B E L L E V U E, Wash., Aug. 20, 2000 -- Mariners Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinezmay soon be immortalized as bobble-head dolls, retro souvenirs thatare showing up again at baseball stadiums around the country.
Alexander Global Promotions of Bellevue, which has producedbobble-head dolls of San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds, MinnesotaTwin Kirby Puckett and others, had $6.5 million in sales last year.
The dolls have oversized heads but otherwise look just like theactual players — down to Bonds’ signature earring and Puckett’s stubble.
“They’re fun,” said Malcolm Alexander, company co-founder and president. “They really tie in nicely with the nostalgia of babyboomers who remember getting these at games as a kid.”
Camping Out for Dolls
Alexander’s company launched the line in May with 35,000 Willie Maysdolls, made for the Giants in 1999. That day 35,054 fans — doublethe usual attendance at 3Com Park for that month — collected the goofyminiature Mays, prompting the Giants to order 20,000 Barry Bonddolls in June.
The company helped the Minnesota Twins this season by producingdolls resembling Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Tony Oliva and HarmonKillebrew.
The last-place team boosted attendance by an average of 7,000people on days it gave away the dolls. The day Puckett dolls wereavailable, fans camped overnight before the game so as not to missout.
And they’re catching on. About 11 of the 30 major-league teamshave bobble-head giveaways planned for this season or next.
The dolls cost teams about $5 each. Some Twins fans have bid upto $140 for the dolls on eBay, the Internet auction site.
Now the Seattle Mariners are getting in on the bobble-headmania.
Models of the Mariner Moose and Kazuhiro Sasaki have alreadybeen made for next year, and team officials are thinking aboutadding Buhner, Martinez and Alex Rodriguez, if he sticks around,said Gregg Greene, promotions director for the club.
“They’re hot,” Greene said.
Makers See a Bright Future
Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, a neighboring promotionscompany, is already competing with Alexander. They’ve developedbobble-head dolls for Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken and Texas RangerRafael Palmeiro.
The company is working on 10 to 15 new bobble-head promotionaldolls for next season, said Jay Deutsch, company president andchief executive.
Perhaps the dolls will become collectibles like pennants,posters and baseball cards.
“The things people can get for free at a game are often moreloved than something you spend $100 for,” said Mike Livingston,owner of U Trading Cards in Seattle. “They’re harder to get, andthey’re about a player people love.”