Ah, minor league baseball…
It’s a late summer evening and the sun has yet to set, instead settling nicely behind the ballpark’s grandstands. You’ve had a hotdog, but you’re in the mood for something sweet as you watch the middle innings cruise on in front of you.
A donut, perhaps? Or maybe you’ve got a hankering for the summertime classic: ice cream. Ever heard of a fried banana? Friends of mine say they’re tasty.
If you were stuck with this difficult decision and you happened to be at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, Connecticut last Tuesday, the Yard Goats had a solution for you.
A delightfully ridiculous sandwich, the likes of which exist nowhere but in MiLB.
How did we get here? It began with an idea for a contest via social media: ask the fans of the Yard Goats to submit a ‘Goat Food’ suggestion for a new concession item, inspired by the team’s mascot and the local community.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 4, 2017
Darren Rovell, ESPN’s notable sports business commentator, who also happens that to be somewhat of a connoisseur when it comes to ballpark food, would then review the suggestions and decide which one he liked best.
Unique was good, edible was better.
Dana Feigenbaum, Hartford’s promotions manager, was the creative mind behind the contest and promotion. We caught up with her to see how it all went down.
“We wanted to do something to do with social media, and something to do with food,” Feigenbaum said. “Well, why not do both?”
With Rovell’s reach on social media buoyed by nearly two million followers, submissions came from far and wide. Most of them consisted of piling typical concession fare on top of one another. Weird, but not necessarily unique.
“When we were looking for a winner, we wanted to tie in Dunkin’ Donuts as well as the Yard Goats,” Feigenbaum said. “We also wanted it to be something crazy, not just something you can get at any other ballpark.”
— Hartford Yard Goats (@GoYardGoats) August 2, 2017
The team announced the promotion on August 2nd, giving fans two days to submit crazy concoctions via Twitter using the #goatfood.
On August 4th, Rovell chose Twitter user Owen Fisher’s creation as the winner. The idea? Sliced glazed donuts with ‘Rockies’ road ice cream, fried goat cheese, and a grilled banana.
The Yard Goats aptly named it the ‘Brass Bananas.’
Feigenbaum was happy to see a submission that hit the mark with the homage to the home park, the subtle nod to the Colorado Rockies (the Yard Goats MLB affiliate) and the local community.
This was more than just a fun promotion to sell some weird food — it was about deepening the bond between the city of Hartford and the Yard Goats. It hasn’t been the most seamless transition for the club or the city, as the opening of the stadium was delayed for more than a year due to budget overruns and other delays.
Now, though, things are rocking.
“It is awesome,” Feigenbaum said of evenings at the ballpark. “We sell out nearly every weekend. We get standing room only nearly every weekend. The fans have never lost faith in us. Our manager said he’s seen ballparks packed, but never an atmosphere like this.”
“It gets LOUD,” she added, with emphasis. “I’ll be going out to the city to get something to eat after the game, and everyone in downtown Hartford is in Yard Goats gear.”
If you missed Tuesday’s game, however, you (likely) missed your chance at ‘Brass Bananas.’ Not to worry, though, the DDBLT is a worthy substitute and is available all season long. Just in case you wanted two Dunkin’ donuts with your bacon, lettuce, and tomato.
Moving forward, the Yard Goats are in great hands. The city is embracing them and the team’s presence both in the community and on social media is inclusive and vibrant.
From the fans to the fare, there’s nothing quite like minor league baseball.