The Inland Empire 66ers, a minor league affiliate of the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles, have a dance team. But they do more than just dance. Minor league baseball is a family friendly environment and there are a lot of promotions and special events to get the crowd out to the ball park. And the Inland Empire 66ers Dance Team is front and center in creating a fun filled night of entertainment.
So, what is a typical game day for an Inland Empire 66ers dancer? Well, it’s a long one. The girls arrive to the park two and half hours before the first pitch to do their hair and make up. On this night, they had professional make up artists in the house to assist with the process. And its not too shabby…to have your hair and make up done in a luxury suite, instead of the ladies room.
I was told it takes about an hour for the girls to get ready and in my experience, that is time well spent. The girls have to look good because they will spend a good portion of their game day meeting and greeting the fans. But there was a little down time as the make up artists went from girl to girl, so I snapped a few photos of the girls who were done.
As 6:00 p.m. approached, the girls were instructed to head on down to the main gate. There was a giveaway on this night, 1,500 cool looking hats embroidered with all the Angels logos from the past. On a promo night, fans line up a couple hours before the gates open to ensure they get their giveaway. As the girls took the elevator down to the main level, I snapped a few photos…something about the elevator that brings out the goofy in the girls.
When the gates opened, fans entered the ball park in an orderly fashion and the girls greeted them and handed out hats and game day magazines to the lucky few.
And to ensure that the giveaway was orderly Kevin Shaw, Vice President of Marketing, worked the gate as the last of the 1,500 hats were distributed.
These giveaways are serious business. I have a friend who collects bobbleheads and there’s a whole network of collectors who live to acquire these giveaways and promotional items. So here’s my tip for you collectors…go to a minor league baseball game. They do a lot of promotional giveaways and its cheaper to go to a minor league game than an MLB game. And the baseball is better…at least when comparing these teams to the flailing Dodgers.
At 6:35 p.m., Amber Cash, the dance team manager, and her girls made their way to the field. On this day, Amber donned the uniform and would be performing with her girls. She was an Inland Empire 66ers Dance Team member three years ago.
After the girls stretched, there was a few minutes before the pregame festivities, so they posed for a few photographs.
And then it was time for the pregame performance, a short dance number in front of home plate.
After the pregame performance, the dance team lined up for player introductions. This was another opportunity to snap a few candid photos that let the girls personality show.
When the player introductions were completed, it was time for the national anthem. The girls lined up along the third base side and paid their respect to old glory.
Then it was off to the concourse, where the girls greeted fans and posed for photos. Meeting and greeting is an ongoing theme here and perhaps their primary responsibility as representatives of the organization.
And before the first inning was over, the girls retired to the luxury suite to change into the second uniforms. They weren’t scheduled to perform until the third inning, so the girls took a moment to eat dinner and retouch their makeup.
And the view from luxury suite is fantastic, best in the house.
But soon the rest time was over and the girls made their way to concourse for their third inning performance to the music of the Village People’s Y.M.C.A.
After the third inning performance, some of the girls left to visit the luxury suites and some went to the field to assist with the on field promotions. The remainder of the squad posed for photos and signed autographs.
With the arrival of the fifth inning, the girls took to the dug outs a second time and performed a choreographed dance routine.
No rest for the weary. After their 5th inning performance, the other half of the squad made the rounds to the luxury suites to greet the fans in attendance. As with any professional sports organization, taking care of your very best customers is mandatory and good business. This time, I made the journey up to the suites and took a few photos of the happy fans.
After the meet and greet with the luxury suite holders, it was time for the girls to make their way down to the concourse for their 7th inning stretch performance.
After the 7th inning stretch performance, the girls retired to the luxury suite to fresh up, snack and rehydrate.
Their last official duty of the night would be to hand out schedule cards as the fans left the ball park. So midway through the 8th inning the girls headed down to the lower level entrances. As we got into the elevator, more goofiness ensued and I snapped a few more photographs.
As the the fans left the ball park, many took photos with the girls or asked for autographs one last time.
After the game, the girls would discuss the day’s events with Byron Marquez, the Director of Business Relations and the man responsible for the 66ers Dance Team. They would go over any outstanding issues and review their performances. It was a long day, but a typical one for the dancers.
I can attest that being an Inland Empire 66ers dance team member is a lot of fun and there are some great perks. But it is also a lot of hard work and long days. It is a tremendous responsibility and one that is vital in making a minor league baseball game a fun filled and enjoyable experience.
Amongst the first to arrive and amongst the last to leave, this is a day in the life of an Inland Empire 66ers dance team member.
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I would like to thank Byron Marquez, Kevin Shaw, Amber, Kela and the Inland Empire 66ers organization for allowing me the access to cover their dance team. Thank you, I had a great time.