Three women in big hair and flowered dresses—PLUS another in jeans—convulsed on the grass near third base.Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star” pumped through the speakers of the Brooklyn Cyclones’ minor league stadium for the world’s most herky-jerky dance-off. They writhed and spasmed as if their lives depended on it.And this was exactly what the sold-out crowd of 7,500 spectators had come for. On July 5, 2014, the team’s stadium—nestled within Coney Island’s boardwalk and hot dog stands—became its own carnivalesque attraction.A banner at the entrance to the field rebranded it “Vandelay Industries Park” for the day.The first three thousand fans through the gate got bobblehead dolls that looked like former Mets player Keith Hernandez. There were reports of people later selling them for up to $60 to other desperate fans.(A year later they were selling for up to $100 via online auction sites.)Inside, a lanky seventy-one-year-old with a backward baseball cap over his gray curls hocked ASSMAN license plates and MASTER OF MY DOMAIN sweatshirts.Among the many who threw out “first” pitches: an importer/exporter, postal workers, architects, a latex salesman, and a New York resident named George Costanza.
It was appreciation night, and it was packed with activities that brought the show’s trademark bouillabaisse of cultural references and inside jokes to life.The aspiring Elaines were reenacting the 1996 episode in which Elaine—the only woman among the four main characters, and the only one with any clear career ambition—loses the respect of her employees when she dances absurdly at a work function.Vandelay Industries is the company that George, the balding schlub with a deficit of ambition, pretends to work for.Keith Hernandez famously played himself in a 1992 episode, becoming a sore point between Jerry, the show’s main character, and Elaine, who ends up dating Jerry’s longtime idol.
Never mind that this show went off the air sixteen years earlier.
The game sold out weeks in advance, and the vast majority of the crowd was not there for baseball.