One of the interesting (charming?) traditions at QuikTrip Park is the passing of the bucket. There is actually a hand-out for new fans explaining the practice, since many have never seen it done before.
When an AirHog batter hits a home run or an AirHog pitcher tosses a three-up, three-down inning, the ushers wander the park and collect donations for the batter or the pitcher, respectively. On a good night, a player could probably bump his salary, or at least cover his bar costs after the game. We know it’s important to the players, because if the press box forgets to announce it, they complain in the dugout. We’ve had to text the announcers or Tweet Ace Bacon to get it announced before. (This may be a bit crazy – we actually are asking that they come take money from us.)
The first season, the team only passed the bucket for home runs, but the pitchers must have complained, since after that, someone added 3-up, 3-down which is as close to a home run as you will find for pitchers.
I usually try to give $2 or $3 depending on the number of singles in my wallet, although I’ve given $5 or $10 for critical RBIs or pitching performances. Some of the players are still talking about the $20 somebody [my little brother] dropped in one night.
[A side benefit – you can have a load of singles in your wallet and your wife won’t ask where you’ve been.]
I was rather surprised that they didn’t pass the bucket in the Frontier League, since it’s basically the same level as the American Association – when one of the Lake Erie team hit a home run, I instinctively reached for my wallet, and then realized I was alone.
It’s not done in the affiliated minor leagues, which says the players are paid reasonably well. I guess.
That said, tt seems to me this is a great motivator for any baseball players, and it could be used on more levels of the sport.
Specifically, it occurred to me that if Derek Jeter hit a home run at Yankee Stadium, there would probably be 50,000 fans to pass a bucket around. (I looked it up just now and there are 52,325 seats.) So, figure a quarter of the people donate an average of $2 each – some of the people are cheering for the opposition, some are just cheap, some will ask if they take plastic. Still, that’s over thirteen thousand people donating to the home run buckets. That home run just made Mr. Jeter over twenty-six thousand dollars.
At that level of income, this could be quite a motivational tool. (Plus, I’d just like to see the usher tossing a roll of cash that big into the dugout for delivery!) It not only motivates the players, it could lower the salary cap. Owners? A plastic bucket costs $10. Figure you need 50 of them in Yankee Stadium. $500 bucks worth of buckets and training some ushers to wander around – which they are supposed to do anyway. Jeter hit 24 HRs in his best season, he hit 10 last year and he probably averages 15 or so. Wouldn’t you like to pay him $392K less because the fans are paying him directly? You could almost pay off your boat. Well, one of your boats.
Maybe the bucket needs to be called up to the big leagues.