Bleacher Bum BBQ Slated for Indiana Series Finale Sunday
April 23, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The sixth-annual Bleacher Bum Barbecue presented by WCIA, the premier promotion for Fighting Illini baseball, will be held Sunday, April 27, when Illinois hosts Indiana at 1 p.m. at Illinois Field. This year's event will feature free barbecue courtesy of Hickory River for the first 500 fans and free Illinois baseball mini helmets for the first 1,000 fans.
Free admission and free parking will be offered at the event, with free food beginning an hour before first pitch at noon. Fans also will be able to get free snow cones in their mini helmets during the showdown between the top two teams in the Big Ten. The event has quickly become successful, as the previous five editions have drawn an average crowd of 3,022 fans to Illinois Field, including an all-time high of 5,214 in 2009.
The first Bleacher Bum Barbecue was a night to remember at Illinois Field, with the school-record crowd of 5,214 being treated to a thrilling ninth-inning comeback that saw the No. 25 Illini score three runs against Jake Hale, the Big Ten's best closer, to top the No. 27 Buckeyes. Left fielder Casey McMurray delivered the game-winning hit, a single through the right side, to drive in Mike Giller after OSU had committed a pair of errors in the ninth.
A season-high 2,805 fans attended the 2010 edition of the Bleacher Bum Barbecue but the Illini couldn't pull out a victory, falling 11-4 to Northwestern despite a three-hit night by shortstop Josh Parr and a pair of RBIs from Giller. In 2011, the Illini pulled out a 13-9 comeback victory over Ohio State in front of a season-high 2,019 fans. Will Strack threw four scoreless innings of relief and Illinois scored six runs in its final three at bats to take the series-opener from the Buckeyes.
In 2012 at the fourth-annual event, Willie Argo and Thomas Shelton each homered but Michigan State grabbed a 15-8 win over Illinois in front of the eighth-best crowd in school history of 2,499. Last season, Justin Parr hit for the cycle in Illinois' 17-6 victory over Purdue. The Illini pounded out 20 hits and completed the sweep of the Boilermakers in front of 2,574 fans, the sixth-largest home crowd in school history.
Other promotions this weekend include the second Illinois baseball card set giveaway (while supplies last), post-game autographs with select players on Friday, Spring Cleaning Day on Saturday and post-game wiffle ball for kids on Sunday (weather permitting). Illinois' marketing department will give out throwback prizes from years past as part of Spring Cleaning Day.