projects for team sponsors, including custom jerseys.
“One of our biggest clients is a sponsor for the Houston Astros, so we got to create custom baseball jerseys for them. We were able to tie it in with the Astros colors and even use the Astros logo on the sleeve,” she says. “That was a really cool project because they were completely custom, double twilled with the logo and the piping around the neck, and then those went out to their VIP clients and executives in the company.”
Get the classic baseball look and feel with a New Era Diamond Era Full-Button Jersey. This moisture-wicking, snag-resistant jersey is designed for on-field performance but also perfect for fans. Comfort features include a tag-free label and underarm gussets, and the dyed-to-match buttons are placed for ease of embellishment across the chest. Available in eight colors (royal shown) and adult sizes XS-4XL or youth XS-XL.
SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16
Don’t forget the packaging, Smith adds. For those custom jerseys, Bullpen ordered custom cut-and-sew velvet dust bags that were PMS matched to the Astros colors.
“Even the drawstring of the bag was custom, the imprint had one of the players’ signatures on it, and the jerseys slid inside,” she said, “so that was probably one of the coolest projects that we’ve gotten to work on.”
Promo opportunities abound for semi-pro and school sports, too, especially with apparel. Local businesses can get a lot of mileage out of sponsoring a team uniform, T-shirt or other game day giveaways.
“Apparel is such a strong marketing piece when it comes to athletics,” says Smith. “People go crazy for a free T-shirt. We have to make sure that it’s a cool design that people get excited about, but don’t underestimate how far a free T-shirt would go.”
The HD Cotton Unisex T-Shirt comes in 62 colors (burnt orange shown) and sizes S-6X. Made of sustainably sourced USA-grown cotton, the high-density fabric allows for exceptional print clarity. Most colors 100% cotton pre-shrunk jersey, but ash, heather and retro colors are a 50/50 poly/cotton blend.
Fruit of the Loom / PPAI 133342, S5
Brian O’Gara, marketing specialist for AZX Sport, agrees that the exclusivity of a custom design can make a seemingly simple promo item an all-star collectible.
“It doesn’t necessarily matter what it is,” he says, “but if it’s one of 500 only available on this particular date, it’s those kinds of drops that people love, that really get people excited and capture the attention and desire to get the next one.”
Different clothing styles can add value and variety to a promo program. Pecharich says he still loves wearing the classic two-tone raglan baseball shirt, which has surged in popularity in recent years thanks to a hit streaming TV show.
“It’s actually kind of crazy how hard those three-quarter sleeve baseball shirts are to find, but when you do find them, they’re really nice,” he says. “I know that they got super popular, like right at the end of Stranger Things last season because those were the shirts that they were wearing.”
Hit it out of the ballpark with a classic raglan baseball tee like this super-soft Unisex Tri-Blend 3/4 Raglan T-Shirt. Available in 19 color combos (vintage red/heather white shown) and sizes XS-3X. “If you’re having an internal team meeting, the team aspect of those T-shirts brings that unity,” adds Smith. “I’ve done them for clients, and we’ve done them for ourselves as well. Everybody gets that cute baseball T-shirt, and it brings that team aspect to it.”
Next Level Apparel / PPAI 272027, S3
Swag That Lasts Beyond The Seventh-Inning Stretch
With reusable co-branded promo items, clients benefit from both a fan’s emotional investment in the team and them seeing and displaying the sponsor’s logo over and over on a favorite piece. Here are a few other promo products you can pitch for baseball-themed projects:
Drinkware is always a great promo option, and for parents attending Little League games, staying hydrated is a must. This 30-oz. stainless steel Polar Camel Ringneck Tumbler features double-wall vacuum insulation with a clear lid and a narrower bottom to fit most standard vehicle cup holders. Available in stainless or 16 powder-coated colors (orange shown) with laser etching.
Branded Logistics / PPAI 650196, S1
This neoprene Reversible Can Cooler offers a 360-degree full-color imprint area so one item can display both home and away colors, as well as sponsor branding. “In the sports world, especially when it comes to the game giveaways, sponsorship is such a big thing, and making sure that you have that local presence, so a lot of our products have dual logo areas,” says Williams. “It’s not just about the team that’s playing, it’s about the sponsors that are bringing a lot of the funding for these promotional items that are coming to the plate.”
AZX Sport / PPAI 224494, S6
Giant foam fingers are a game day staple, but the novelty of these Classic #1 Finger Foam Minis will make any brand stand out. Various shapes and 10 colors of foam available. Made in the USA, they are small enough to fit on a pencil or fingertip – or use it as a drinking straw cover to keep bees and germs at bay.
Pepco Promotional / PPAI 112684, S6
With many stadiums enforcing bag restrictions, clear carry-alls make a useful giveaway or merch item. This Clear Drawstring Backpack is made of durable, clear vinyl with colorful polyester trim (18 colors available) and reinforced corners with metal grommets. The bag complies with NFL stadium security requirements as long as logo size does not exceed 4.5 inches by 3.4 inches.
Rivers Promo / PPAI 467928, S4
For a collectible, co-branded giveaway that recipients will keep handy, consider a Custom Shape PVC Keychain featuring a cutout of the team’s logo with the sponsor’s logo imprinted on the reverse.
AZX Sport / PPAI 224494, S6
No lineup of baseball-themed promo would be complete without a nod to the iconic baseball cap. This structured, flat-bill TGS1930X, made of polyester with bamboo charcoal attributes, features a wicking sweatband. Available in 59 color combos (white/royal/royal shown) and sizes XS-XXL.
Outdoor Cap / PPAI 213485, S10
Roughly half of baseball fans are female, so a cap designed specifically for women, like the Infinity Her Cassie Women’s Pigment Dyed Fashion Undervisor Cap, could be a home run. Available in 15 color combinations (olive/camo shown), the 100% cotton, pigment-dyed twill cap features a makeup-resistant, breathable, wicking sweatband and concealed ponytail opening on the rear seam. “What I love about it is it’s very subtle. It’s just right in the seam, along with the stitching, so if you don’t want to use it for a ponytail, you don’t have to,” says Smith. “I love that they thought through all those details.”
S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12