Baseball is the world’s greatest sport*, without need for any giveaways, gimmicks or accoutrements. But in the tradition of Bill Veeck, New York City’s teams nevertheless induce fans to walk through the turnstiles with wacky promotions and freebies. Here are some of the best announced so far for this season.
1. Seinfeld Night
August 4, Cyclones
Past editions of this popular theme night have brought the real Kenny Kramer to the ballpark, along with the actors who played Jackie Chiles and the Soup Nazi. The Cyclones have also given away Roger McDowell “Second Spitter” bobbleheads and run diversions like an Elaine “Little Kicks” dance contest. That’s gold, Jerry. Gold!
2. Bark at the Park/Dog Days of Summer
April 2, May 5 and September 10, Mets; July 7, Staten Island Yankees; July 15, Brooklyn Cyclones
If you’re like us, one of your only complaints about baseball games is that you’re generally not allowed to bring your dog. Fortunately, on Bark at the Park nights, Mets fans can bring their dogs with them provided they purchase special separate tickets for their four-legged fellow fans. There’s even a chance to walk your buddy around the warning track. On July 7, the Staten Island Yankees will also welcome dogs to the ballpark, and the Cyclones will do the same on July 15.
July 4 and various other dates, Staten Island Yankees
The Staten Island Yankees aren’t the only local team to host fireworks nights, but the views from Richmond County Bank Ballpark make an especially nice backdrop for pyrotechnics.
4. Didi Gregorius Bat Day
May 12, Yankees
Bat Day is a classic among ballpark promotions, right up there with Cap Day. And this is no ordinary bat—it’s branded with the signature of Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius.
5. The Sandlot 25th Anniversary Celebration
July 20, Brooklyn Cyclones
It’s been a quarter century since the release of classic baseball movie The Sandlot. The Cyclones will celebrate the milestone at their ballpark, and word is The Great Hambino himself (actor Patrick Renna) will be there.
6. Fanny Pack
June 3, Mets
As the official tourism marketing organization of New York City, you know we’re going to list fanny pack day. Go ahead, store your valuables around your waist using this handsome Mets-branded accessory.
7. Star Wars Night with Aaron Judge Jedi Bobblehead/Mr. Met As Han Solo Bobblehead/Star Wars Night at MCU Park
May 4, Yankees; May 19, Mets; August 25, Brooklyn Cyclones
Aaron Judge is very tall and very good at baseball, but in real life he uses a bat instead of a lightsaber. And good, we say. A lightsaber would probably just slice a baseball in half rather than sending it into play. Anyway, this bobblehead depicts a world in which Judge does have a lightsaber. The Mets’ bobblehead features Mr. Met as Han Solo, piloting the Millennium Falcon alongside Chewbacca, who we can now confirm is a Mets fan. No word yet on what the Cyclones will do for Star Wars Night—but they’re having one.
8. Brooklyn Bridge Socks
July 3, Brooklyn Cyclones
Baseball is the sport most associated with sock excellence. Oh, basketball has tube socks, but baseball has high socks, stirrups and even two teams named after socks. So it’s fitting for the Cyclones to give away these socks emblazoned with the famous span linking Brooklyn and Manhattan.
9. Marvel Superhero Night Featuring Black Panther
July 15, Brooklyn Cyclones
Black Panther is the first movie since 2009’s Avatar to top the United States box office for five consecutive weekends. The first 2,000 fans through the gates at this game will get a Black Panther bobblehead. If you want one, start lining up now.
10. Old-Timers’ Day
June 17, Yankees
Former Yankees come back to the Bronx in this longstanding annual tradition.
11. Free Shirt Friday: Pizza Box Design
May 18, Mets
The Mets have distributed T-shirts on Friday nights for the past several seasons. Tonight’s edition is a fine memento for any NYC visitor in that it brings together two great New York institutions: the Mets and the pizza by which all others are measured (or, more precisely, a design resembling a box in which one might find said pizza).
12. 1998 World Series Champions 20th Anniversary Celebration
August 18, Yankees
Yankees fans will frequently let you know they’ve won 27 championships, but each one is special. This year marks two decades since the 1998 team’s triumph—the first of three in a row—and you can expect the celebration to include visits from some of the team’s greats. Will Jeter be in the house? Mariano Rivera? Bernie Williams? We can’t make any guarantees, but this is almost certain to be something Yankees die-hards will want to experience in person.
We’ve heard from the Staten Island Yankees that their promotional slate this season will include pop-culture theme days including “Music Mondays,” “TV Tuesdays” and “Throwback Thursdays” (each #TBT honors a particular decade). They plan to release more details in April, so keep an eye out for those.
* Opinion of writer only; not official view of nycgo.com