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Ripken specialty products flying off the shelves

Ripken specialty products flying off the shelves

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In honor of the 20th anniversary of Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games streak, a handful of businesses have used their products to join in the celebration — with great success.

Just one month after they released a special Fielder’s Choice lager, Baltimore based-Heavy Seas reported that the 4,500 cases they produced are sold out. The cans hit bars and package stores across the region the week of July 27.

“From all retail accounts that we are aware of, it’s virtually gone,” said Heavy Seas marketing director Fred Crudder on Wednesday. The brewery saved a small, emergency stock of the special edition beer for an unnamed retailer that will be shipped out on Friday.

Collector's Old Bay can commemorating the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr.'s record-breaking consecutive baseball games played.
Collector’s Old Bay can commemorating the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr.’s record-breaking consecutive baseball games played.

In August, McCormick & Company announced the release of a limited edition Old Bay seasoning in a can featuring a 20th anniversary logo. McCormick produced 48,000 cans and each can has a unique number for collectors. The special edition seasoning has been available in stores across the mid-Atlantic region since the week of Aug. 17.

Axios Wine of Napa Valley is selling 2,131 bottles of California Cabernet for $300 and $500 a bottle. The more expensive package includes a ball signed by Ripken. The wine will be in stores starting Nov. 1 but Axios is accepting pre-orders. A spokesman said via email on Wednesday that the $500 bottles are almost sold out.

A portion of sales from those products goes toward the Carl Ripken, Sr. Foundation, a nonprofit named after Ripken Jr.’s father, which brings baseball and softball programs to underserved communities across the country.

“The reaction to them has been overwhelming,” said John Maroon, foundation spokesperson, adding that he’s constantly getting emails from people looking for the commemorative Old Bay cans and Fielder’s Choice lager.

“It’s baseball fans but it’s also memorabilia people,” he said.

The foundation is getting $2 for every case of Fielder’s Choice, totaling roughly $9,000. One-third of Axion’s proceeds from wine sales will go the foundation.

Despite the financial aspect of the commemorative sales, Maroon said it’s not a large revenue stream for the foundation, calling it a “branding exercise.”

“It’s much more of a celebratory gesture than it is a revenue source,” he said.

Even though the special edition beer was a large success for Heavy Seas, which is also celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Crudder said it was “completely divergent”  from the brewery’s nautical, adventure and pirate theme.

“That beer brought awareness of Heavy Seas to people who had no idea we existed,” said Crudder. The beer was sold at Camden Yards at the Sept. 1 game, which was dedicated to Ripken and “The Streak.”

Crudder said the brewery has no plans to make a baseball themed beer in 2016, attributing Fielder’s Choice’s success to the timing of Ripken’s celebration.

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