You need creativity to work in the front office of a minor league sports team. "You can throw anything at the wall and sometimes people say 'No we're not doing that," said Ryan Holt, broadcaster for the Bakersfield Condors. "Sometimes people say 'That's awesome!' and you'd run with it."
This week this Condors released the schedule for the 2017-18 season, the team's 20th year in Bakersfield. While the team prepares to celebrate 20 years of history, we thought we'd look back at the team's memorable moments.
From giving away toilet paper with the Fresno Falcons logo on it, to plungers with the Stockton Thunder's logo on "the business end," the Condors front office has never been afraid to push the envelope.
Through 20 years the team has had plenty of unique specialty jerseys. Shirts featuring Lord of the Rings, Seinfeld, Michael Jackson (where the players wore one white glove) and Abraham Lincoln (one that was bought by Keith Olbermann) are just a few that have been worn throughout the years.
Through those years, the front office has had the same mindset. "There's no such thing as a bad idea," said the Condors vice president of communications, Kevin Bartl. Even ideas like "Guaranteed fight night" where the team said if there wasn't a brawl fans would get a free ticket to another game (the ECHL eventually stepped in and axed the idea).
In 2011 it was Charlie Sheen night where fans could bring in a clean drug test and get in free. Sticks with the troubled movie stars face were handed out before the game and "Tiger Blood" snow cones were sold in concessions.
2012 saw a move that garnered international attention when the team offer Justin Bieber a contract to play hockey on the team. "We were getting phone calls from radio stations in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Toronto and they're like 'You did what?!" said Bartl. "I'm like 'Yeah he's probably not coming but we offered!"
Then there's the classic moments on the ice. In 2008 Marty Raymond had one of the most classic head coaching meltdowns when he argued that an opposing goal should have been disallowed. After throwing his clip board and every stick he could find, he placed a water cooler on the bench and kicked it onto the ice.
But without question the most classic moment came when a live condor got loose during the singing of the national anthem.
A video Holt says still gets hundreds of thousands of views every year.
Finally there's the product on the ice. Moving from the WCHL to the ECHL in 2003, the front office remembers the 2014 playoff run as some of the most exciting hockey played in Bakersfield.
Later that year they received the biggest endorsement of the team's growth when the Oilers purchased the Condors and moved the team to the American Hockey League.
From Connor McDavid rehabbing with the team for a week to Wayne Gretzky coming out for the 2017 Outdoor Classic there have already been a number of classic moments.
The team plans to unveil brackets throughout the year like March Madness where fans can vote for favorite promos or specialty jerseys.
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