SBJ/October 18 - 24, 2004/SBJ In Depth

Kid-created idea hits the ballpark

Sometimes, you just invent your own promotional item.

Texas Rangers Chief Operating Officer Jeff Cogan was at home a year ago when his 9-year-old daughter, Kendall, put on a “newscast” for the family in their basement. She wanted to announce the Texas Rangers’ new promotion.

She frantically looked for a bobblehead doll but couldn’t find a complete one. She found the head of one and the base from another, then ran to the garage and retrieved a softball. The ball became the belly of a Frankenstein doll.

A 9-year-old dreamed up the idea for the "ballblehead."

Kendall announced: “It’s … BALL-ble-head night!”

Cogan told the story to his amused colleagues a few days later at work — and suddenly it was gaining momentum as a real promotional idea. Cogan called supplier Bensussen Deutsch & Associates and had one manufactured on spec. “They got the price to effectively that of a normal bobblehead, in the low two-dollar range,” Cogan said.

A Saturday night in late August became Hank Blalock Ballblehead Night, presented by Dr Pepper Bottling of Texas. The ball “belly” of the doll wobbled. The game drew a slightly better-than-average crowd for a Saturday night in Arlington — 41,587, against the Baltimore Orioles. Cogan said the team doesn’t view giveaways as inducements to buy tickets; they’re rewards, and the team gives them out at high-attendance games throughout the year.

Cogan said he’s not sure if he’s going to pursue a patent on the concept. What he’s sure of is that a team doesn’t need to depend on the typical stock of items, or on its promotions company’s imagination. Novel ideas can come from almost anywhere.

“I took note of the idea and told Kendall what a great idea it was,” Cogan said. “Dads are supposed to give their kids positive reinforcement.”

— Noah Liberman

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Baseball, In-Depth, Texas Rangers

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