Foul ball!

When I was a kid and used to go to Red Sox games . . . (I know, I just lost all my NY readers, to whom I say . . . bite me!  How many more World Series rings do you want?) . . .  ok, back on track, when I was a kid and used to go to Red Sox games, one of my hopes and dreams was to catch a foul ball.  We used to bring baseball gloves to the game just in case!

Oh, the elusive foul ball!  Would my seats be close enough to get one?  Or forget a foul, what if I actually caught a home run!

All of these memories came a flyin’ back the other night when I watched the Sox get clobbered by the Yankees . . . and I watched the crowd go nuts when a couple of balls went into the cheap seats.  (And the folks that walked away with those round pieces of leather probably have them displayed on a mantle somewhere and are telling all their friends about their big catch.)

What is it about the foul?  It’s rare.  It’s a piece of the big time.  And there’s a bit of a game in getting one (you ever catch a ball coming at your face that fast?).

Hopefully, you don’t have flying tap shoes or runaway top hats in your shows, but I did wonder if there was a way for some shows/theaters to give their audience a similar feeling about a literal “takeaway.”

Sure, we have Playbills . . . but everyone gets those, like matchbooks at restaurants.  Is there something more rare, which would make some audience member feel more special?

At Godspell, we had “Bless The Lord” beads which were tossed into the audience each night.  We also stocked our guitarist with Godspell branded guitar picks to hand out to the folks nearby.

It could be a prop or two handed out at the stage door, or a mystery item handed out at merch, or the conductor’s baton handed to the person in the front row at the end of the curtain call (ooh, that sounds fun, celebratory, and not-intrusive on the actual production).

This concept can be applied a hundred different ways, in whatever suits your specific show or theater . . . but it’s guaranteed to make a few audience members feel special.  And when people feel special, they like to tell people they’re special.

Which means your foul ball just hit a word of mouth home run.


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  • peg says:

    We collected (over 20 times at Godspell) the beads, the spinner (the lily of the field), the newspaper “head”, a $100 bill (oh, Telly!), the father’s “estate” and enough confetti that we still come across it in our house, our shoes, our purses and it never fails to make us smile (and be a little sad that it’s over). I also have a rose petal from Follies that I cherish, a heroin bag from American Idiot(!)along with several “Love Happened Here” flyers. It’s a different feeling than buying a souvenir and so much more meaningful. Thank you for all you do!

  • From seeing “Sleep No More” three times, twice in Boston and once in New York, I have (and cherish) the “selection” cards and a religious medal mysteriously pressed into my hand during an encounter with Malcolm. And I talk about the show, and the mementos, all the time. This is a great observation, Ken.

  • I’m actually out on tour right now as the PSM of Tap Dogs and our guys dance so hard that the routinely lose their tap toes and they fly downstage. I occasionally get audience members hanging out at the edge of the stage after the show asking if they can get the taps. They’re worn out, so I happily give them and people get really excited about it. It’s not done on purpose, but it’s a fun little extra for the times that it happens.

  • Jim Cressman says:

    I caught a rose at Chicago. It takes the place of misletoe in my hallway entrance.

  • Margie says:

    You are so right — as usual — but you must BRAND the giveaway. Beads for Godspell were great — but there should have been a little tag with GODSPELL attached and the URL. That way, all the friends they show it to know where to find the show. That was what was so great about Miss Abigail — perfect branding, PLUS a personalized letter!

  • I took my 17 year old son and 14 year old daughter to a Yankees game. In between innings, Jeter pointed to my daughter and threw her the ball. Just as she was about to catch it a big guy wearing a Cleveland Indians jersey snatched out of her glove. I went berserk! I was 15 rows back screaming “Give it to the girl” And got the whole crowd shouting him– but he did not give her the goods

    NExt day we were walking through mid town and there was guy sitting on a bench who said to me “give it to the girl”. He was a Yankee fan in the stands who saw the whole thing the night before and agreed the Indians fan committed a foul.


  • R.J. Lowe says:

    I absolutely concur!!! My most cherished theater memoribilia are the pieces of June’s letter Patti LuPone tore up and threw into the front row and the apple I was handed by one of the Garden of Eden girls frm GYPSY, the ping pong ball from PRISCILLA (ewww) that is actually marked with the show’s logo, various confetti from MANY different shows, small pieces of costumes from a couple different shows including beads from LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, the glowsticks and the pieces of popcorn I got from Melpomene during XANADU (LOVED the onstage seating for that show), and the two roses from CHICAGO – both thrown specifically to me (for different reasons on seperate occasions) from Nancy Hess and Marilu Henner. I LOVE getting onstage momntos so much that when I saw CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and did NOT get one of the checks that floateddown from above I was actually upset. (heehee) Much as I love my Playbills and souvenir programs these things mean SO much more to me! Hoping to get something fun from NEWSIES later this month in the first row. I’m sitting too far away to hope for anything from DROOD though. 🙁

  • Laura K says:

    The peasant of NY in Spamalot not only credited (surprised) an audience member with a statue, they came onstage for a cast photo. A great gift and a a choice from only 4 seats!

  • MattChow says:

    The first show I saw on Broadway was Chicago. We got the student rush seats and sat in the front row, and at the end of the show Karen Ziemba dropped one of those fake roses that they throw into the audience at the end of the Hot Honey Rag. I kept that cheap fake flower for years, toting it around from one college apartment to the next. That flower was a great capper to a terrific evening at the theatre.

  • Diane says:

    Ken, you are the king of “takeaways”. Never left any of your shows without some little momento to remind me of the fun I had being there. But today’s blog really reminded me of your “Altar Boyz”. First show I ever went to with some major “takeaways” & well you know when you visit a show often (hee hee) you’re going to end up with a good amount of goodies to decorate your home & office. I have Abe’s yarmulkes from each year the show ran except for one (darn it), a couple of Luke’s hats, piece of sheet music Matthew was writing his song on, & so much more from the Altarholic events & the big “estate sale” during the final weekend. So I’ll always remember the show & the good times it brought whenever I see my “takeaways”. So looking forward to your next show(s) to see what “takeaways” are in store. Oh, & I have a foul ball from a YANKEE (who are slaughtering the Red Sox as I write this) game–a gift from a friend who caught it & gave it to me while I was in the hospital recovering from back surgery.

  • Howard says:

    First, Ken, thank you to you and your Sox for lifting the Yanks up to clinch the AL East tonight. Now, to your point, my kids had a blast gathering up the newspapers after the first act finale of Newsies. Back on the baseball front, my kids LOVE shagging foul balls, and batting practice balls. I think you are definitely onto something. Now, when shall you and I work on a musical about the Yanks/Sox rivalry. (Can’t be called Damn Yankees, I suppose).

  • Frayne says:

    They are magical things, those accidental, unexpected souvenirs. Often, paper props can not be re-used, but they are extra special treasures to someone getting an impromptu backstage tour. Or, when I’d tour folks around a “Sound of Music” set a while back, kids would be so happy to find bits of plastic edelweiss on the floor!

    On a different note, though, about the picture you used for this article, I’m not so sure I’m impressed with the woman holding a small baby throwing herself into a melee to catch a baseball. Shouldn’t she have been shielding her child from harm instead of potentially throwing herself off-balance for the sake of a stupid souvenir? Strange priorities, lady!

  • Avital says:

    I’ve caught a foul ball in a Broadway theatre… literally! The ping pong balls from Priscilla! Also confetti, rose petals from Follies and fliers from Hair that all went straight into my scrapbook. This of course is nothing compared to a friend on mine who caught pieces of fake fruit, a belt and a towel from various productions I do not remember the names of. I think it’s a great idea! After all, a show is an attraction (especially in New York, where tickets are pricey), and though you can’t take pictures and say “Look, I was there,” you do have something to take with you.

  • Jim says:

    Kristin Chenoweth threw a rose to me during the limited run of Apple Tree. My wife still calls her “your girlfriend, Kristin Chenoweth” whenever she sees her on TV.

  • Shannon D. says:

    I love, love, love “give aways”
    Million Dollar Quartet had “Elvis” give away his scarf during the “jam session” every night… until he just kept giving it to the same person after awhile…

    But the worse thing was when I saw a woman just hand it to someone else next to her… I mean WHY are you there in the FRONT ROW if you don’t want to be there, and be a little excited that Elvis gave you his scarf?!
    (and for the record, my friend was lucky enough to be the receipiant, however, how do you sit in the front row and not even crack a smile during the ENTIRE show!)

  • Joe Schulte says:

    When my wife and I attended the original production of I Do, I Do Mary Martin, at the end of the wedding scene,threw her bouquet into the audience. We were sitting in center orchesta, row D. I caught the bouquet gave it to my wife. We left the theater and walked back to our hotel. My wife was 7 months pregnant at the time. It was interesting.The flowers are dried up now, but the holder for the flowers is in box in the basement.

  • A Contrarian says:

    Chita Rivera gave Dad a kiss and all I got was a lousy autographed program. Outside the stage door after her last Broadway performance in Chicago. Too bad there wasn’t an iPhone back then but it’s still burned into my memory.

    I have a few megabucks thrown into my lap during a performance of Wise Guys/Gold/Strike it Rich/Bounce/Road Show…

  • Mark says:

    My now 17 year-old son still has a long string of crepe paper that was shot into the orchestra from the giant can at the end of HAIRSPRAY. I believe he also has the box of milk duds he snagged at a production of THE 25th ANNUAL SPELLING BEE. He still loves these items every bit as much as the signed programs he earned at the stage door.

  • Jim Brown says:

    Clever idea. What a fantastic and relatively inexpensive way to generate buzz.

  • Scott Steinberg says:

    Ken – Bryna still has a piece of pretzel and a playing card that fell into our laps when we saw The Odd Couple with NL and MB. You are correct, people like to receive a keepsake from an event.

    All the best.


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