Why One Major League Pitcher Got A Side Gig On Game Of Thrones

game of thrones dragon

Most people seeking an acting gig on Game of Thrones don't tend to have any forms of ulterior motives beyond just appearing on one of TV's biggest hits. But furthering an acting career is not the reason why Major League Baseball pitcher and occasional TV extra Noah Syndergaard flew across the world to be an extra in Season 7 of the HBO epic. He did it, in part, because he's on a mission to make baseball as viral as other sports. Also, he really, really loves the show.

Noah Syndergaard, who goes by the nickname Thor, debuted his killer pitching arm for the New York Mets back in 2015, and he rather quickly attained a reputation for being someone to watch, both on the field and off. (He debuted in scripted TV last year for Kevin Can Wait's Halloween episode.) Syndergaard has an active social media presence, and he's got a similar over-arching plan to that of fellow MLBer Bryce Harper (of the Washington Nationals), who started the "Make Baseball Fun Again" campaign to draw the kind of rabid and widespread attention that baseball used to get, as well as what other sports now achieve. And Syndergaard is just fine with putting himself out there to make it happen, which includes showing up in the background (and possibly dying) of one of the most-watched shows on TV.

While it's not clear exactly how the connection was made between Noah Syndergaard and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, but it resulted in the talented pitcher flying out to Spain in November 2016 to film for an episode as an extra. Quite the fitting time for Syndergaard to have shown off his skills in front of the camera, too, since the final two Game of Thrones seasons scheduled production shoots for later in the year, to match up with the Winter arrival within the narrative. Had it been a couple of months earlier, to match up with the usual spring premiere, Syndergaard would have probably been too busy with his day job to visit Westeros.

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While the spring training season got in the way of Noah Syndergaard popping up during Discovery's Shark Week festivities, we will likely see him doing these kinds of things more often when it's allowable. He really wants to engage more people that aren't necessarily baseball fans, as well as drawing more celebrity influence. Here's how he put it to the New York Post.

You see that a lot in basketball. In basketball, it's kind of going crazy in terms of who they draw to the games as far as celebrities and how many people actually follow basketball. You look at basketball players: LeBron James. He's bigger than the Cleveland Cavaliers. You look at Instagram, on social media, you can see it there. [Bryce] Harper's got a million followers or so on Instagram, but LeBron James has [over 28] million? I'd like to see baseball become something more like that.

If someone is looking to draw millions of people to a specific topic, one can do worse than Game of Thrones, which is still keeping fans in the dark for what we can expect to see in Season 7. At least we know we can expect to see the great Jim Broadbent in a pretty specific role, and that things aren't looking so lovely for Bran. And that Ian McShaneisn't super-polite to fans.

Game of Thrones will return to HBO at some point later this year, and the wait has already felt like sitting through a baseball game with 10,000 extra innings. Head to our midseason premiere schedule in the meantime to see what you can catch up with before that time gets here.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.