Shell Shocked: Hermit Crab Association Reshapes Baseball Team’s Planned Giveaway

The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs planned to give a free hermit crab to the first 1,000 fans to arrive at the minor league team’s Opening Day game. That idea didn’t sit well with the group whose mission is to protect the tiny crustacean.

With baseball season right around the corner, minor league teams throughout the country are ramping up their wacky promotions and fan giveaways. Teams are known to pull out all the stops in an attempt to fill the bleachers with fans.

In recent years, several clubs have made a name for themselves with their outside-the-box thinking: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs recently partnered with a local business to give away free funeral services. The Potomac Nationals hosted Titanic Night in 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. And last year, the Toledo Mud Hens called on actor Bill Murray to help promote Ghostbusters Night.

But one event planned for next month caused such an outcry among supporters of a certain crustacean that the team changed course and turned the game into an awareness- and fund-raising opportunity for the association that spoke up.

The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs announced last week that, at its Opening Day game on April 24, the first 1,000 fans to arrive would receive a free hermit crab and terrarium container. The Hermit Crab Association saw the promotion as a misguided attempt to woo fans and set out to stop it.

“The decision to keep hermit crabs should warrant the same amount of consideration as owning any other type of pet, and we believe they should never be given away as prizes because of this,” HCA said in a statement. “Hermit crabs require specialized care and when given the proper environment should live for decades in captivity. They are not in any way a short-lived pet.”

The giveaway also had hidden burdens for the “winning” families, HCA noted.

“The plastic terrarium they will be sent home in is only a temporary transport container, and the initial set-up costs of a proper enclosure with new items will generally start at $100 for anyone receiving one of these ‘free’ hermit crabs,” HCA said. And if not properly cared for, the crabs “will not live for more than a few weeks or months, which will lead to heartache for the small children of hundreds of fans.”

HCA wasn’t the only group to object to the promotion. According to the team, thousands of emails, letters, and posts on social media came flooding in after it announced the event. That response prompted the team to make a number of changes, which included inviting HCA members to throw out the first pitch, temporarily changing the team’s name to Southern Maryland Hermit Crabs, and opting to give away plastic hermit crab figurines to the first 1,000 fans rather than the real, live animal.

Also, the players will wear specially designed Hermit Crab jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game, with all proceeds benefiting the Hermit Crab Association.

The response has “not only shown me that there is a large group of hermit crab enthusiasts, but also that they happen to be some of the most passionate people that I have ever encountered,” Courtney Knichel, the team’s assistant general manager, said in a statement. “Being able to dedicate our biggest game of the season to this tiny, loveable animal really solidifies what Crustacean Nation is all about!”


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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