July 12 - Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber are making guest appearances at minor-league baseball parks from coast to coast this year as a company that offered "Faith Nights" at Nashville Sounds' games last year takes the concept nationwide.

With Moses, Samson and Noah bobbleheads and promotions such as New Testament giveaways, the Sounds drew more than 550 church groups to seven such events in 2004. Attendance at the Sounds' Faith Nights averaged 9,800 -- more than 3,500 better than the season average, team officials said. Nashville, Tenn.-based Third Coast Sports said it is sponsoring similar events in 10 cities this season, from the Birmingham Barons and Tulsa Drillers to the Fort Worth Cats and Portland Beavers. Kevin Huffman, vice president of operations for Third Coast Sports, said church members in the 2005 lineup of cities plan evangelistic efforts on Faith Nights. "The churches in these cities are already stepping up in good numbers and using these events as opportunities for churchwide fellowship and outreach," Huffman said. "We couldn't be happier." Bob and Larry from the Christian animated series "VeggieTales" will appear in each city and be available for photographs before games, Third Coast spokesman Matt Toy said. Plans call for "VeggieTales" creator Big Idea Inc. to give away 2,000 Bob the Tomato baseballs in each city. Also scheduled are Christian concerts and testimonies by players. The lineup of remaining Faith Night games cities and dates follows:
  • Birmingham Barons (Ala.), Sept. 3.
  • Columbus Catfish (Ga.), Aug. 19.
  • Fort Worth Cats (Texas), July 22 and Aug. 6.
  • Hagerstown Suns (Md.), July 15.
  • West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (Jackson, Tenn.), July 15 and Aug. 19.
  • Johnson City Cardinals (Tenn.), Aug. 20.
  • Mobile Bay Bears (Ala.), July 15 and Aug. 12.
  • Tulsa Drillers (Okla.), Aug. 5 and Sept. 2

    A list of concert artists, game times and giveaways can be found at www.thirdcoastsports.com.

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