That’s the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball. — Bill Veeck
From the ceremonial first pitch to the seventh-inning stretch, baseball is a game of traditions. And the partnership between America’s pastime and the Dairy Queen® brand is among the most enduring. Every spring, DQ® franchisees all over North America sponsor hundreds of youth baseball teams, from the Truro Dairy Queen Blizzards of Nova Scotia to the Dairy Queen Cardinals of Hampton, Fla. And any little-leaguer, even some major league players, will tell you that the only thing to do after a game, win or lose, is stop for a Dairy Queen treat on the way home.
I never played little-league baseball, but as a devoted Minnesota Twins fan, my favorite traditions include being at the Twins home opener each spring, playing “Twingo” (a bingo-style game of scoring plays) during games, Dome Dogs, Homer Hankies and, every year, arriving at the Metrodome extra early on DQ Cap Nights to make sure I get a hat before they run out:
Sure, I work at the Dairy Queen corporate headquarters, and could acquire Cap Night caps without actually attending the games. But that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as waiting in line at the gate, handing over my ticket in exchange for a brand new Twins hat, and then watching the game while working on the brim until it fits just right.
Starting on the bottom row above, the cap on the far left is from 1999, followed by the hats from 2000, 2001 and two from 2002. The upper rows represent every year after that, through 2008 at the very top.
Some I wear more than others, but just about every one has a story. The 2001 cap was my go-to hat for a while, until my puppy got hold of it:
Of course, these days my “puppy” has gray fur around her muzzle.
My 2004 cap was autographed by Lew Ford, who had a brief but entertaining career with the Twins a few years back:
If only his batting average had been as solid as his penmanship
This one from 2005 seems to be the one I wear most weekends:
Each Cap Night cap came with a coupon attached, which we redeemed for Blizzard® treats immediately after the game—unless it went into extra innings and ended too late for us to make it to our neighborhood DQ store before closing.
Opening day 2009 is just a few days away (six days, seven hours and 53 minutes as I write this, not that I’m counting…) and will be the last one at the Metrodome. The Twins play in a brand new outdoor stadium starting in 2010, and while some traditions probably won’t make the transition to Target Field, I’m sure we’ll come up with some new ones. Like dressing in layers and wearing insulated boots to the ballpark during the first and last weeks of the season.
Maybe Cap Night 2010 hats will be made of fur and have ear flaps. I think I’ll suggest that to our Marketing department.