In short order, Brooklyn’s gone from having no major professional sports teams to two—the much-ballyhooed, thoroughly-mediocre Nets, and the Islanders, who will play their home games at Barclays starting in 2015. We haven’t had Major League Baseball since 1957, when the Brooklyn Dodgers, foreshadowing the migrations of later generations of city-weary New Yorkers, absconded for Los Angeles.
But who needs the majors, when you have the minors, and the Brooklyn Cyclones? The very best thing about minor league sports are the tragicomic lengths that teams’ marketing departments will go to in order to attract fans to the ballpark. It’s really just worth running down a list of some of the best examples:
- • July 19, 2007: the New Britain Rock Cats held a Speed Dating Night. Participating singles changed seats at the end of every inning, creating a situation whereby one’s chances of figuratively “scoring” increased as the home team literally scored (runs).
- • On May 21, 2007, the West Virginia Power had the idea to close the regular bathrooms and have fans use portable toilets to aid in the appreciation of indoor plumbing (this feels uniquely West Virginian). They called it Salute to Indoor Plumbing Night, and it did not interfere with the team’s regularly-scheduled Hamburger Helper skillet toss competition.
- • In May of 2010, the Quad City River Bandits celebrated birth, death, and everything in between with a Circle of Life Weekend. The promotion covered birth (a night for expectant mothers), school (a one-year scholarship to the University of Iowa), marriage (an all-expenses paid wedding), and death (an all-expenses paid funeral) in one long weekend of baseball.
- • Perhaps taking the cake are the Altoona Curve, who annually stage an Awful Night, wherein the first 1,000 fans to arrive at the ballpark are given a souvenir that qualifies as “awful” (examples include noisemakers, bottomless cups, music from David Hasselhoff and William Shatner, squares of bubble wrap, and color photos of a removed gall bladder). There are non-celebrity autograph sessions and fans have been served Spam and Cheese sandwiches. The players are treated poorly, albeit less so, as their “failing averages” are posted on the scoreboard, instead of their batting averages.
And so on. Poised to join these illustrious ranks is the Salute to Seinfeld Night, by our very own Brooklyn Cyclones. The Mets’ minor-league affiliate plays on Coney Island, and on July 5th—the 25th anniversary of the show’s first airing—the first 2,500 fans who arrived to the ad hoc-named Vandelay Industries Park will receive Keith Hernandez “Magic Loogie” Bobblehead dolls, Keith Hernandez being the one true link between the Mets and “Seinfeld”.
The team is also promising a free ticket to anybody who shows up with a business card proving they are a latex salesman, while fans who dress in mailmen garb as Newman will get to throw out the ceremonial first pitch (this, presumably, will delay the start of the game by some time). And good news, for once, for anyone named George Costanza: you’ll be allowed to join the radio broadcast booth for an inning of color commentary.
There will also be an “airing of the grievances” table, a game of “Risk” in the concourse, and an Elaine dancing contest. Never ones to be left out, the Cyclones players will wear puffy shirts during batting practice.
George Costanza told the (fake) owner of another famous baseball franchise: “I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization.” Not so here. This is awesome. Game tickets go on sale May 10th, so set an alert in your calendars.
Follow Phillip Pantuso on Twitter @phillippantuso.