“Meet George R.R. Martin Night” a Hit
By Lucia Rossi
The Staten Island Yankees may be a minor league franchise, but their August 8 game against the Hudson Valley Renegades was nothing but major.
Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Yanks, hosted a “Game of Thrones”-themed “Meet George R.R. Martin Night.”
Staten Islanders flocked to this game in droves, to the point at which they broke the attendance record with 7,529 fans. The Yankees, renamed Direwolves for the night, did not disappoint when they beat the Lannister Lions, 10-1.
Nothing draws people together better than getting free merchandise. People were waiting on line for hours in hopes of being the one of the first 2,500 fans to get in to receive two free books, “Game of Thrones” and “Fevre Dream,” and a limited edition Staten Island Direwolf hat.
The first 400 people to get inside received wristbands that allowed them to meet George R.R. Martin and get their books autographed. Some of the many hats and books given away are currently being sold on Ebay from $30 to $100.
No “Game of Thrones” event would be complete without an iron throne. This throne, however, was made of baseball bats instead of swords. Everyone took a turn sitting on the throne and taking photos, including Martin himself.
Both teams were dressed for the occasion with special Direwolf and Lannister jerseys. These game-worn jerseys would later be auctioned off to support Martin’s favorite charity, the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary.
The nonprofit organization set up a booth for donations and brought an arctic wolf, named Flurry, to the game.
People wanted to pet the wolf that so closely resembled Jon Snow’s direwolf, Ghost, but were turned away by Leyton Jay Cougar, Flurry’s handler.
“Wild animals are not pets,” Cougar told the audience.
The sanctuary rescues abused and abandoned wolves and needs $1,000 a day to support itself, according to Cougar. So far, they raised $8,000 from the auction of the jerseys and were given a large $10,000 check from the SI Yankees at the game.
To start the game, the show’s theme played on the big screen, but instead of showing the map of Westeros, it was the map of the five boroughs. Many Staten Islanders showed their love and enthusiasm for “Game of Thrones” by cosplaying as their favorite characters for the event. The audience’s energy was strong as everyone chanted with the familiar bell sound, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” every time a player on the opposing team was out, and the shame on the players faces were evident.
Throughout the night, fans were treated to a series “Game of Thrones” music, videos, and games. Every time the Direwolves scored, the loudspeaker played the sound of a wolf howling, which got everyone to howl, too.
At another point in the game, the Night’s Watch oath was displayed and many fans swore their loyalty in unison. It is also worth mentioning that the wall in the outfield actually said “The Wall” across it. Needless to say, the attention to detail was impeccable.
The Staten Island Pinstripe cheerleaders represented house Targaryen and Tyrell. The mascots, Scooter and Red, played “Game of Thrones” games with young fans. There was a joust, a trial by combat with foam swords, a reenactment of the Red Wedding where the mascots were married then chased down with water guns, a white walker relay race, and a cosplay contest.
Cynthia McCloskey, one of CSI’s Hub employees and S.I. Yankee season ticket holder, was surprised by the large turnout.
“If they do more events like this, it could get people to come back,” she said, “This proves they can do it.”
This was a momentous occasion for the Yankees and will hopefully pave the way for similar events in the future.
“And remember…winter is coming,” said Martin before he left the stadium.