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Caps and bobbleheads topped the list of items most frequently given to fans by MLB clubs for the second straight season, according to a SportsBusiness Daily/Journal analysis of teams' promotional efforts. According to the promotional schedules for all 30 MLB clubs this past regular season, teams combined for 719 giveaway dates, up 16% over '09 and up 25% compared with '08. Along with free T-shirts, which ranked No. 3 on the list, caps and bobbleheads have been the most popular giveaways since SportsBusiness Daily/Journal first started tracking MLB teams' game-day promotions and handouts in '02. But while the items at the top of the rankings have gone unchanged, the timing of and reason for the giveaways has shifted for many MLB clubs. According to team executives, it was about a decade ago when MLB clubs began to move away from items such as bottle openers and pencils as giveaways to what they call "high perceived value" gifts, such as bobbleheads. "Promotions are as much a part of baseball as hot dogs and Cracker Jacks," said Twins VP/Marketing Patrick Klinger. "We could have cut back this year, knowing we were going to draw well in the new ballpark [Target Field], but it has become an important part of our team's culture." This past season, 66 of the 80 bobblehead nights across MLB (or 82.5%) were held on weekends, double the percentage of just five seasons ago. "Do you want to pack the house and have that fan experience, that buzz, of a sellout?" said Bensussen Deutsch & Associates CEO and co-Founder Jay Deutsch, whose company produced more than 1 million MLB-licensed bobbleheads that were given away at ballparks this season. Deutsch: "You may already have 40,000 coming out on a Saturday night game and get a 'lift' of five or six thousand. And that whole connection gets extended long after they've left the game."MOST-FREQUENT '10 MLB REGULAR-SEASON
GIVEAWAYS AND PROMOTIONSRANKCATEGORY# TEAMSDATES1Caps27872Bobbleheads25803T-Shirts22724Posters12475Magnetic schedules28396Toys16377Backpacks/bags20348Jerseys17309Retail coupons82810Cups/mugs142311Photos122012tLunch boxes/school supplies131812tFigurines111814Calendars121615Blankets121416Rally items61217tHelmets/gloves101117tBanners/pennants81117tBats/balls811