Dave Delaware sat in his perch in the stands just to the right of home plate, working himself into a sweat. The diehard Brooklyn Cyclones fan showed no mercy — heckling every single member of the Hudson Valley Renegades who came up to bat, and cheering on every member of the Cyclones.
“Shake it off 23! It doesn’t even matter!” he shouted, his heckles especially audible in the reduced capacity crowd of 1,315, when Cyclones pitcher Jose Butto gave up a two-run home run during the Clones 3-4 home opener loss to Hudson Valley. “We got bats! Let’s get back to work!”
Delaware earned the nickname because he drives up from The Diamond State to catch Cyclones home games, making the two-hour drive multiple times a week out of devotion to the minor league franchise.
“I fell in love with those guys a couple years back when I got my season tickets, when I came up and experienced the beach,” Delaware said. “The organization is top class, there’s no doubt about it.”
Delaware was resuming his super-fandom after a 616-day pandemic-induced shutdown of the Minor League Baseball system, which saw the league shook up and the Clones promoted to a High A full season affiliate of the New York Mets.
The Baby Bums home opener May 18 was the first baseball game played for spectators at the newly renamed Maimonides Park on Surf Avenue since the Cyclones took home the 2019 New York Penn League Championship, the last championship for the stately league before it was dissolved in the reshuffling of the minor leagues — leaving Cyclones devotees with memories to treasure while they bided their time during the summer of 2020.
“Three minutes and 10 seconds of splendor,” said super-fan David Pecoraro, reviewing his cellphone video of the last minutes of the Clones championship game. “Andrew Edwards strikes out Alex Erro. Ballgame over! Series over! Cyclones win!”
After a summer spent sitting on the couch watching the Mets play in an eerily empty Citi Field, Pecoraro, a retired public school teacher nicknamed “The Wolf” among stadium denizens for his wild white beard and mane of hair, getting back to his usual seat behind the home dugout is a homecoming after following the team since its inception in 2001.
“600-odd days since I took the pictures here on championship night,” he said. “You think I’ve been counting the days?”
For fellow day-one fan Ralph Schneider, who has been regularly attending games at the seaside ballpark with his father Larry Schneider since the franchise’s inception in 2001, being back in the stands with his dad is as strong a sign of normalcy that he is yet to see.
“It feels right,” the younger Schneider said. “It’s a symbol that things are returning to somewhat normal, or at least the new normal.”