Giveaway Review: Livan Hernandez Bobblehead (Grade: A)

The first 25,000 fans in attendance at Monday's game received a Livan Hernandez bobblehead.
The first 25,000 fans in attendance at Monday’s game received a Livan Hernandez bobblehead.

Nats Gallery Blog will periodically review the 2015 Washington Nationals promotions and giveaways.  The promotional schedule was released the second week of February and it generated lots of publicity.  We still believe that there is still plenty to discuss and we will give the promotions and giveaways letter grades (A-F) based on three criteria–excitement, originality and satisfaction.

The Nationals are celebrating the tenth anniversary of baseball’s return to Washington with 10-year anniversary themed promotions all season long.  In addition to the monthly 10-Year Tuesday giveaways that fans can store in their Opening Day commemorative tins, the Nationals will also be distributing five different bobbleheads celebrating great moments in Nationals history.

The first 25,000 fans at Monday’s game against the Miami Marlins received a Livan Hernandez inaugural game bobblehead.  The bobblehead portrays Hernandez in a grey road uniform throwing the first pitch (a strike) as he did on April 4, 2005 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.  The Nationals lost that game to the Phillies 8-4, but Hernandez’s pitch was significant because it was the first pitch thrown by a pitcher for a Washington franchise in 33 years.  For the newer Nationals fans, the significance of Hernandez’s moment is explained on the box and it was explained on NatsHD during the game.

Bobbleheads are a very popular giveaway item at professional sporting events especially at Nationals Park.  The Nationals distributed seven bobbleheads and a Jayson Werth garden gnome in 2014.  Jordan Zimmermann, Wilson Ramos, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond and Tyler Clippard were all fashioned into bobbleheads and distributed to fans as giveaways last season.  Only one bobblehead was of an indivudal who is not on the current Nationals roster—William Howard Taft (a racing president).  In 2013, all three bobbleheads were current Nationals—Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper and Davey Johnson.  Stephen Strasburg, Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman got the bobblehead treatment in 2012.

Although the Nationals haven’t featured a non-roster player other than a mascot in recent memory, it actually is not too uncommon for former players to be honored with bobbleheads.  Bobbleheads of Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith and Randy Johnson will be distributed this season to fans in St. Louis and Arizona.

Other important players who made important contributions to their teams, but fell short of Hall of Fame careers, will be given the same honors as Hall of Famers this season.  The Milwaukee Brewers honored Rob Deer earlier this season with a bobblehead.  Deer is portrayed celebrating his famous game-tying home run which helped give the Brewers their twelfth straight win to start the 1987 series.  The Houston Astros, who are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Astrodome, distributed Jimmy Wynn bobbleheads at a game earlier in the season.  In many ways, it seems like the Hernandez bobblehead has as similar significance.  Hernandez was a journeyman who spent just a fraction of his career with the Nationals, but, nevertheless, is engrained in the team’s history.

The Brewers honored Rob Deer with a bobblehead earlier in the season.
The Brewers honored Rob Deer with a bobblehead earlier in the season.

Nationals fans had fun tweeting about the giveaway.  Fans enthusiastically tweeted pictures of their bobbleheads.  Other fans pleaded with friends at the games to save them one.  There were also more sentimental messages shared. One fan said that Hernandez helped get him “hooked on the team.”

LivanHernandez bobblehead: check. Messy funnel cake : check. Desibomb: check Curly W: check 😁😁😁 👏🏻 #Nationals @Nationals

— Erica Boswell (@EricaBoswell) May 5, 2015

I tell you, LivanHernandez was one of my favorite #Nats ever and helped me get hooked on the team. Call it the BartoloColon effect too…

— Mike Tedeschi(@miket3887) May 4, 2015

The Nationals made the giveaway even more exciting for some fans by having a special guest assist with the distribution.  Rookie relief pitcher Sammy Solis stood alongside the guest services representatives and handed bobbleheads out to entering fans.  One fan enthusiastically shared a picture of Solis.

Only one thing was missing from Monday’s promotion–Livan Hernandez.  Hernandez spent time with the Nationals as recently as 2014 when he accompanied the Nationals to spring training.  He did not really have an official title and instead told players that he would assist them with whatever they needed.  It would have been exciting to see Hernandez throw out the ceremonial first pitch (instead of the two federal employees), but it was still a terrific night.

Grade: A

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