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Brooklyn’s baseball history on display

The Natural?

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Time is running out on the Cyclones’ season, which means time is running out on a easy way to enjoy Brooklyn’s baseball history.

A visit to the Brooklyn Baseball Gallery, located in Keyspan Park, just to the right of the main entrance, allows you to do just that.

The Gallery houses displays from all eras of Brooklyn baseball, from pre-Civil War to the present. Included at The Gallery is the Brooklyn Dodger Baseball Hall of Fame collection, formerly housed at the Brooklyn Historical Society, as well as other items.

In a space of about 30 by 100 feet, the Gallery houses many displays. Certain exhibits are permanent, such as the time line of Brooklyn baseball; other exhibits are changed every few months.

When a visitor enters the Gallery, they do so on a rug colored like an infield. Starting at “home plate,” a visitor appropriately notices catching equipment, particularly Mickey Owen’s glove from the 1941 World Series in which Owen failed to catch a ninth-inning third strike, allowing a New York Yankees rally to win the game.

The timeline that features Brooklyn history such as the Brooklyn Atlantics, Brooklyn Excelsiors and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms. There is mention of Candy Cummings, inventor of the curveball and of Henry Chadwick, a Brooklyn newspaper writer credited with inventing the box score.

Heading down the “first base line,” a visitor will see bats of Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, etc. A little after “second base” are two seats from Ebbets Field and near “the pitcher’s mound” are lots of Brooklyn Dodger photos, some Brooklyn Dodger baseball cards, and equipment.

Some old Dodger uniform parts, like Johnny Podres’ jersey from the final game of the 1955 World Series, when he defeated the New York Yankees to win Brooklyn’s only championship, are on display as well.

There are also photos galore, from the Brooklyn amateur teams of the 1800s to the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1900s to the modern day Cyclones. Along the “third base line” is a whole exhibit just on the Cyclones’ inaugural season.

An entire wall display is dedicated to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947.

In a separate space in the rear of the Gallery is a screening room that shows continuous baseball movies, and that during

Cyclones’ games shows simulcasts of the ongoing game.

The museum is relatively small, a number of the displays are of the quality of displays found at the national Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

The Brooklyn Baseball Gallery is open all year, but after the Cyclones’ baseball season, it is open to the public by appointment only. During the baseball season, it is open each weekday from 12:30 pm to 5 pm, and on game days from 12:30 until one hour after the game. There is a $1 admission for everyone, except children under six, who are admitted free.

The Gallery is also available for school trips and for private parties.

To contact the Brooklyn Baseball Gallery call the Cyclones’ at (718) 449-8497 or contact Anna Isaacson, the director of The Gallery at Anna@Brooklyncyclones.com.

The Natural?

At the tail end of batting practice, a man of average build, seeming to be in his thirties, was standing near the Cyclones’ batting cage. He was dressed in casual business clothes. He grabbed a bat and went into the cage. Cyclones’ manager Tim Teufel was on the mound, and Teufel proceeded to pitch.

The civilian took his first swing and hit a line drive. He hit most of the other balls well, continuing to swing away against Teufel. After about a dozen swings, the man hit the ball high to left field and the ball flew over the left field fence, a batting practice home run, just to the left of the Gargiulo’s sign.

Having the dramatic sense of knowing when to quit, the man left the batting cage.

It turns out he had once played in the New York-Penn League as a catcher with the Jamestown Expos.

He was Jeff Wilpon, son of Fred Wilpon, and owner of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Scrappy Doo

Cafaro Field, home of the Mahoning Valley (Ohio) Scrappers, may be the only stadium in professional baseball to charge you for parking — even if you don’t use the ball field’s lot.

The yard is located right next to a shopping center which, of course, has it’s own parking lot. So some fans took to parking in that lot for free and then walking to the stadium. Tired of losing parking fees, the team decided to do something about it.

So now, fans are charged two dollars per person to walk into the stadium parking lot, which they must do in order to see the game.

The Scrappers’ nickname, by the way, comes from the area miners who were known to fight, or “scrap,” a bit. As far as we know, the weird parking lot fee hasn’t caused any “scraps” just yet.

Hudson Valley trip

Patrick Witt, the Cyclone fan who organizes bus trips for Peggy O’Neill’s restaurant in Coney Island, has one more trip planned for Cyclones fans to see their team on the road.

It appears as if the playoff race for the Cyclones will be going down to the wire, and Patrick has a bus trip scheduled for Labor Day, Sept. 1, when the Cyclones visit the Hudson Valley Renegades.

The bus will depart from Peggy O’Neill’s, on Surf Avenue at Keyspan Park, at 10 am. The bus should get to the game at about 12:30 pm for the 2 pm start.

Included in the price of $40 is the bus ride, a ticket for the game, and an all-you-can-eat lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, coleslaw and beverages.

If fans want to drive to the game on their own, the price is $20 for the game ticket and lunch.

Those interested in attending the trip with Peggy O’Neill’s group should call Patrick Witt at (917) 815-1392.

A little rest?

After Sunday evening’s game in New Jersey — the last game of a seven game road trip — the Cyclones finally returned home to Brooklyn. They arrived at Keyspan at around 11 pm and at their dorms in Brooklyn Polytechnic University at around midnight.

Finally, they could get some rest, right? Not so fast.

It seems that the dorms were about to be inhabited again by students, and the Cyclones had to be packed up in the morning and out of the dorms by noon.

So instead of getting some much-needed sleep, the team had to be up early to pack their belongings into a U-Haul truck that would go to Keyspan and then to a hotel on Staten Island — since the team’s plan to stay at The Comfort Inn in Brooklyn hit a temporary booking snag. So the suddenly homeless Cyclones arrived at Keyspan at around 12:30 pm.

But the way they played after the long night, well, to paraphrase the remarks of a noted boxer, “They shoulda stood in bed,” as they lost 11-5.

Playoff tickets

Playoff tickets will go on sale Monday, Sept. 1 at 9 am at the Keyspan Park box office and via phone at (718) 507-TIXX (applicable phone service charges apply). Ticket availability will be limited. The Cyclones have sold out all 38 home games at Keyspan Park this season so demand for playoff tickets is expected to be high.

September 1 , 2003 issue  

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