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Park Sloper beats Clones

Brooklyn native Larry King, 72, with son Chance, 7, at Keyspan park on June 29. Marty Bromberger

Park Slope native Adam Ottavino made a triumphant return to Brooklyn on Sunday, July 9, throwing six scoreless innings for the State College Spikes.

Ottavino grew up a block from Prospect Park and played there and at the Parade Grounds with the Youth Council League and later for the Berkeley Carroll HS team.

His father told The Brooklyn Papers that the right-hander always wanted to be a baseball player.

“If he wanted to do opera, he would have been hanging around fat women with horns,” said John Ottavino, an actor.

“But he wanted to play baseball, so that’s what he did.”

Ottavino did it well enough to be picked in the first round of the 2006 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ottavino won’t be tormenting the Cyclones for too long: He’s allowed only five hits in 19.2 innings, and has a 2–0 record with a 0.00 ERA.

In the game against the Cyclones, Ottavino didn’t let his hundreds of hometown supporters make him nervous.

“Before the game, it did seem a little surreal to be pitching at Keyspan,” he said. “But once the game started, I just focused on the batters.”

Cyclones’ manager George Greer was impressed.

“He has the makings of a good prospect,” he said.

Ottavino’s teammates will miss him when he’s promoted — especially on those Brooklyn road trips. “I took some of the guys to dinner at Spumoni Gardens,” said Ottavino. — Shakespeare

Greer meter report

After an 0–7 start, The Brooklyn Papers created the “Greer-ometer” to accurately reflect the job status of Cyclones manager George Greer. The Cyclones have improved to 8–13, but still trail the NY–Penn League’s McNamara Division by 6 games. Of course, minor-league skippers are rarely fired during the season, but with the Cyclones this lethargic, you never know. This week’s ruling? Greer’s job remains safe.

Floyd’s a Cyclone

The setting may have been minor league, but the swings were big league all the way as Mets star Cliff Floyd played for the Cyclones on June 29 in a rehab appearance.

Floyd became the sixth Met —after Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Tom Martin, Joe McEwing, Mike Stanton and infielder Kaz Matsui — to rehab with the Brooks.

Some rehab: Floyd played left field for six innings and went 0–2, hitting into a double play and striking out. But he did manage a walk.

After the game, Floyd, who is still nursing a severely sprained left ankle, said minor-league pitching was hard to get used to.

“These guys throw harder, they just don’t know where it’s going,” he said.

He also praised Cyclones starter Tobi Stoner and Ironbird hurler Jeffrey Moore, who pitched six shutout innings in relief.

“What I saw tonight, they have legitimate shots [at the major leagues],” explained the one-night Cyclone.

Against Moore, Floyd was clearly swinging for the fences, but missed on three straight fastballs from the flame-thrower.

New York Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd during his June 29 rehab stint with the Cyclones.

Don Byrnes

“My swings were a little long,” he admitted.

But the fans were thrilled.

“Those last three swings were Ruthian,” said Cyclones announcer Warner Fusselle.

And in keeping with rehab tradition, Floyd bought his one-night teammates a post-game pasta spread. — Ed Shakespeare and Nick Pauly

A King visits Keyspan

Talk show host Larry King returned to Brooklyn for a nostalgic visit on June 29.

“My son [Chance] and I went back to where Ebbets Field was and I sang ‘There Used to Be a Ballpark’ for him,” said King.

The CNN yakker also showed off his old high school, Lafayette and took his 7-year-old son to Coney Island’s batting cage.

“Chance plays tee ball in California and his favorite player is Jeff Kent, who gave him one of his bats,” King said.

The Brooklyn heritage tour ended with a Cyclones game, where Chance took some tossed grounders behind the Keyspan batting cage.

Later, King could be heard rooting for the Cyclones and doing a play-by-play for his son on a double play. — Shakespeare

Hooray for the hora

The much-hyped “World’s Largest Hora” on June 10 should have been billed as the “World’s Largest Hora … at Keyspan Park … this year.”

The Cyclones promotional team hoped to break its 2005 mark of having 144 people participate in the ceremonial Jewish circle dance (can you say, “Aveinu shalom alachem!”?), but only a paltry 67 — including the Cyclones Beach Bum dancers — turned out.

And what a pathetic hora it was! As the dancers kicked off, their ring immediately snapped into pieces, thanks to some fans not knowing which direction the circle was supposed to turn. The group never fully recovered. — Nick Pauly

Setting them off

Grady Hinchman comes set. And the pitch — explosive!

Cyclones reliever Hinchman was on the mound late in the game on June 30 when Astroland’s weekly firework spectacular began without warning.

Cyclones fielders looked stunned. Aberdeen Ironbird batters looked shell-shocked. Fans — who had been lulled into complacency by a scoreless tie — were temporarily revived.

Although in year’s past, Friday night home games have been temporarily suspended during the fireworks, both managers agreed to keep playing, despite the rocket’s red glare. The show lasted most of the 11th inning. Neither team managed to get a baserunner during the fusillade, but Jon Malo claimed that the players had no problem focusing on the little white ball, despite the bombs bursting in air just beyond the centerfield fence.

“The batter’s eye did a great job of blocking them out,” he said.

Then again, Malo may simply have a deeper appreciation for fireworks. After all, it was his hit that won the game for the Cyclones in the bottom of the 15th.

Fireworks, indeed. — Pauly

June 15, 2006 issue  

Sloper Adam Ottavino of the State College Spikes.
The Brooklyn Papers / Gary Thomas

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