Hooters Girls Throw Spring Training a Curveball
Is Hooters looking for a lift? Does the restaurant need to generate more buzz?
One thing's for sure, Hooters girls drafted to man the sidelines during spring training are throwing the game a curveball.
The Hooters waitresses have been fixtures at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., not far from where the restaurant chain started in 1983. The Philadelphia Phillies train here, and the team benefits from having the attractive, scantily clad women on the field as an added incentive to sell tickets. Hey, Mrs. Fields got her start as a ball girl.
But over the last two weeks, there have been several errors, as some Hooters girls attempted to "wing" it playing America's pastime.
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It started with a misunderstanding of when a ball is still in play.
A Hooters waitress allegedly named Priscilla interfered with play during a game between the Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. She picked up a fair ball hit by the Rays' Shelley Duncan after it went outside the third base line. Priscilla then gave the ball to a fan in the stands. Oops. "Pretty clean play, though," said the announcer.
Earlier in the week another Hooters girl did the same thing, without giving the ball away.
Twice in one week. Imagine the reaction if the mistakes were made by a guy.
"Players get beaned and brawls start when a team winning by six runs lays down a bunt, because that violates an 'unwritten rule' of the game," wrote one fan on Youtube. "But Hooters girls pick up live balls—contrary to an actual written rule—and we all laugh about it because they're pretty."
This week, it got worse, even dangerous.
First, one Hooters ball girl was almost struck by the ball, and then she barely escaped a collision with Yankee third baseman Ronnier Mustelier. She forgot the cardinal rule of baseball—keep your eye on the ball.
Then another Hooters waitress let two ground balls get away. Yahoo Sports called it a Bill Buckner move. After the first mistake, the ball girl was actually booed by fans. "Even in Clearwater, it's a tough crowd!" said the game announcer. After she did it again, he sighed, "Ah, it's early in the spring."
Look, I know they're just waitresses, but don't they get some sort of training for spring training? Or are the mistakes an intentional marketing ploy to grab Hooters some headlines? "Hey, we are so cute and we really don't know how to play sports, but please come on down for wings and we'll all laugh about it!"
If it's a ploy, it may be working. After Priscilla tossed the live ball into the stands, Rays manager Joe Maddon praised the blonde's form.
"She moved her feet well," he told the Tampa Bay Times. "I thought she presented her hands to the ball very well also. The overall package was very, um, efficient."
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Maybe the Phillies should pay attention. Considering the team is 11-12 in spring training, it's getting hard to tell the players from the ball girls.
—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells