What It Was Like To Attend ‘Game Of Thrones Night’ At The Staten Island Yankees Game
Yesterday I attended “Game of Thrones” night at Richmond County Bank Stadium, the home of the Staten Island Yankees. I was initially hesitant about accepting the assignment because minor league baseball is dull at best and Staten Island is generally gross -- but as a favor to a friend, I agreed to go.
When I arrived I saw that the Staten Island Yankees were taking the evening’s "GoT" theme seriously. The team had been renamed the Direwolves for the night -- at the request of series author George R.R. Martin, a long-time Mets fan who refused to attend a "Yankees" game -- and the players were outfitted accordingly. Their walk-up music had been replaced by instrumentals from the show and quotes like “Shame, shame, shame” blared from the PA system in between pitches.
The fans in attendance were extremely enthusiastic about the whole thing and many people were wearing costumes. It seemed like a large contingent of the crowd had come simply to participate in the pageantry of the evening and the stadium was nearly at capacity; it ended up being a record-setting night for Richmond County Bank Stadium. I was stopped many times by people looking to talk obsessively about "Game of Thrones," who seemed genuinely disgusted when I replied that I wasn’t really that big of a fan, and was just there to work. Sorry.
As advertised, the show’s creator was in attendance and threw out the first pitch. An actual wolf/perhaps just very large white dog had been brought along as well and the two posed for photos with fans throughout the game. Martin even returned to the field in the 8th to give a speech about the need for wildlife conservation, which was met with mild enthusiasm from the crowd. Fantasy is cool -- the reality of our environmental issues, less so.
I was impressed by the level of commitment displayed by both the Staten Island Yankees and their fans (or just nearby series aficionados). I was at "Seinfeld Night" hosted by the Brooklyn Cyclones, another local minor league team, earlier in the summer and there wasn’t nearly as much energy or enthusiasm, no doubt a testament to the current popularity surrounding "GoT." "Seinfeld" is old news.
Ultimately -- and this is crucial for anyone attending themed evenings at ballparks -- it was still a fairly boring minor league baseball game but the charged atmosphere and characters made for an unique and at times fascinating experience. It was almost worth the drudgery of traveling to Staten Island on a Saturday night, although not quite.
For more photos of the event -- including all the crazy costumes, shirts, hats, and wolves/dogs in attendance -- go here.
John McCarten is a photographer based in New York City.
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