Clones welcomes back Duke

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How good are Brooklyn fans? So good, according to the one and only Duke Snider, that they’ll make mental mistakes in a beloved player’s favor.

“Just now, I ran into a guy who said, ‘Duke, I remember seeing you go 5-for-5.’ Well, I never went 5-for-5. Obviously, we’ve all become better in their minds.”

In Snider’s case, that’s not easy. The seven-time all-star, who hit 407 career homers and seemed to always be in the top 10 in hitting in the National League, received a hero’s welcome at Keyspan Park on Wendnesday night.

Snider was the star attraction on a night that featured other famed Dodgers Al Gionfriddo (with his “1947 — The Catch” hat), Tommy Holms (who struck out only nine times the year he won the batting title), and pitchers Johnny Podres and Ralph Branca.

While many Cyclones — who’s parents were kids when Snider ended his career with the 1963 Mets — could be forgiven for not knowing all the details of his illustrious career, outfielder John Toner was visibly awed.

“For any baseball fan, this is like seeing Mantle or DiMaggio,” said Toner, who kept his distance. “I wouldn’t even know what to say to a guy like that. It’s like meeting [Pearl Jam lead singer] Eddie Vedder. What would I say to Eddie Vedder?”

How hard can it be? He never went 5-for-5 either.

Museum muses

Blake Whealy was impressed by the bat Bobby Thompson used to hit the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” Bobby Malek was drawn to the original cornerstone of Ebbets Field.

Corey Ragsdale had a laugh over an old flat-faced baseball bat that players once used for bunting.

These three Cyclone players, plus Joe Jiannetti and Jay Caligiuri, took advantage of a rare morning off to check out the American Museum of Natural History’s popular “Baseball As America” exhibit earlier this week.

The exhibit, organized by the Baseball Hall of Fame, is meant to illustrate how deeply our beloved game is ingrained into our culture and society. For ballplayers at the lowest level of the minor leagues, that can be a little overwhelming.

“You could see that it was powerful from their reactions to some of the memorabilia there,” said Cyclones spokesman Dave Campanaro, who accompanied his players. “They were really impressed by things like Bobby Thompson’s bat and the Ebbets Field cornerstone.”

In addition to placing themselves in baseball’s long historical context and playing catch with a few kids, the five Cyclones got to sample hot dogs from several major league parks, another popular part of the museum’s exhibit.

Hot dogs?!

If he had known there would be hot dogs, pitcher (and devoted frankophile) Kevin Deaton would have certainly tagged along.

Let’s Play Two

Last week’s rainout against the Hudson Valley Renegades will be made up as a rare day-night doubleheader on Friday, Aug. 16.

The makeup game will be played at noon and the regularly scheduled contest will be at 7 pm.

Fans will need separate tickets for both games (real doubleheaders have gone the way of the 10-cent subway token).

What about Dave?

Cyclones manager Howard Johnson — and two, as-yet-unidentified players — will be signing copies of the team’s self-published coffee-table book, “Return to Glory,” on Saturday, July 27, at Keyspan Park from noon to 1:30 pm.

The book, actually written by Cyclones media relations manager Dave Campanaro, is ostensibly about the birth of the Cyclones last year, but also puts the team in the context of more than 100 years of baseball in Brooklyn.

Word is that despite good reviews, the book isn’t selling too well at its price of $15.

No wonder the team is calling out the big gun — HoJo — for a high-profile boost.

Comings & goings

The Cyclones are being reinvented on the fly this season.

Here are the latest player movements: Popular infielders Andres Rodriguez and Edgar Rodriguez were both sent up to the Mets Class-A affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina. Tyler Beuerlein, a Cyclone from last season who is still nursing a sore arm, was sent down to Kingsport in the rookie league for more playing time.

Catcher Zach Clements and pitcher Robert Paulk were also sent down.

New Cyclones include Wisconsinite Joe Hietpas (down from Columbia) and pitchers Jayson Weir (up from Kingsport) and Ken Chenard (a rehab assignment from the Class-A squad in Port St. Lucie).

July 29, 2002 issue  

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