From friendly confines of MCU Park to a bookstore near you!
Brooklyn Cyclones skipper Tom Gamboa — who recently announced his retirement after four decades in baseball — dropped a bombshell on Brooklyn Paper Radio this week: he has inked a deal to publish a baseball memoir!
It’ll be co-written with Brooklyn Paper beat reporter David Russell (who had not told us, by the way).
“I said I couldn’t write a paragraph, let alone a book, but I do have a million stories, so he said he’d co-write it,” Gamboa told co-hosts Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Daily News and Vince DiMiceli, editor of The Brooklyn Paper.
One of the stories? Remember that time in 2002 when he was a first base coach for the Kansas City Royals and suddenly two drunk Chicago White Sox fans leaped onto the field and started pummeling him? To this day, Gamboa doesn’t know why he was the target of the Chisox anger — but the story will be in there when the book hits stands in April.
“David convinced me that even though I’m one of the no-names in baseball that people will want to read it,” Gamboa said. “And he got the deal so he was right. We have 18 chapters done.”
DiMiceli observed, “Gamby has written the book on baseball — he did it!”
Kuntzman vowed to host the book party.
The irony, of course, is that the Cyclones just had one of their worst seasons in their 15-year history, going 37-39 and finishing in third place in the New York-Penn League’s McNamara Division. Overall, Gamboa was 117-110 in his three years running Coney Island’s ultimate sideshow.
Also in a broad-ranging interview, the famously foul-mouthed and loose-lipped manager revealed:
• He doesn’t think former New York Jet retread Tim Tebow has much of a shot in baseball, despite being signed last week by the Mets with hopes of playing for the Cyclones by 2017.
“I’m sure the fans are hoping he’ll be in Brooklyn,” Gamboa said diplomatically before dispensing with tact to say what he really felt — “I know he’s a nationally known name, but baseball is a hard game, even for people who play it all the time, year-round. To think that at 29, he’s going to convert to baseball from football, no matter what kind of athlete he is, I don’t think he has any idea what kind of an uphill battle it will be. As good an athlete Michael Jordan was, he found it unbelievably hard to have any success in baseball. It’s a nice PR thing, but it’s an uphill battle from day one.”
DiMiceli reminded Gamboa that Tebow intends to be a football announcer on weekends rather than play baseball.
“Well, it’s often been said, ‘Keep your day job,’ ” Gamboa said, whereupon DiMiceli repeated the line and said it would be a suitable headline for this story (was it? See above).
• Why he got thrown out in his very last game in Brooklyn, as his team was clinging to a thin hope of finishing .500.
“The people who know me know that I’m not an Earl Weaver showman,” he said. “But the one thing I will not take is being lied to.”
Lied to? Was he? You be the judge.
The game — meaningless in the standings, except for the Cyclones’ quest to avoid a losing season — was tied and our Boys of Summer had a runner on base when Blake Tiberi topped a ball up the first-base line.
“The pitcher made a blind swipe to get him, but I was in the dugout and clearly saw daylight — and so did the home plate umpire who made the safe call, which was the right call,” Gamboa said. “But the Yankees said they made the tag, so that created some doubt, so the home plate umpire asked the field umpire, who was between second and third, and he said he saw a tag, and they reversed it. That’s when the field umpire said to me, ‘I clearly saw the tag.’ I said, ‘You’re going to lie to me? Me and the home plate umpire were both closer to it than you.’ That’s when all hell broke out because they knew they were wrong and I said, ‘I’m not leaving until you reverse this call.’”
Well, the umps did not, and tossed Gamboa instead. He screamed, “You are f———- me up the a–” at the umps, the final coda in a legendary baseball career.
• His love for New York, mostly for the culture of old Broadway.
“Way back to my major league days with the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago Cubs, I was always happy to get a day off in New York to go see a show,” he said, recalling his first time in a Broadway house seeing “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” and “Annie Get Your Gun.”
“I’ve gotten addicted to it,” he added. “You may take it for granted, but I don’t. Last Wednesday, I did a double-header. I saw, ‘Get on Your Feet,’ the story of Gloria Estefan, a wonderful show, and ‘Cagney.’ Being a non-cultured guy, New York has helped to culture me. These three years with the Cyclones, I’ve seen 16 shows.”
• He regrets that he did not win a title — and he ended his ride on these Cyclones with his only losing record.
“I’m surprised we didn’t hit better,” he said. “It was a very disappointing season. We finished last in hitting in a 14-team league. But it’s a credit to the pitching staff and the defense that we had a chance to finish .500. I saw an amazing stat that in 35 of our 76 games, we scored two runs or less.”
Kuntzman pointed out to Gamboa, “That’s not an amazing stat. That’s the opposite of an amazing stat.”
“Well,” Gamboa added, “it’s amazing to be in a position to finish .500 with a stat like that. We had an abundance of pitching talent.”
• That he thinks first-baseman Peter Alonso (.321 with 5 home runs and 12 doubles in just 30 games) and center-fielder Desmond Lindsay (.297) are the only members of the Cyclones class of 2016 who will make the big leagues.
“Lindsay is a five-tool player,” Gamboa said. “And Alonso is an impact guy. He reminds me of Mike Napoli from the Angels. I told them he was an impact bat … but they let him get away. And success has followed him. I see Alonso that kind of player.”
•He spent his years in Brooklyn in a “Donald Trump apartment” in and around Coney Island — but it did not make him politically active one way or the other.
“I’m not up to speed on the political agenda,” he said. “I’ve never been much for politics. My life revolves around my kids, baseball, and golf.”
DiMiceli and Kuntzman reminded Gamboa that he was our “second favorite” manager of all time (behind Wally Backman, but you knew that!), but that they would miss him a great deal.
“I will miss you guys, too,” he said. “And also the Brooklyn fans who treated us so well. I leave here with great memories.”
Brooklyn Paper radio is broadcast live every Thursday at 4:45 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, right here on Brook