ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Minor League Baseball announced Monday that the Corpus Christi Hooks ranked among the Top 25 teams in licensed merchandise sales for 2016.
Fueled by sales of a new apparel line inspired by the Hooks' 1976 FauxBack concept, Corpus Christi surged back into the rankings following a one-year absence.
During a three-game series vs. Midland last July 28-30 at Whataburger Field, fans found their hometown team dressed in 1976-style uniforms, music played over the public address system dating from our nation's bicentennial year or earlier, PA announcer Layne Berman with a less-spirited approach to his calls, and video board graphics sporting a mid-70s look. It was all part of FauxBack weekend.
"The Bicentennial occurred 29 years before the Hooks and Whataburger Field came into being, so it was a little challenging to stage the park and execute three games as though they were played in the summer of '76," Director of Fan Engagement JD Davis said. "However, it was also great fun for our staff and, most importantly, the fans."
Six FauxBack t-shirt styles, including four for adults and two for children, authentic game jerseys, caps, and various novelty items were initially offered in conjunction with the promotion. Ultimately, the Hooks' ice blue togs were adopted by the club as an alternate uniform. In fact, the 2017 team continues to wear that set each Friday home date.
During the 2016-17 offseason, additional '76 FauxBack items were added, including an extensive inventory of polos and fishing shirts.
"Our primary look remains extremely popular, but It was remarkable to see the line of '76 FauxBack apparel take off both in-store at Hook, Line & Sinker and online at hooks.milbstore.com," Retail Operations Manager Rudy Soliz said. "It's such a great, clean look, and the colors really resonate with our fans."
"MiLB's merchandise ranking is one measurement of how successful FauxBack was and is, but what I'm most proud of is that our entire organization was truly engaged in the roll out and execution," Hooks VP of Sales and Marketing Andy Steavens said. "And, at the end of the day, our fans enjoyed a unique, memory-making experience."
In all, MiLB's $68.3 million 2016 retail merchandise sales total marks a 5.06 percent increase over 2015's $65.1 million, which had been the highest recorded since the licensing program began in 1992. The numbers are based on sales from January 1 - December 31, 2016, and include the 160 teams in domestic-based leagues that charge admission to games.
The Top 25 list includes (alphabetically, with Major League affiliate): Charlotte Knights (White Sox), Columbia Fireflies (Mets), Columbus Clippers (Indians), Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros), Dayton Dragons (Reds), Durham Bulls (Rays), El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres), Fresno Grizzlies (Astros), Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers), Indianapolis Indians (Pirates), Iowa Cubs, Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres), Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies), Louisville Bats (Reds), Nashville Sounds (Athletics), Oklahoma City Dodgers, Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals), Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox), Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants), Sacramento River Cats (Giants), Salt Lake Bees (Angels), South Bend Cubs, Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners), Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers), and Trenton Thunder (Yankees).
"Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to be some of the most creative and fun in all of professional sports and are valuable marketing tools for their clubs," Minor League Baseball Director of Licensing Sandie Hebert said. "Each year a few teams choose to create new identities and it's always interesting to see the fan reaction and how that translates into merchandise sales."