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Twins reach merchandising deal with Prince estate

If this co-branding agreement was a person, it’d be Prince Rogers Nelson of persons.

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
Those umbrellas were siiiiiiccccccccccccckkkkkk.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

When you think of baseball in Minnesota, one person immediately comes to mind: Prince. From the Twins using “Let’s Go Crazy” as their home run celebration song since 2010, to Torii Hunter making rookies sing “Little Red Corvette” in the clubhouse, to, um, they can turn all of the lights at Target Field purple, right? The Artist is just inextricably combined with his hometown baseball team — and now he’s going to be even more.

That’s because the Twins reached an official merchandising deal with Prince’s estate earlier this week, allowing the team to make and sell official Prince-related items.

We’re not just talking a couple stadium giveaways here, either — the Clubhouse Store at Target Field is going to start selling official Prince/Twins-related items year round, starting with the Home Opener on April 5th. The Star Tribunes believes this co-branding deal is the first of its kind in Major League Baseball, noting that while other teams have sold limited edition t-shirts for stadium concerts, it doesn’t seem any other team has made a long-time commitment to one artist like this. The Twins’ deal also appears to be one of few made so far with the Prince estate, which only made its first merchandising agreement late last November.

There aren’t many details yet on what kind of Prince stuff the Twins will actually be selling, but the Star Tribune mentions “hats, shirts and balls.” I literally never knew I needed a Prince-branded baseball until right this very second.

I imagine the Twins are not going to abuse this, but I totally would. The possibilities seem endless. Just dig if you will this picture:

  • Prince-themed baseball glove — I’m imagining this as sort of a catcher’s mitt that’s pretty big and round, specifically looking like a pancake with the love symbol burnt into it.
  • Prince-themed baseball jersey — The Twins are probably already planning some kind of obvious Prince baseball jersey that’s purple with the love symbol on the back, but hear me out for a second: Prince Twins jersey, that is Twins colors and sort of looks like a Twins jersey, but it’s a blouse. With the ruffles all in the front and everything.
  • Prince-singing TC Bear — This could either be like one of those plush toys where you press its hand and it starts singing, or something like a Teddy Ruxpin, where it plays/sings entire cassette tapes you load into it. I prefer the Ruxpin model, because I think Prince might have dug the retro aspect of it, and it would teach kids about cassettes! I’d settle for just a TC Bear implanted with an MP3 of Darling Nikki.
  • Prince-themed sports-drink cooler — I don’t know if this works under the merchandising contract because I don’t imagine they could actually sell this (the logistics would be a bit complicated), but here’s the idea: the Twins replace that orange Gatorade jug in the dugout with a purple one that has the love symbol on it, but there’s no actual liquid in it. Instead, it’s full of doves, so when the team wins a walk-off and they go to dump the cooler on the game’s hero, a bunch of doves fly out! How cool would that be?
  • Third Eye TC Sunglasses — These would be like the ones Prince loved wearing later in life: regular sunglasses with round lenses, but with a third lens in the middle above the two normal lenses (hence, “third eye”). Useful for the ballpark (during day games) and useful for life. Slap a purple TC logo on that third eye and you’ll sell them like dollar dogs.
  • Prince-themed household items – One of the greatest promo nights at Target Field is when they give away free light bulbs. Yes, light bulbs. Plural. I haven’t bought a light bulb in four years and I don’t plan to start now. They need to do more of these promotional nights and they might as well tie it in with Prince. Twine O’ The Times. Mop Life. I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Pans. Nothing Compares 2 Glue. Nothing Compares 2 Screws. Nothing Compares 2 Shampoo. Nothing Compares 2 Tissues. Nothing Compares 2 Stew?
  • Starfish and Coffee – The Twins could give the guests free maple syrup and jam. Or perhaps a toy starfish and a cup of coffee. Look, they are certainly not giving us pink cashmere or diamonds and pearls. Work with me here, people!

I’m not actually sure how Prince would feel about all this merchandising. He wasn’t really a selling-stuff kind of guy, and though he was a noted local sports fan — writing a song for the Vikings, hosting a private championship party for the Lynx, and regularly attending Timberwolves games — I don’t know if Prince actually liked... baseball? Or even if he was a Twins fan. But whatever! His family specifically approved. We’re doing it.

Prince Night 2018 (2/08/18)

In addition to the merchandising deal, the Twins also announced plans for a Prince Night at Target Field in June, similar to the ones they’ve done the past couple years. You may especially remember last year’s Prince Night, which featured the Purple Rain umbrella giveaway. It was supposedly the most expensive stadium giveaway the Twins have ever done, and you can easily see why: that umbrella was one sexy motherfucker.

These umbrellas were so in-demand I even had random SB Nation writers from other team blogs I didn’t even know e-mailing me to see if I could get one for them. Sorry guys — would if I could! I got one for myself, but that’s about all I could swing. People are still selling the umbrellas on e-bay, though, from what appears to be anywhere from about $50 to $25,000.

This year’s Prince Night is scheduled for the June 8th game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anheim. The giveaway doesn’t look nearly as fancy as last year’s umbrella, but still pretty cool: an inflatable Prince guitar.

As you can see, there’s also a special ticket package promotion this year featuring purple baseball hats with the love symbol on the front and the TC logo on the side. To get those you have to buy tickets in specific sections, ranging from $28 to $81.

I know all this stuff is probably not what Prince wanted while he was living, but he’s dead now. He is literally just a pile of ashes in a purple, bedazzled urn above his favorite breakfast nook at Paisley Park.

I want people to be able to remember and celebrate Prince. Despite the lack of evidence he was even a baseball fan, there’s enough there. I can’t imagine he hated the Twins. Prince liked sports (he somewhat uncharacteristically let all the local teams, including the Twins, use his songs). You can see First Ave from where Rod Carew’s statue stands outside Target Field. First Ave — the club Prince made one of the most famous venues in the world — is just literally just steps down the street.

Frankly, a lot of the tourists who actually come to the Twin Cities come to watch their baseball teams play the Twins, given our stadium has been highly touted, and it’s in a great, accessible area downtown. The Twins host at lest 81 games there a year — way more than any other sport. Visitors might not get that far outside of downtown (understandably), so doesn’t it make sense to provide souvenirs that mark our city at Target Field? And who, or what, marks our city more than Prince Rogers Nelson? No one else, and nothing else, has ever even been close to him.

Excuse me, tough. I was, um... chopping onions?