Cyclone Over Brooklyn
scant few months back, when the Cyclones were not even born yet,
everyone who’s anyone in (and outside of) baseball was already
predicting a sorrowfully brief lifespan for Brooklyn’s novice
baseball team. “Minor league baseball is nothing,” the theory
went. “Especially after what the Dodgers did–leaving Brooklyn
high and dry 44 years ago–Brooklyn deserves a major league team.”
Of course, the chattering nabobs of negativity couldn’t have been
more wrong. The Cyclones have not only been a near-unbelievable
New York success story, but their success can be directly derived
from the very “smallness” that was so decried.
The recipe was simple: take $38 million in public money, build
a homey ballpark so charming it makes Yankee Stadium look like
a soulless mausoleum, add a dash of fan-friendly nostalgia, and
season all of that with a team of hard-hitting, baby-faced kids
who run out every play as if their lives depended on it.
They built beautiful KeySpan Park and the fans came in record
numbers with an all-time New York-Penn League high: 290,000 for
37 home dates. As the Cyclones took a nonstop joyride to the championship
in their very first year, it’s been nothing less than one big
continuous party in Brooklyn.
was so furious with (Dodger owner) Walter O’Malley, I swore that
professional baseball would never take a dime of my money again,”
said inveterate Brooklynite Irwin Brandon, who has not seen a
professional baseball game since 1957. Yet there he was, waiving
a huge Cyclones flag in the stands during the second playoff game
against the Staten Island Yankees. “But this is fun. This is the
way I remember baseball. And, I still wouldn’t go to a major league
game, believe me.”
just an indescribable feeling in this stadium, one that’s just
right,” said Cameron Fleming, a fan in his 30’s. “It’s like destiny:
Brooklyn missed baseball – and baseball came home to Brooklyn.
Plus, it’s clean, safe, and completely kid–friendly. I’ve got
four of them little guys here; look around, seven out of every
ten fans here is a kid.”
The Cyclones embraced the community as well, especially the children.
The team ran a “joint program with the Public Library” all summer,
issuing 75,000 specialized library cards with the Cyclones logo.
“Every single day during the season, we have had several Cyclone
players go to a library or a public school to speak to the kids
about the importance of reading and the importance of staying
in school,” said the team’s Community Director Gary Perrone. One
hundred tickets have been given away to four different Brooklyn
high schools for every game as well. And, for their upcoming second
season, the team is already planning feverishly to step up the
going to come up with a specific incentive system for prizes,”
Perrone said. “Along the lines of, ‘the better your school attendance,
the better grades you receive, the more Cyclone prizes you’ll
be able to get’.”
He added, “We are very much aware of the fact that the overwhelming
majority of our fans are little kids and students. So we will
do everything to be there for them, and to be a positive influence
on them, as an organization and as a team.”
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