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Fonzie’s link to Cyclones’ past glory

The Brooklyn Paper
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How understated is Cyclones skipper Edgar Alfonzo? He’s the only person who ever led the team to a New York-Penn League championship, yet none of his players seem to even know it.

“Huh, really?” said Lucas Duda, a 21-year-old out of Riverside, Calif. “Funny, he never said anything about that.”

Catcher Steve Malvagna — whose bio says he’s from East Meadow, New York, but whose accent says he’s from Brooklyn, circa 1950 — was similarly uninformed.

“I never knew that,” he said when informed of Fonzie’s epic past. “He’s a good guy though, the guy to lead us to another championsh­ip.”

Malvagna, Duda and other Cyclones were happy to talk about their boss’s workplace demeanor.

“He’s all business when we’re practicing, but once it’s done, it’s a very light environment,’ Malvagna said.

“He’s intense about his coaching, definitely,” added pitcher Dan McDonald. “But the mood is relaxed, too. He’s a great guy.”

As Cyclones manager in the team’s inaugural season, Alfonzo led the team to a 52-24 regular-season record and a phenomal 30-8 record at home. After taking the best-of-three first-round playoff series from the hated Staten Island Yankees, the Clones won the first game of the three-game championship series — but that tourney was halted by the terror attack of Sept. 11. The New York-Penn League named the Cyclones and the Williamsport Crosscutters “co-champions (despite the Clones’ 1-0 series lead).

Of course, he’s been waiting for revenge ever since.

“I feel outstanding to be back,” he told the media hoardes before Opening Day this week. “I wanted to do this again, to manage again. I was being an infield coordinator [in the Mets organization], but it is so much more fun to manage.”

He said he would continue his back-to-basics, aggressive-on-the-basepaths approach — which he showed off in the Opening Night victory on Tuesday, ordering up a hit-and-run with Ender Chavez on first and Will Vogl at the plate. Vogl delivered a textbook single into the gap between first and second — and the Cyclones were soon in the lead.

Naturally, the fans loved it — and so did Fonzie.

“I love how much they [the fans] know the game,” he said. “They yell at you if you do something wrong and they give you a standing ovation if you do something good. So my goal is to keep the Brooklyn fans happy.”

So far, so good.

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