Strange promotions and minor league baseball go together like peanut butter and jelly, but one Minnesota squad has officially taken it to the next level.
The St. Paul Saints, a relatively unheard of group hailing from, you guessed it, Saint Paul, MN, became national stars on Friday when news broke that they would temporarily be changing their name to the Mr. Paul Aints.
Why would a team randomly change their name like that? Because of a new, one-game sponsorship agreement with the Minnesota/American Atheists, of course.
As per this invitation posted by the Minnesota/American Atheists:
Our banners will hang in the stadium and we will rename the team the “Mr. Paul Aints.” The team will wear Mr. Paul Aints jerseys during the game, which will be auctioned off as a fundraiser for us. You may also order in advance a custom Mr. Paul Aints jersey with your name and a number on the back for $69 by contacting us at [masked]
The letter “S” will be covered up on the word “Saints” throughout the ballpark and we’ll have an information/greeting table at the main entrance. American Atheists president Dave Silverman will throw out the first ceremonial pitch of the game. After the game there will be a fireworks display.
The event is being advertised on the radio and on tens of thousands of pocket calendars as: “Join us for a night of unbelievable fun, sponsored by Minnesota Atheists and American Atheists.”
(via Uni Watch)
Saints general manager, Derek Sharrer, explained the promotion in a recent interview with Tyler Mason of Fox Sports.
"I think our message here and our brand of entertainment has always been one that's been inclusive," Sharrer said. "When we were approached by the Minnesota Atheists, we felt like it was within our nature to be inclusive and certainly work with them to provide them the opportunity to provide their message in the same way that we have worked with hundreds and hundreds of faith-based groups over our 20 years here in St. Paul."
But, did the atheist group really need to pick out a team called the Saints? Yes, apparently.
"I think the thing that we would emphasize is the team name itself is just that -- it's a team name," Sharrer said. "We didn't name the team the Saints to make any sort of religious statement. Certainly, that was part of what attracted the Minnesota Atheists, along with what they know about the Saints and the ability to promote a message."
"The one thing I can assure you is that it will be all in good fun. This isn't about mocking or ridiculing any one belief. This is about presenting the beliefs of this group of folks in a way that can be fun and entertaining."
Good fun. Right. Surely this won’t turn into a ridiculous, overblown political debate about the role of religion in society.