It's every minor-league baseball team's nightmare: What if you played a game, and nobody came? Well, the Charleston RiverDogs did just that in a bid to break the pro baseball record for lowest attendance.
On July 8, Mike Veeck, president of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Class A affiliate, orchestrated "Nobody Night at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Ballpark, actually banning fans from the game between the RiverDogs and the Columbus Red Stixx.
With the gates securely locked, the game proceeded as normal, albeit sans fans, with ushers, media, and concession stand workers at the ready.
Public address announcements and music sounded through the stadium, and between-inning promotions went on as usual.
Meanwhile, some 1,800 "uninvited fans attended festivities outside at adjacent Brittlebank Park, where the ESPN Radio broadcast was heard over loudspeakers as they enjoyed $1 beer and $1 hot dogs. Fans were let in after five innings - enough to make the record official.
"There are some discrepancies as to who actually holds the record, but no one's ever had zero, said Veeck. "Our GM hates me for this one."
For the record, the previous smallest attendance was on September 17, 1881, as 12 loyal fans watched hometown Chicago beat Troy 10-8 in a rainstorm.
"I just hope we're not considered for contraction after that night," worried RiverDogs GM Derek Sharrer. "But Mike has these kinds of episodes."
He certainly does. Veeck is also the PR mastermind behind such ill-fated gimmicks as "Vasectomy Night, which spurred such backlash, it was cancelled within hours of the game.
Then there was the Friday the 13th "Voodoo Night fiasco, inadvertently scheduled on Good Friday. ("It was a mistake, but as a good Catholic, I asked for forgiveness, Veeck said.)
And who could forget the "Disco Demolition Night promotion for the Chicago White Sox in 1979, during which fans were invited to burn disco records in the outfield of Comiskey Park, almost sparking a riot, and resulting in pro baseball's only forfeit of the last century.
Dozens of outlets picked up the Nobody Night story, including Charleston's Post & Courier, AP, ESPN.com, 1010Wins.com, The Washington Post, and the BBC. Producers for HBO's Real Sports are planning a documentary on Veeck and his antics, but have not released any air-date information
As for the game, the "record crowd left disappointed, as the hometown RiverDogs lost 4-2.