Friday, January 7, 2011

MiLB LIFE: Being the 'K-Man'

The whole concept of the K-Man is hilarious- well, unless it’s you. It’s a tradition that gets the crowd involved with a vested interest, and it’s a smart way to boost concession sales- not to mention it initiates some good-natured ribbing among teammates. The pitcher is battling on behalf of the collective stomach and wallet of the home crowd. The batter is working to maintain his pride and prevent the long walk back to the dugout, bombarded with mock cheers and demeaning Thank-You’s. Strikeouts are never fun- but there are certain ballparks where striking out is just plain embarrassing.

During pre-game warm-ups in particular opposing ballparks, I always keep an ear out for the announcement of the starting lineups- that’s usually when the bomb gets dropped. “Batting 5th for the Bloggers, Number 22, Center Fielder, Scotty Smalls!” Wait for it… “Folks, Smalls is tonight's ‘K-Man’- if he is to strike out during any of his at-bats, all beer will be sold for $1.00 for the rest of the inning. Be sure to make some noise!” Shit.

Sure the name and prize may change- I’ve heard ‘Fry Guy’ striking out for free French fries, ‘Beer Batter’ punching out for discounted brewskies, and one stadium even had a ‘Go-Nuts Hitter’ getting rung up for, you guessed it, free peanuts- but regardless of the incentive, the crowd wants it. They want it bad.

You try to flush it out of your mind, and you’re doing a pretty good job of it- but then you get to two strikes. The crowd that hasn't made a peep all night is now going crazy. In one pitch they went from comatose to fanatical- when did it suddenly become Game 7 of the World Series? You step out of the box having never known a free hot dog could mean so much to 5,000 people. It’s funny- you always try to avoid striking out, but it’s like now you’re really trying. Trying too hard, perhaps. Strike three! The place goes crazy, stadium employees start running around distributing the free prizes, and your walk back to the dugout is longer than ever.

Hey, you may be embarrassed, but to thousands of people, you’re a hero.


  1. Greensboro is the best. Waffle House sponsors the K-Man, if he K's, the entire ballpark gets coupons for a free waffle. Waffles and baseball? I know! But they talk it up, use the video board, and it works!!

  2. This is interesting. I never paid attention to this at any minor league park I have been to. This obviously really happens since you wrote on it and someone else commented on it. I will look out for it this year and be sure to join in on the obnoxious raucous granted the free offer is worth it. Then again, anything free is pretty much worth it, right?

  3. If i were the K man, the stadium would end up about 75% drunker by the end of the game