Springfield Thunderbirds to give away David Ortiz bobbleheads Saturday as part of 'T-Birds Spring Training' By Conor Ryan
The Springfield Thunderbirds have only existed as an AHL franchise for two seasons, but team president Nathan Costa can already reel off a number of memorable matchups held at the MassMutual Center during the team's short history.
A sold-out Opening Night. Pink in the Rink. Hometown Heroes Night. Guest appearances by Rene Rancourt and Ric Flair.
But through and through, "David Ortiz Night" was a landmark event for an organization looking to establish itself as one of the premier teams in the American Hockey League.
The event, in which the Thunderbirds welcomed Red Sox legend David Ortiz to a sold-out MassMutual Center, is the type of promotion that has stuck with both Costa and the rest of the Thunderbirds front office.
"It was a signature event for us," Costa said. "It was something that we really wanted to do and pull off when we found out that we had the chance to do it. More so, it was something to give back to the fans here in Springfield. ... David meant a lot to a lot of people in this market, so to be able to pull off a classy event where it wasn't just that normal minor-league promotion, we did it right for him and we put the spotlight on him and we gave people in this area that may not have had a chance to go out to Boston to thank him for his last season."
"David Ortiz Night" might have been held on Veterans Day, but the Thunderbirds aren't putting the event in the rearview.
With baseball season right around the corner, the Thunderbirds will hold "T-Birds Spring Training" Saturday during their game against the Providence Bruins at 7:05 p.m -- with the first 5,000 fans entering the MassMutual Center set to snag a one-of-a-kind David Ortiz bobblehead as part of the festivities.
Along with the bobblehead, which features Ortiz donning a Thunderbirds jersey, "T-Birds Spring Training" will also feature Red Sox mascot Wally The Green Monster making an appearance at the MassMutual Center.
"We're trying to make it into a carnival atmosphere and really put the spotlight on David's appearance earlier this year with a one-of-a-kind bobblehead that we'll give out to the first 5,000 people," Costa said. "But I think there's always a great energy in the building when we play Providence.
"Our sales are very brisk -- we don't have many tickets left at all. So we're hoping that we'll get to our sixth sellout. That's the main piece of it, but we're kind of branding it like "T-Birds Spring Training". We're going to have Wally at the event and with pitchers and catchers returning this week, it seemed to make sense to commemorate David's appearance from earlier this season with this game on Saturday."