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September 25, 2004 / Sports / Brooklyn Cyclones / The Play’s the Thing

…and the ‘Clonie’ goes to…

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The entertainment industry has four prestigious awards: the Oscar, the Tony, the Emmy and the Clonie. The first three of the aforementioned awards are internationally known, but the Clonie, still known more in Bensonhurst than in Brussels, has a developing cachet of its own.

And if you think the goings-on at Keyspan Park don’t qualify as entertainment, loosen up a little. Many Brooklyn fans feel that the action at Keyspan makes it the best show in town.

The Clonie Awards were originated by former Brooklyn Papers columnist Gersh Kuntzman, who determined the award winners for the first three Cyclones seasons.

This year, in Kuntzman’s absence, there was a hue and cry for the awards to be re-named the Gersh Awards, but when it was determined that the hue and cry for the re-naming of the awards came solely from Kuntzman himself, an editorial junta of The Brooklyn Papers decided that the awards would remain Clonies.

And so, without undue ado, the envelopes please.

Alhaji Turay Personality Award: This award is named after the Cyclones outfielder from the 2002 season. After a 2001 season in which the Brooklyn fans fell in love with their team and their fan-friendly, gentlemanly behavior, Turay was a breath of fresh air for fans accustomed to more uncivil responses. Turay’s actions were never playful jokes, but were calculated meanness of a bizarre nature.

For instance, when a young fan asked Turay to sign a baseball, he signed it “Tom Hanks,” ruining the boy’s collection of Cyclones’ autographs on the ball.

Turay would deny to visiting team reporters that he was, in fact, himself, and he would point to another ball player and direct the reporters there.

Thankfully, there are no nominees of the 2004 Cyclones deserving of the Alhaji Turay Personality Award because these Cyclones were fan friendly guys, so Turay, who finished the 2004 season playing for the Mets farm team at Port St. Lucie, wins his own award in absentia.

Should the Mets ever trade Turay, the tears in Brooklyn will flow like granite.

The Good Guy Award: The nominees are the entire 2004 squad. The players signed thousands of autographs and chatted often with the fans. Manager Tony Tijerina was a good guy to fans and reporters, as were his cordial coaches Donovan Mitchell and Hector Berrios, and trainer Ruben Barrera.

But the winner of the award is Derran Watts, nicknamed “The Deacon” by radio announcer Warner Fusselle for his eloquence and elegance. Whether on or off the field, “The Deacon” demonstrated quiet leadership and concern for others. Watts had his ups and downs in the season, as he was an early batting leader on the team, then hit a slump and had an injury and was sent to Capital City, then back to Brooklyn. Through it all, Watts was a tough competitor and a gentleman to all.

Ross Peeples Pane of Glass Award: By acclaim to Evan MacLane.

Ross Peeples was the left-handed pitcher from Georgia who could not, figuratively, break a pane of glass with his 85-mile-an-hour fastball, yet had great control and a record of 9-3 with an ERA of 1.46 during the Cyclones’ inaugural season.

MacLane, the left-hander from California, reminds many observers of the smooth-throwing Peeples. While he threw harder than Peeples — sometimes reaching 89 to 91 miles an hour with his fastball— and had a record of 5-3 at Brooklyn with a 3.16 ERA, he also had great control as he struck out 70 batters and walked only six.

John Toner Tarzan Award: Toner was the muscular outfielder from the Cyclones’ 2001 season who made Tarzan look downright puny.

Nominees for the award are Tyler Davidson and Jim Burt. A tough choice, but Davidson wins the award because at 6-foot-4 he has a 5-inch height advantage over the equally muscular Burt.

Davidson’s theme song when he came to bat at Keyspan was “Welcome to the Jungle,” but it was Davidson’s muscles and not just his theme song that brought Tarzan to mind. Bothered by a bad back for part of the season, he hit only six home runs. If he is healthy, his power output should increase in 2005.

The Jumbo Shrimp Oxymoron Award: By popular acclaim, this award goes to 5-foot-9 Matt Fisher. The second baseman notes, “Even my mother calls me shrimp.”

It’s a commentary on how baseball players have gotten taller over the years that Fisher’s height is the same as the average height of these 1950s New York City major league players: 5-foot-7 Sandy Amoros, 5-foot-8 Yogi Berra, 5-foot-9 Roy Campanella, 5-foot-10 Willie Mays and 5-foot-11 Mickey Mantle. Some shrimps!

Fisher is not only a shrimp, but to mix food metaphors, he is also one tough cookie as he hangs in at second base as he turns the pivot — he even stayed in the game one time after being cut on the head.

Marconi Award: Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio, but fan Staci Bromberger invented new ways to get radio reception of Cyclones’ broadcasts.

Staci lives in Coney Island, only five blocks from Keyspan Park, but to bring in the signal from WKRB, she uses a boom box radio with the antenna touching a curtain rod. She also sometimes resorts to touching the radio antenna to her parakeet’s cage to bring in a clear signal.

Bullpen Confusion Award: Julio Freitas and Celso Rondon are not twins, but they could claim it. Both right-handed relievers with stocky builds, they win the award because, with their jackets on, identifying them could get pretty confusing. They walk alike and talk alike, both being rather soft-spoken. They even seem to throw alike.

I once thought I was interviewing Rondon for a few minutes before my interviewee informed me that he was actually Freitas. Oops!

Maybe winning the Clonie will make up for the gaucherie.

Statute of Liberty Upraised Throwing Arm Award: Catcher Aaron Hathaway wins — hands up.

Hathaway, a former all-state high school quarterback from Vancouver, Wash., threw out 22 of 39 attempted base stealers in the regular season along with having eight pick-offs. He has the best arm of any professional catcher playing in New York City!

Full Toolbox Award: Outfielder Ambiorix Concepcion.

There are five “tools” for a position player — hitting for average, hitting with power, fielding, throwing and running. Concepcion has each of these tools. Concepcion hit .305 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs this season, good totals, but to judge his “tools” you had to see him play. He made base running mistakes, but the pure speed was abundant. His arm is a cannon. The power is there, and it should improve as this 20-year-old matures.

Concepcion could be on his way to Shea Stadium, a trip of about 15 miles and several years for those who complete the journey, and Concepcion can carry his tools with him as he goes up the ladder.

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