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On February 6th, a Broadway play by the name of “Bronx Bombers” opened at Circle in the Square Theatre. As you can probably infer, this play is about the New York Yankees.
The play, written and directed by Eric Simonson, is an exploration and celebration of that ineffable Yankee mystique. Yogi Berra (played by “Bosom Buddy” Peter Scolari) is the play’s central character, and the likes of Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, Lou Gehrig, Elston Howard, Joe Dimaggio, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter also play key roles.
Reviews thus far have been generally positive, but Broadway tickets don’t sell themselves (not yet, anyway, as the advent of ticket sentience is likely decades away). Among myriad marketing efforts, those promoting the show have reached out to local Minor League teams and set up special nights at the theater for front office and fans. Veteran sports PR executive Joe Favorito has been helping to coordinate these efforts, and he explains that “we have set up co-promotions where season [ticket holders] get discount tickets for a special night. The night includes a chance to meet the cast and in turn we will do some special events with our cast at ballparks this summer.”
Favorito is still coordinating with some of the Minor League teams in the area, but two who have already sent their fans to the theater are the Trenton Thunder and Staten Island Yankees. Both are Yankees affiliated, but the SI Yanks were a particularly good fit considering that they are based in NYC and known colloquially as “The Baby Bombers.”
Here’s Staten Island mascot “Scooter the Holy Cow” mingling in the lobby:
In this shot, SI Yanks director of entertainment Michael Katz directs theater attendees to the entertainment that can be found at Staten Island Yankees games.
This seems like a cool way to engage with and reward loyal MiLB team ticket holders, while also promoting the team to a baseball-friendly audience. What’s not to love?
On a personal level, I had the opportunity to see Bronx Bombers while it was in previews. I’m not a Yankees fan, so I went into it a little skeptical that it would be nothing but a smug and one-dimensional celebration of a team that, quite frankly, has already been celebrated enough. Yankee fans are clearly the target audience, but the show took enough risks as regards structure and setting that I was intrigued throughout. And the performances are across-the-board solid; in addition to Scolari as Yogi I also enjoyed Francois Battiste as a swaggering and imminently fashionable Reggie Jackson and Bill Dawes as a reckless but endearing Mickey Mantle
I didn’t walk out of the theater thinking it was one of the best plays I’d ever seen, and, yes, it is a little schmaltzy and sentimental at times, but overall I’d recommend to anyone whose interests include any sort of overlap between theater and baseball.