|Bonnie is OK at the OneOK in Tulsa, OK.|
The Drillers also should win ESPYs for a few other reasons, highlighted by the distinction of featuring the wildest promotion thus far, wilder even than Cowboy Monkey whose routine is rehearsed. On this “Country Night” in Tulsa, which was sponsored by two radio stations and which encouraged Drillers’ staffers to dress in country “get-up,” a between-innings competition featured an armadillo race. Three fans wearing thick gloves tried to cajole the critters to run the length of an Oklahoma roadway’s width to win the race.
If you’ve ever seen the armadillo road-kill on and beside the highways in this region of the country, you’d understand why the road width would be a good distance goal. Two of the critters were named Speedy and ArmaDriller. As one of the armadillos started to veer and reverse course, the Drillers’ staff corralled it with fishing nets. I had hoped to see them try to rope it with little lassos!
|Ready, set, go....|
|The veering armadillos about to be netted.|
|Speedy prefers water for winning, not champagne.|
|The Braves hand-slap the Drillers starters.|
Before the game while I waited behind home plate, Justin Gorski, the Drillers Assistant Manager of Promotions, and I talked about the enthusiasm that had been generated by the open auditions that the team held for anthem performances. Last year, the first for the Drillers’ musical try-outs, more than 130 individuals and groups showed up, taking all day to compete for the few dozen dates available. This year, the team limited try-outs to the first 100 performers. Even so, individuals started lining up in the parking lot at 6:00 a.m., three hours before the competition for the weekend home dates began. On week nights, the Drillers usually play a recording of the anthem. I was fortunate that Mike Tarranto, the Director of Promotions, booked me for a Thursday night and that Justin made the effort to write the kind, inclusive introduction.
The only downer for the Drillers was that Salvador Perez, the catcher on the visiting Naturals from Northwest Arkansas, drilled a two-run homer while Tulsa was held to a three harmless hits, sort of like the straying armadillos.