Living in New York City, the Mets and the Yankees get all of the headlines as far as baseball is concerned – and rightfully so. However if you’re not as big a baseball fan as I am (and if you’re not it’s weird that you’re reading this, but good for you) you may not be aware that both the Mets and the Yankees have minor league affiliates that play right here in NYC. The New York-Penn League, short-season Single A (also known as Low A ball) features both of these teams. The Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones.
The Staten Island Yankees have been in existence since 1999 and played their first two seasons at the College of Staten Island before moving to their current home, The Richmond County Bank Ballpark in 2001. The park sits right on the waterfront and is quite literally a stone’s throw from the Staten Island ferry. As beautiful as Citi Field and Yankee Stadium are you’d be challenged to find a more picturesque view at a ballpark anywhere. Just over the outfield wall is an incredible view of the water as well as the NYC skyline.
The SI Yankees have been champions of the NYPL 6 times. They’ve had a total of 42 players reach the majors. Some notable ones include Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli, Mark Melancon, John Axford, and Ian Kennedy.
The Brooklyn Cyclones were a former affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays and were brought to NYC in 1999, in the same deal that brought the SI Yankees. The team played its 2000 season home games at St. John’s University until their new and current stadium was built. They moved into KeySpan Park at Coney Island (now MCU Park) for the 2001 thus bringing a professional baseball team to the borough of Brooklyn for the first time since the Dodgers moved to L.A. in 1958. They won their first title that year (as an affiliate of the Mets). Over the years they have sent 52 players to the big leagues. Some of their notable alumni include Michael Conforto, Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, Lucas Duda, Scott Kazmir, and Jose Reyes.
The park sits just north of the beach and the ocean. This is great because even on those ridiculously hot summer days you can always feel a nice ocean breeze coming from over the right field wall. The park’s home in Coney Island also give it some distinctive features mainly the famous parachute drop just over the wall in the right field corner and the Thunderbolt roller coaster over the left field wall.
This past week I treated myself to a game at each park. As fun as it is for me to go to a baseball game the main goal was for me to provide you with the ultimate fan experience, if you will.
8.8 SI Yankees vs. Lowell Spinners
On Monday, I ventured over to the stadium to watch the ‘Baby Bombers’ take on the Lowell Spinners (affiliate of the Boston Red Sox). One of the unique things about minor league ball is that there’s always some sort of promotion going on (my first time at this stadium two years ago was ‘bring your dog to the park night’). Monday was no different.
Monday night was Cannoli Apperciation Night and, unless you’re gluten free/dairy free who doesn’t appreciate a good cannoli? They sold limited-edition cannoli hats; and before you ask, yes, I did buy one! Each hat sold came with a voucher for a free cannoli from Aunt Butchie’s of Staten Island.
Among all the hat-buying and cannoli-eating there was a ballgame that took place (and a good one at that). The Yankees sent right-hander Chad Martin to the mound against Lowell’s Josh Pennington. The Yankees grabbed the lead in the bottom of the first and never looked back. First-baseman Drew Bridges hit an RBI single to right field scoring Dom Thompson-Williams who walked to lead off the inning (Thompson scored 3 runs in the game). Right-fielder Timmy Robinson was up next and smacked a solo HR to left field (Bridges was a picked off between first and second). Bridges would go 3 for 4 with 2 RBI on the night. Robinson went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI. Chad Martin pitched well enough the get the win despite 5 BBs. His line was 5 IP, 9 Ks, 2 H, 1 ER. Josh Roeder provided 3 shutout innings out of the bullpen and Chad Taylor came in and shut the door in the 9th. It should also be noted that Nathan Mikloas made an incredible catch in left-center field for the Yankees to end the top of the 6th. The Yankees came out on top 4-1.
8.9 Brooklyn Cyclones vs. Vermont Lake Monsters
The next day I headed over to Coney Island for a matchup against the Oakland A’s short season affiliate. Tuesday night was Joe Torre Bobblehead night. The bobblehead features the Hall of Famer in his Cadets baseball uniform, from his days growing up in the borough. Torre himself made an appearance at the game, managing one of the teams in the celebrity softball game prior to first pitch (I didn’t arrive in time for the softball game).
Harol Gonzalez took to the hill for the Cyclones and provided a masterful 7 innings of work, allowing 0 ER on 4 H and 1 BB. He also struck out 7. Gary Cornish helped complete the shutout with his 6 out save and the Cyclones won 3-0.
The Cyclones kicked off the scoring in the second inning with a 2 RBI single by DH Brandon Brosher. Center-fielder Desmond Lindsay provided the Cyclones 3rd run with a solo HR to lead off the bottom of the 6th.
Here are some more pictures I took over the two nights.