“Bobbleheads don’t do well in San Diego”

It’s the same line I hear from every single Padres employee that has come through the doors in the past few seasons: “Bobbleheads don’t do well in San Diego.”

And it’s not like it’s worded even remotely different either. It’s verbatim. Word for word. Exactamundo. Twinsies. Well, you get the point. It’s as if upon their hiring they are forced to watch a movie that brainwashes everything that they previously thought was right. Brown = Evil. Bobbleheads=don’t do well in San Diego. I first heard that phrase uttered from an employee back in 2009 and have heard it more times than I can count since.

Word is spreading that there will be no bobblehead next year, but as we saw last year that could quickly change. And by quickly I mean 3 months into the season. I chatted with AJM last night about this topic. He wrote a great piece this morning about how his young daughter is a Chase Headley fan BECAUSE of the bobblehead. The AJM daughters are also very fond of Everth Cabrera (which they have a bobblehead of). Notice a trend here? They see that little bobblehead on their shelf every morning and start to get interested in that player.

This is kind of a .400 in ’94/RJ’s Fro co-posting. Perhaps I should drink a beer and film myself while writing, so I can make it a Padres and Pints post too? Nah, it’s too early for that.

Let’s take a look at all the bobblehead giveaways in Padres history and see how the attendance figures stack up. Keep in mind there are many things that factor into attendance (opponents, day of the week, month, pitching matchups, win/loss record, etc) but just for the sake of this post I won’t go that in depth.

The first bobblehead giveaway was in 2001.

#1 The Friar July 1st 2001 (Sunday)


It’s a pretty decent bobblehead but it was given away on a Sunday (the only one ever) and was just given away to only kids. It’s kind of hard to factor this in to the overall equation under those conditions. It drew 27,401 which is 1,959 under the season average of 29,360. It was the #33 ranked home game of the year.

In 2003 they gave away 3 different bobbleheads. 2003 was a magical year….for promotions. The team was god awful, but the giveaways were killer!

#2 Dave Winfield May 3rd, 2003 (Saturday)


Earlier this year on .400 in ’94 I had this to say about it:

“They had the Home uniform and the Away uniform, with both having him standing inside San Diego Stadium (AKA: Jack Murphy, AKA: Qualcomm). The likeness is pretty decent and the sideburns are amazing. The Home was the standard version given out and the Away version had a limited number of 3,100 (Winfield was #31). As an added bonus, 31 of the bobbleheads were autographed by Dave Winfield himself.”

Attendance that night was 29,725 which was 4,662 above the season average of 25,063. It also ranked in at the #18 most attended home game that year. Pretty solid.

#3 Randy Jones May 31st, 2003 (Saturday)


Earlier this year:

“The Home was once again the standard version, and the Away had a limited number of 3,500 (RJ was #35). There were also 35 autographed by Randy Jones given out at random. Same story as the Winfield one, awesome promotion all around.”

Attendance that night was 31,735 which was 6,672 above the season average of 25,063. It was the #14 most attended game that year. Another solid draw.

#4 The Chicken September 26th, 2003 (Friday)


Earlier this year:

“As a last minute add (not on the original promotional schedule), the Padres gave away a Chicken Bobblehead, er I mean body, on September 26th. I say that it is a bobble “body” because the Chicken’s whole body moves as opposed to just his head. It’s actually very fitting for a Chicken figure because it looks like he’s dancing. The likeness is spot on too. They gave it away to commemorate his triumphant return to the Q and the Padres even won the game.”

Attendance that night was 45,588 which was a staggering 20,525 above the season average of 25,063. It was the #6 most attended game that year. An amazing draw for a 96 loss team at that point. That is 3 solid and unique bobblehead ideas in 2003, that all drew really well.

#5 Jake Peavy August 27th, 2005 (Saturday)


What I said previously on the old .400 in ’94 site:

“It has a button on the back that once pushed makes Jake start singing a lovely rendition of the “Go Cubs Go” song……either that or the sound of an engine revving up, I really can’t remember.”

It’s an awful bobblehead. Bad idea. Bad execution. Just bad. It drew 32,585 which was 2,844 under the season average of 35,429. It was the #58 most attended game that year. The 63-65 Padres were facing the 51-78 Rockies. The starting pitching matchup consisted of two pitchers (Brian Lawrence and Sun-Woo Kim) with ERA’s creeping up on 5.00. The Rockies never draw well in San Diego. August doesn’t draw. There were so many things going against this giveaway it’s not even funny.

#6 Bruce Bochy, Khalil Greene and Jake Peavy August 18th 2006 (Friday)


What I said back then:

“I just shudder to think that the last 2 bobblehead giveaways were a tri-fecta of magnetized mini bobbleheads & a baseball player in a NASCAR car.”

Not as bad as the previous Peavy one, but the mini magenetic idea wasn’t a good one. It still drew 35,196 which was 2,359 over the season average of 32,837. It ranked #31 on the season and is the second Friday bobblehead giveaway ever.

#7 Adrian Gonzalez 2008 (Date Unknown)


I like to refer to this one as Rubber Ducky Adrian. His face looks like a duck and it’s made out of a plastic that is very similar to a rubber ducky. Oddly, this is the only one I don’t have a giveaway date on so if you know let me know in the comments.

In 2010 the Padres gave away 5 bobbleheads. The player selections were odd at the time, considering Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell were on the team still, but overall they are decent bobbleheads. This post is getting long so I’ll just give the attendance figures.

#8 David Eckstein April 17th, 2010 (Saturday)


This one drew 31,324 which is 5,006 over the season average of 26,318. It ranked #19 on the season.

#9 Chase Headley May 29th, 2010 (Saturday)


This one drew 25,956 which is 362 under the season average of 26,318. It ranked #37 on the season.

#10 Kyle Blanks June 19th, 2010 (Saturday)


This one drew 28,138 which is 1,820 over the season average of 26,318. It ranked #30 on the season.

#11 Clayton Richard July 31st, 2010 (Saturday)


This one drew 42,072 which is 15,754 over the season average of 26,318. It ranked #5 on the season.

#12 Everth Cabrera August 28th, 2010 (Saturday)


This one drew 37,424 which is 11,106 over the season average of 26,318. It ranked #12 on the season.

You push all the bobbleheads together and you get a cool background setting of Petco Park. It’s been done (better) before, but I like the idea they were shooting for.


After having 4 of the 5 bobbleheads draw over the season average in 2010 you’d think they would take notice, right? Instead they release the schedule with only 1 bobblehead and it wasn’t even a player. A mid-season addition to the promotional schedule would also finally give the fans their first Tony bobblehead. Not that one though.

#13 Bud Black May 7th, 2011 (Saturday)


This one drew 35,936 which is 9,479 over the season average of 26,457. It ranked #14 on the season.

#14 Tony Hawk August 19th, 2011 (Friday)


This one drew 26,065 which is 392 under the season average of 26,457. It ranked #35 on the season. This one was announced exactly 3 weeks before the giveaway. Cool idea and the bobblehead is pretty solid. A catch here is that only the first 5,000 fans received one of these so it’s hard to factor that in as well.

2012 was bobblehead-less. In 2013 there were rumblings that bobbleheads would return though. Who could it be? Would Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman or Jerry Coleman finally get their due? Nope. Chase Headley gets his second in 4 seasons. It also made my list of terrible moments in Padres promotions history earlier this year.

#15 Chase Headley April 13th, 2013 (Saturday)


This one drew 29,523 which is 2,774 over the season average of 26,749. It ranked #28 on the season.

So of the 15 bobbleheads given away at Padres games since 2001 only 4 have failed to draw the season average and 3 of the 4 had catches. But still, 11 of the 15 giveaways have gone over the season average. If you are reading this, Padres employees, I don’t want to hear that bobbleheads don’t do well in San Diego, because they do indeed do well. Even for sub-par bobbleheads (look at the Dodgers, Giants, A’s, hell any other team actually for better ones) the fans still come. It’s a travesty that 3 Padres legends and even Steve Garvey whose number 6 sits on the batters eye here, have NEVER had a bobblehead in the 12 seasons you have been giving them away. Quit making false excuses and make it happen in 2014.


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BOBBLEHEADS, BOBBLEHEADS, BOBBLEHEADS!!!  I Tweet. I book the Face. I even have plussed the Google once or twice.

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  • Change the Padres

    Great post. I still have the 2008 promotional schedule in front of me, and it lists exactly zero bobblehead giveaways. Here’s a web archive of it in March: http://web.archive.org/web/20080305224828/http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/schedule/promotions.jsp?c_id=sd&y=2008
    And a webarchive after updates in May: http://web.archive.org/web/20080525175012/http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/schedule/promotions.jsp?c_id=sd&y=2008

    2009 had the Adrian figurines, but that’s not the bobblehead.
    I also don’t see it in the 2007 promo schedule: http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20061031&content_id=1728662&vkey=pr_sd&fext=.jsp&c_id=sd

    • SDPads1

      It’s definitely 2008 because it says so on the base underneath. If I can recall correctly I think it was another mid-season addition.

  • I’m looking forward to Seth Smith Bobblehead Night next season, WITH puzzle piece base.

    • SDPads1

      It’ll look nice sitting next to my backwards swinging Chase Headley from last year.

  • Sublime

    My favorite is definitely the Chicken Bobble head. The only this is the one that I own shows the Padres logo upside down. Did anyone else receive one like that?

    • Sublime


    • SDPads1

      The Chicken one is fantastic. I’ve come across quite a few and have never seen an upside down logo one though.

  • sportwarrior

    There’s at least one giveaway missing here. I’m pretty sure there was a Kotsay/Nevin/someone giveaway on a Sunday in the early 2000s. All three were available, and I’m pretty sure it was for kids only. They were also offered at local Carl’s Jr’s as a charity purchase. I have the Kotsay bobble head sitting on my shelf….

    • SDPads1

      There was a Kotsay, Nevin, Hoffman & Klesko set. All of them were sold at Carls Jr and there is no record of them on the promotional schedule. I have them all though still 🙂

      • sportwarrior

        Interesting… I guess I didn’t remember that one correctly. I thought I bought the Kotsay bobble head at Carl’s after I couldn’t get one at the game. I’m probably just combining giveaways, though, since a lot of the cool ones those days were for kids and I was constantly trying to score whatever the giveaway was that day…

  • Sac Bunt Melvin

    Curious to know what defines a successful giveaway to the Padres. As AJM pointed out, planting a seed of fanhood with a bobblehead on a nightstand of a child (or adult) is invaluable. But aside from that, is the team looking for a particular increase in attendance above what would be expected for that date/matchup? Are they trying to recoup their costs? I’ll work on answers to these pressing questions.

    • SDPads1

      Good question. I should add that another line of the word for word “bobbleheads don’t do well in San Diego” statement is that “they don’t draw fans” which the figures prove differently for stand alone stats.

  • Bobbleheads I’m hoping for: Ted Williams, Jerry Coleman, a nod to either ’84 and/or ’98 teams

    • SDPads1

      I had Ted Williams and the ’84 homer Garv on my promotions list earlier this year. Maybe I’ll release the 2nd part soon. There were things that kept me from posting it originally.

  • Matt A.

    As Melvin has also pointed out, attendance is not the only metric that should be looked at here. How many fans just bought tickets only for the bobblehead then left? How many brought in their own food/drink and didn’t contribute any extra revenue from concessions?

    Other factors: was the attendance skewed more by the day of the week, the calendar month, the weather, the proximity to another big giveaway, the team’s rank in the standings,or the quality of the opponent?

    And what added costs come with a giveaway of this scope? Does the sponsor pay for all or just some of the product? Design, manufacturing, shipping, additional staff to hand them out, that all adds up. If the team has to cover a portion of that, another couple hundred fans above the average ain’t covering it.

    • SDPads1

      Rumor has it the sponsor cover all the costs AND they aren’t even allowed to promote it per MLB rules.

  • GoldenBoy

    You can’t go wrong with bobbleheads. Even if the team loses a little bit of money, bobbleheads offer the front office extra credibility with the public, plus some solid promotion of their franchise product. It’s a Win Win.

    There are many bobbleheads that need to be produced, but a Mark Grant one is first on my list!

  • Clay Marston

    Excellent report, very detailed … Thanks … However, always take photographs against same blank matte backdrop as whatever that odd thing that looks like some space age mouse / speaker ( ? ) is too close in many of your photos and distracting from what you are trying to depict.

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