Shaky Beginnings: A Brief History of the Bobblehead

28. February 2013 12:38 by Clayton Smith in   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments ()

Bobblehead dolls have become such an ingrained part of sports culture, especially baseball, that it's almost unusual if teams don't have at least one giveaway night throughout a given season. But even though the popular collectible toys seem to be everywhere today, that was not always the case. In fact, it wasn't all that long ago that bobbleheads were somewhat of a rarity. 

While bobbleheads have exploded in popularity mostly in the last two decades, they have a history that dates back farther than you might think. Most experts agree that the earliest reference to the collectibles was in the 1842 story "The Overcoat," written by Nikolai Gogol, and soon after the items began springing up in Germany. Though they can trace their roots back to the 19th century, it wasn't until the 1920s that bobbleheads started to enter the sports world, when the New York Knicks released one for a player on the team, thus kicking off the longstanding relationship between bobbleheads and athletics. 

By the time the 1960s and 70s rolled around, bobbleheads had evolved considerably. They had spread into baseball, where they exploded in popularity, and thanks to new construction methods, they were easier to make than ever. By the middle of the 70s, people were snatching up bobbleheads of everyone from their favorite athletes to the most beloved cartoon characters. 

After the surge in popularity, bobbleheads seemed to fall out of favor in the 1980s at a time when the likes of Wade Boggs, George Brett, and Robin Yount were capturing the attention of baseball fans across the country. Even though they went away for several years, bobbleheads came back with a vengeance in the 1990s thanks in large part to the San Francisco Giants. In 1999, the Giants paid tribute to one of the all time greats - Willie Mays - with a free give away of 35,000 Mays bobbleheads. Though it might seem like a small blip in baseball history, the giveaway started the tradition that stands today.

Bobbleheads have certainly come a long way over the last 150-plus years. What were once rare collectibles have made their way to office desks around the world. And if The Office has made anything abundantly clear, it's the fact that you can get a bobblehead of pretty much anyone, from your favorite athlete to one of yourself. all history, the giveaway really kickstarted the tradition that stands today. 

And now, with a little help from TicketsNow, bobbleheads have gone digital! Check out our Real Fans Bobble Facebook app to see how you look as a bobbling bobblehead!

 

Masked Beauty: A look at some of the NHL's best goalie masks

13. February 2013 13:17 by Clayton Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

Whether it's Tim Tebow including Bible verses in his eye black or Allen Iverson wearing his trademark sleeve, athletes have a long history of adding some personal flair to their uniforms. Though this happens in all major sports, it's perhaps most prevalent in hockey, where many of the league's best goalies have unique helmet designs. Sometimes these designs have personal meanings; other times they're simply chosen because they look cool. But whatever the reason, goalie helmets have become one of the most original aspects of the game. Here's a look at some of our favorites.


Ryan Miller - Buffalo Sabres

Miller is one of the most beloved athletes in Buffalo. He has a loyal following, not just because he has been in goal for the Sabres since the 2005-2006 season, and not even just because he helped lead the United States hockey team to an improbable silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, but also for his personality, something that is reflected on his helmet.

The helmet's main design is of an angry buffalo, which makes sense given the team's mascot. But it's what's on back that sets it apart from the rest of the league. He has "Miller Time" written across the back, which, aside from being an age-old beer slogan, is also what time it is when he's dominating between the pipes. The two-word phrase is written over a bulldog sporting a sweater from his alma mater Michigan State.


Marc-Andre Fleury - Pittsburgh Penguins

Fleury helped lead the Penguins to the 2009 Stanley Cup title, so when he adorned his mask with the image of a brick wall, it spoke the truth of his talents rather than to the size of his ego. If you're going to score on Fleury, you're going to have to find a way to bust past a nigh-unbreakable barrier.

We'll overlook the fact that Fleury's helmet doesn't show a completely unbreakable wall, and that seemingly the only animal that can break through that barrier is a Penguin. The exploding wall is a great effect, and hey, hopefully we'll never have to learn just how good a Penguin is at smashing through Fleury's bricks. 

Ray Emery - Chicago Blackhawks

One of the league's most veteran netminders
, Emery has made a name for himself with unique masks over the years, and this season is no different. In the past, Emery has included images of awe-inspiring (and jaw-d
ropping and/or busting) boxers from Mike Tyson and Muhammed Ali to Floyd Mayweather and George Chuvalo. This year, though, Emery went a more traditional route. This season's helmet boasts an image that plays tribute to the Blackhawks logo, along with an intricately designed Indian chief on the side. But don't let the lack of pugilistic pride fool you; Emery's Blackhawk chief is as intimidating as any prizefighter, and the helmet is a beautiful showcase of artistic ability.

To get up close and personal with some of the best goalie masks in the game, check out the NHL Ticket Exchange and get your verified tickets to the game! 

A Quick Rundown of Spring Training (or, "Is It Baseball Yet?")

6. February 2013 12:34 by Clayton Smith in Baseball, Sports , TicketsNow  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

It may seem hard to believe, but baseball season is just around the corner. Before you know it, pitchers and catchers will have already reported and we'll be looking forward to spring training games. Aside from getting a chance to see some players you might not get to otherwise, spring training puts teams in locations they're not used to - Arizona and Florida. Though most people recognize spring training games are played in these two states, fewer people may be familiar with why they were chosen and how each team ends up where it does.

The two locations correspond with different leagues. The teams that play in Florida, which include the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, and Washington Nationals, among others, are members of what's known as the Grapefruit League. For the most part, whether a team plays in the Grapefruit League is determined by their geographic location. The two Florida teams - the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays - are both there, as are other squads located along the East Coast. The arrangement lets professional teams not only play each other, but also play some of the best college teams from around the region, such as Georgia Tech and Florida State.

Along with the Sunshine State, Arizona welcomes the other half of the MLB. The teams, which include the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Cincinnati Reds, are collectively known as the Cactus League, and the arrangement is much like that of the Grapefruit League. The early season games are surprisingly lucrative, with the Cactus League earning around $300 million each year. 

Both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues have been staples of spring training for decades, and while they may seem like out-of-the-way locations, it's arguably the only way the northern teams can get ready for the regular season without being relegated to indoor facilities. Not only that, but the warm weather is a great way for players to come out of the off-season. Can you imagine the Mets taking to Citi Field in the 30 degree New York weather? Or what about the Twins taking batting practice in the middle of a blizzard?

Spring training games may not have the same quality of play as regular season contests, but for avid fans of the game they offer a unique opportunity to check out a franchise's prospects. Not only that, but tickets are often as low as $8, and there isn't a bad seat in the house. 

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