Hearing the crack of a baseball bat as it hits a home run, biting into a juicy hot dog, and watching Scooter the Holy Cow dance on the field will be missed sensations at Richmond County Ballpark next spring as the twenty-year run of the Staten Island Yankees comes to an end. The little-known Staten Island team is one of four that have been cut by the New York Yankees in a consolidation of their minor league system, leaving the future of the St. George ballpark up in the air.
The loss of the the Staten Island Yankees leaves New York City with just one minor league baseball team, the Mets affiliated Brooklyn Cyclones. The city has had many short-lived baseball teams throughout its history, including teams sponsored by the subway system. New Yorkers are also no strangers to having baseball teams leave, as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants did in 1957.
The announcement from the Yankees came as a shock to the local team. In a statement on Twitter, the Staten Island Yankees noted that they “made every effort to accommodate MLB and the Yankees’ requirements” but were “shocked at the developments from this past weekend, and we believe what has happened to our organization is unacceptable.’ The team says it was “unaware of the final decision and learned about it by reading the statement of the Yankees on social media.” The Covid-19 pandemic, which canceled the latest baseball season, exacerbates the blow.
The Staten Island Yankees formed in 1999, and the City of New York built their stadium in 2001. Some of Major League Baseball’s biggest stars, including Robinson Cano, Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner, and Gary Sanchez, got their start at the waterfront stadium. The ballpark also serves as the Wagner College Seahawks baseball team’s home field and hosts several local high school and youth teams. Before the pandemic, the ballpark hosted concerts, wrestling matches, food and drink festivals, marathons, community events, and other local baseball teams.
Richmond County Ballpark sits in the center of the revitalization of St. George’s waterfront, right next to the new Empire Outlets shopping center and a few blocks from the historic St. George Theater. The Staten Island Ferry is just a ten-minute walk away, allowing for easy transportation from Manhattan and the waterfront location offers views of the Manhattan skyline. Despite those amenities, the 7,171-seat ballpark saw low game attendance. The twenty-year-old stadium is also in need of many upgrades, including the installation of a turf field.
The Yankees will turn their focus from Staten Island to the Hudson Valley, where their new minor league team, the Renegades, play. The Staten Island Yankees say they will look for alternative ways to bring baseball back to Staten Island and make the best choices for the benefit of the community.