In one of the most creative promotions of the season, the New York-Penn League affiliate of the Mets pulled out all the stops in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the iconic show’s pilot episode. MCU Park was renamed Vandelay Industries Park (“And you wanna be my latex salesman?”), the Cyclones took batting practice in pirate puffy shirts (“But I don’t want to be a Pirate!”), a fan reeled in a slice of marble rye bread with a fishing rod from the suite level (“Give me that marble rye, you old bag!”) and a guy named George Costanza drove down from Rhode Island to throw out the first pitch (“Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”).
The first 3,000 fans received a Keith Hernandez “Magic Loogie” bobblehead, a reference to an episode in which Kramer and Newman accuse him of spitting on them. The scene is a parody of Kevin Costner’s courtroom speech in Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-rich movie “JFK,” and Hernandez points to his former Mets’ teammate Roger McDowell as the possible “second spitter.”
Fans were invited to visit the information table for “an airing of grievances,’ the foul poles were renamed the “Festivus Poles,” a group of Elaine lookalikes held a dance-off on the field, and the actor who portrayed the “Soup Nazi” mingled with the crowd in full character.
The impetus for Seinfeld Night came from Cyclones director of promotions Billy Harner, who “spearheaded the entire day in terms of ideas and implementation,” Cyclones vice president Steve Cohen said. “We started looking at the various anniversaries in January and saw that Seinfield’s 25th anniversary was July 5th. It was perfect.”
Only a few of the Cyclones players could relate to the comedy Seinfeld. There are no players older than 23 on the roster and 13 Cyclones are foreign-born. However, the syndication of the show has allowed for a new generation of followers.
“I’ve been watching Seinfeld since I was little,” said left fielder Michael Katz, the Mets ninth-round pick in June. “My dad is a huge fan. Once he heard this was on the schedule he wasn’t going to miss it.
“There is so many applicable lessons about Seinfeld. The show is timeless. I was first in line to wear the puffy shirts for batting practice. All of the American kids have at least heard of the show. I don’t know if I could even try and explain it to the Spanish kids.”
Fans arrived from as far away as Canada, Ohio and Kentucky, Harner said, proving that Seinfeld’s humor resonates far beyond New York City, where the show was set.
Cyclones pitching coach Tom Signore proudly donned the puffy shirt and says he quotes the television series when giving advice on the mound. He said he once told a pitcher who was on the verge of giving up a lead that “we don’t want to be ‘Even Steven,’ and he had no idea what I was talking about. But what I did was, I got his mind totally off the game for a second.”
Signore wasn’t sure he would able to make the festivities, or is it Festivus-ities?
He was with the Mets Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas earlier this season, filling in for Frank Viola, who is recovering from open heart surgery. Signore was ecstatic when he heard that he would be in Brooklyn for Seinfeld Night.
“This is probably the most ingenious promotion I’ve seen in 21 years of being in baseball,” Signore said. “But the players don’t get it. For myself and my daughter, we watch it faithfully. I’ve seen every episode and I own all nine seasons on DVD.”
When asked how we would explain the show to someone who has never seen it, Signore didn’t hesitate.
“They say Seinfeld is a show about nothing,” Signore said. “I say it’s a show about everything. There are very realistic things that happen in that show that occur in everyone’s day.”
And as Elaine would say, “Yadda, Yadda, Yadda . . . “