The Oddities of Racial Marketing

After AP reported that the New York Mets had hosted a sellout crowd of 51,785 at "Hispanic Night" on Saturday, I had to wonder what else was on the calendar. Is it just me, or is it hard to imagine another, similar event for a different ethnic group?

I guess the Hispanic promotion makes sense given the demographics of the game, but why should it be so difficult to pull off a special night for the other varietals? It may be difficult to market something called "Black Night" or "African-American Night"; one captures white bishops and the other has a pandering tone to it. The alternative is to try it during a day game, but "Black Day" sounds like impending disaster.

Whites are obviously out, and Asians (I'm guessing) would be difficult to bring in large numbers to the ballpark, except insofar as they enjoy the novelty of the smattering of Asian players in the majors. To ballclubs, the best Asian promotion available is simply to schedule a game against (or sign) Ichiro.

When it comes down to it, "Hispanic" seems to be a rare case of a relatively non-politicized, broad ethnic grouping, exclusive without being offputting. Find another name that you can stick in there (that is, the "___ Night" promotion) that doesn't seem patronizing, outmoded, or just plain silly, and you win a free bobblehead doll.

A final note: the Mets' own website fails to mention the ethnic event on its calendar of promotions. The official promotion of the night? "Snausages Dog Day at the Park."

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