Did you ever wonder what a Lake Elsinore Storm looked like? What about a Rancho Cucamonga Quake or a Hickory Crawdad?
With the help of a book called, "Free Stuff for Kids," you can get free items from those teams simply by mailing them a letter. The latest book includes 20 minor-league contacts.
The fun packages that teams send usually include stickers with the team's logo and pocket schedules. Sometimes they also include baseball cards.
"We never included the minor leagues before," said Dave Tobey, the book's editor. "When we were first sitting around and developing the next book, it was the middle of the baseball strike and the interest in minor leagues had taken off.
"Plus, they got really attractive logos. The Toledo Mud Hens have a chicken swinging a bat, and the Winston-Salem Warthogs have a pig with a bat in its mouth. They're unique visual things."
There is even a small section on the Olympics, including Team USA baseball, which will send out cards from the 1992 squad.
Major-league baseball has been a fixture during the book's 19-year run. Participating teams include the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and
Most teams send a window decal, schedule and team photo. The Phillies will send either a team photo or a picture of their mascot, the Phillie Phanatic.
"It's a winner concept," Tobey said. "You teach a kid how to write a letter, follow instructions and read carefully. They have to put a stamp on the letter with a self-addressed envelope and mail it, and in about six to eight weeks they'll get mail.
"There are two things kids love, and that is getting mail and getting things free. It's an educational tool and a good learning experience."
The book, which also includes addresses of teams in other sports, as well as items of a scientific and entertainment nature, has sold 4 million copies since its first issue in 1977.
"What we look for is things that are absolutely free or a high percentage of them being free," Tobey said.
"The other part is the items have to have quality. We want something that the kids will consider to be cool."
The 1996 edition will be available in bookstores for $7 in a few weeks.
It can be ordered from Meadowbrook Press, 18318 Minnetonka Blvd., Deephaven, MN 55391.