Ty USA Sports Promotions
On May 18, 1997 at Wrigley Field, Ty teamed up with the Chicago Cubs baseball team to hand out a Cubbie Beanie Baby to each of the first 10,000 children age 13 and under who attended that day's game. Each Cubbie came with a special commemorative card.
This marked the first sports promotion using Ty Beanie Babies. The Chicago Cubs had a second promotional giveaway of Cubbie on September 6, 1997. The Cubbie promotions were so successful that many more teams partnered with Ty to hand out Beanie Babies to youngsters attending their games.
Cubbie made his promotional debut at a baseball game but it wasn't long after that young fans were crowding into basketball, football and hockey stadiums to collect more of the promotional Beanies.
On January 17, 1998, for a Philadelphia 76ers game, Baldy became the first Beanie Baby to be handed out at a professional basketball event. Blackie brought football into the promotional fold when the Chicago Bears included him in their Kids Fan Club Kits at the National Sports Collector's Convention on August 5, 1998. The sport of Hockey followed soon after when Blackie was handed out by the Boston Bruins at their game on October 12, 1998.
Since the first Cubbie promotion in 1997, Beanie Babies have been distributed at well over a hundred sporting events. The promotions are not exclusively limited to the USA. There have also been promotions in Canada and Japan. The sports promotion Beanie Babies also pioneered the way for additional Ty product lines like Boppers, Teenie Beanie Boppers, Buddies and Classics to be used for sports promotions.
There are two types of sports promotion Beanie Babies (and other Ty products). The first type is a pre-existing Beanie. These are the same as regular retail Beanie Babies. The only way to connect a pre-existing Beanie to a specific game is with the unique commemorative card handed out with the Beanie at the game. The commemorative cards are the real collectible here, since a similar retail Beanie Baby with the same name could easily be substituted for the actual Beanie Baby that was handed out at the game.
The second type of promotional Beanie Baby is one that is unique and produced only for a specific game, player or event. It could be a completely new Beanie Baby or a pre-existing Beanie Baby with a distinguishing swing tag, tush tag, or unique item of clothing.