ST. LOUIS – Tens of thousands of St. Louis Cardinals fans will take home a one-of-a-kind mystery bobblehead Saturday, either of Albert Pujols or Yadier Molina from their unexpected pitching appearances last season.
The Pujols-Molina mystery collectible is the first of eight bobblehead giveaways at Busch Stadium this year. Bobbleheads are among the top promotions each year for baseball fans in St. Louis and beyond.
Some fans will wait several hours at the gate to score the special item. Others hope to build upon their collections of tens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands. Or maybe there are a select few who just want one of their favorite present or past player.
How do the bobbleheads get decided each season? It’s part of a long-term process that begins throughout the preceding baseball campaign.
“We’ve studied the bobbleheads all year long,” said Megan Eberhart, director of promotions for the St. Louis Cardinals. “Like the mystery pitching bobblehead, we thought of that as it was happening last year. We sit down at the end of the season and come up with a list of 50 ideas, and we have to narrow it down to our favorites. It’s a hard decision, but we hope our fans love the final product at the end.”
Sometimes the inspiration for bobblehead giveaways will come from a certain milestone. Paul Goldschmidt’s MVP award, Nolan Arenado’s cycle and Albert Pujols’ final hoorah made for relatively easy choices.
Other times, an opponent might make sense to bobble a certain player. For instance, Busch Stadium will give out a Roger Maris bobblehead when the Cardinals play the Yankees this season, the two teams of the former single-season home run leader.
“They sometimes write the story for us,” said Eberhart.
Most importantly, the Cardinals marketing staff hopes the bobbleheads will hold sentimental value to each fan.
“We definitely want to make sure they’re quality items given to our fans so that they can use them time after time,” said Eberhart. “And they remember when they see a great bobblehead on a shelf, or a jersey hanging up in their closet, they remember the experience they had at the ballpark, who they came with, the game they saw, and they remember the magical memory.”
The team usually likes to consider at least one mystery or puzzle bobblehead each year to keep excitement high. Pujols and Molina were part of a “Cardinals Legends” puzzle bobblehead set given out at individual games along with Adam Wainwright near the end of last season. Six months later, the Cardinals honor two longtime favorites again, but with a twist.
“It’s Molina and Pujols doing their best Wainwright impression,” said Eberhart. “You don’t know which one you’ll get until you come through the gates.”
For a closer look at this year’s St. Louis Cardinals’ bobblehead and promotions lineup, click here.
It’s important to note, the stadium promotion bobbleheads will be given away to the first 25,000 ticketed fans. There are some theme nights that offer bobbleheads as well, but those require separate “theme item” ticket purchases. Most of the bobblehead giveaways are set for a weekend series.