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Cyclones gear up for 2021 season after minor league baseball shakeup

The Cyclones celebrated winning the New York Penn League title in 2019 — the last championship before the league was disbanded.
Jon Farina

Baseball is returning to Brooklyn. 

After more than 600 days and a pandemic-induced shakeup that changed the makeup of Minor League Baseball, the Brooklyn Cyclones will play their first home game since 2019 on May 18 at MCU Park in Coney Island, when they take on the Hudson Valley Renegades. 

It will be the first game the Baby Bums have played since winning the 2019 New York Penn League Championship — after which the stately league, which had operated since 1939, was dissolved.

The Cyclones, a part of the New York Mets organization, were upgraded from a low A short season team to a high A East team, which will see them play a full 120 game season of baseball, after playing 76 game seasons since their inception. The Clones fared better than many other minor league teams during the chaotic restructuring of the league. 42 minor league teams — including the Cyclones’ former rivals the Staten Island Yankees — lost their affiliation with Major League Baseball, leaving 42 towns across America with empty ballparks. 

The Cyclones, for their part, say they’re excited to finally get back on the field after walking away as champions in 2019. 

“It’s going to be exciting,” Cyclones manager Ed Blankmeyer, who was hired in January 2020, said during an April 29 media availability. “It’s been quite some time. These guys are biting at the bit, I’m excited, my coaching staff is excited.”

The team will have the chance to play for fans at reduced capacity in the Surf Avenue stadium when the season starts in May. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on April 29 that the city is aiming to fully reopen by July 1, meaning stadiums could be packed to the brim by then. 

For the Cyclones, this means a return to what has become a staple of Brooklyn summers since the team’s inception in 2001 — and a return to the stands for the team’s superfans. 

“Small town baseball, it’s the fabric of the United States, it’s a culture,” Blankmeyer said. “These people look forward to it, it’s a part of their lives, and they support that particular franchise. Our franchise in Brooklyn has rabid fans, they love the players, love the organization, and they are dying for minor league baseball.” 

“To have an opportunity to see these young kids develop, the future players of Major League Baseball, it’s exciting,” he added. 

While the Cyclones roster is yet to be released, it is expected that former Cyclones third baseman Brett Baty and pitcher Matt Allan, members of the championship team, will be returning to the lineup in its high A incarnation. 

Baty said he looks forward to returning to the beachfront ballpark. 

“I’m super excited to get back there, I love that park, it’s just a great atmosphere,” the third baseman said. “The fans are amazing, and playing there in 2019 is going to really help me out playing this year again, so I’m super excited to get going.”

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