Chris Farley's 'Matt Foley' character honored by minor-league team: 'Well, la-de frickin-da!'

Madison Mallards to play as Madison Motivational Speakers for Saturday night game

Cover Image for Chris Farley's 'Matt Foley' character honored by minor-league team: 'Well, la-de frickin-da!'
For one night, the Madison Mallards will be "livin' in a van down by the river." (Credit: Madison Mallards)

The Madison Mallards have it all. Van, baseball, the whole kit and kaboodle.

And they’ll showcase it Saturday night, when they’ll play as the Madison Motivational Speakers in tribute to the iconic Chris Farley character from his classic “Saturday Night Live” skit.

The late Farley, a native of Madison, Wisconsin, first played Foley on "SNL" in 1993, and the skit became a phenomenon. In April, ScreenRant ranked Foley’s debut as the seventh-best skit in the show's illustrious history.

In honor of Matt Foley, a 35-year-old, three-time divorcee who lived in a van “down by the river”, the Mallards — a team in the collegiate summer Northwoods League — will wear blue-and-white checkered jerseys with a green tie in the front and a hat with an animated portrait of Foley.

Fans attending the game against the Lakeshore Chinooks also have a chance to purchase the Foley hats and replica jerseys. And all fans are encouraged to wear them in the stands.

“Just hopefully not jumping through any tables,” said Kyle Chisholm, the team’s marketing director.

But you can also purchase the Foley gear even if you’re not attending.

People from nearly, “if not all 50 states” have purchased Matt Foley jerseys or hats, according to Brent Bartels, the Mallards’ creative services manager.

“When we announced it, it exploded,” Bartels said.

“The biggest thing is, if you have an idea, there's really no way to test how much people will buy it,” Chisholm added. “It's just one of those things that like, we have that national angle, we have the Madison angle, let's cross our fingers and hope that people latch on to this.”

The Motivational Speakers Night will mark Madison’s seventh rebrand in the previous two seasons, with others including the Muskallards and the Old Fashioneds.

As cllct detailed earlier this season in our story about "Star Wars" promotions, independent and minor-league baseball must work to litter the calendar with different promotional items and theme nights, because unlike Major League Baseball, most fans aren’t simply attending these games for the baseball itself.

And this is one of the important pieces from a marketing standpoint of not working in the majors, Chisholm said.

“In a weird way, it's almost better to be working in independent baseball versus a team like the Yankees. We can trot out 36 uniforms across 36 nights if we really want to. That's totally the fun of it.”

But Madison wasn’t planning on doing a Motivational Speakers Night this year.

“Another team had taken one of our original ideas that we were going to do this season,” Bartels said. “So, we had to scramble to come up with something different. And this kind of was perfect. And it was like why didn't we do this before?”

In order to make the event happen, the Mallards met with Farley’s brother Tom, as the family has ownership of the skit. While most "SNL" skits are owned by the show, Farley co-wrote the skit with Bob Odenkirk before his time on the show, and thus maintained ownership of it. When he died, that ownership was then left to his family.

In honor of Farley, who died of an overdose in 1997, $5 from each package sold for the pre-sale will be donated to the Recovery Foundation, a Madison-based non-profit that helps people recover from substance-use disorders.

“We make that a priority, even if it costs us a little bit more money on the merchandise side of things,” Bartels said, “so that we can make sure we're doing something good for the community.”

Matt Liberman is a video producer and reporter for cllct.