Minor League Baseball’s branded merchandise is more popular than ever.
Recent figures from MiLB show that retail sales of licensed merchandise from the 160 teams that charge admission to their games reached $73.8 million in 2018. That’s up 4.2% from 2017 – and a new annual record.
“Our teams work hard to promote their brands and solidify MiLB identities in the conversation among the most enjoyed brands in professional sports,” said Brian Earle, MiLB’s head of licensing and consumer products. “To have their names and logos recognized and admired by fans locally, nationally and, in some cases, globally, speaks to the tremendous amount of effort and attention our teams dedicate to creating, building and promoting their brands.”
The sales figure release included a list of the top 25 Minor League teams with the biggest sales. The full Top 25 is at the bottom of this article. Twenty different Major League Baseball organizations are represented on it. The Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants each placed two of their MiLB affiliates in the Top 25.
Interestingly, the Durham Bulls, an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, is the only team to make the Top 25 every year since rankings began in 1993. Six teams, including the Durham Bulls, have made the Top 25 every year of their existence. They are the Columbia Fireflies (three years), Durham Bulls (26 years), El Paso Chihuahuas (five years), Lehigh Valley IronPigs (12 years), Sacramento River Cats (19 years) and Trenton Thunder (25 years).
Related to the rising sales is the fact that more than a few MiLB teams have a penchant for savvy marketing that often comes in the form of creative merchandise/promotional giveaways. From kooky promotions like bobbleheads that are an “ode to Tommy John surgery” and Seinfeld-inspired merchandise, to culturally inclusive temporary rebrands that celebrate Latino communities, MiLB teams market with imagination.