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Epilogue September 15, 2003 While New York City was mourning the second anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11/01, the Cyclone organization and its fans were dealing with a more minor sadness—the team’s championship series loss to the Williamsport Crosscutters. Two years after Brett Kay’s Cyclones had been a game away from winning the New York–Penn League title over the Crosscutters when 9/11 ended the season, and one year after the Year Two Cyclones suffered through a 37–37 season, the new Brett Kays and Ross Peeples, with names like Rashad Parker and Matthew Lindstrom, were trying to gain a measure of redemption. It was not to be, as the Cyclones were swept out of the Williamsport series on September 10. While none of the 2001 Cyclones were a part of this year’s 47–28 regular season and championship runner-up effort, in many ways the scene at KeySpan Park was the same as ever. . . . Despite their mediocre performance on the field, the 2002 Cyclones topped their own 2001 showing and set the short-season Class-A attendance record with 317,124 fans for thirty-eight dates—an average of 8,345 per game. KeySpan remained an ultrapopular place to watch baseball during the successful 2003 season, as 307,383 paying customers attended the thirty-seven dates (rainouts and double-headers affect the number of open dates). KeySpan Park was voted “Best New Ballpark” at the close of 2001 by, and it remains one of the gems of the entire Minor League baseball universe. KeySpan also now has the Brooklyn Baseball Gallery, a well-designed, one-room museum, housed ◆ 181 ◆ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ in the ground floor of the stadium, that has some beautiful old memorabilia . The museum opened during the 2002 season in a ceremony attended by former Brooklyn Dodgers Duke Snider, Ralph Branca, Gene Hermanski, Al Gionfriddo, Tommy Holmes and Johnny Podres, as well as Joan Hodges (Gil’s wife) and Rachel Robinson (Jackie’s wife). There is talk of further embracing the past by putting up a statue of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese with Reese’s arm around Robinson’s in the famous pose, honoring their efforts of teamwork and friendship that struck a blow against racism when Robinson broke into the big leagues in 1947. A statue would look good outside the stadium, which has another monument that’s been built since the 2001 season ended—a statue/wall on the west side of the stadium that honors the Brooklyn-based firemen who died on September 11. On the Surf Avenue side of KeySpan, Peggy O’Neill’s bar, which has the location in Bay Ridge where Cyclone players were known to get “taken care of,” has a bar built into the stadium, with a seating area that stretches out onto the sidewalk. On nice days—which are frequent in a Coney Island summer—the pre- and postgame crowd at Peggy O’Neill’s is substantial. This probably isn’t doing much for good old Ruby’s Bar on the boardwalk, but the folks who work at that drinking hole maintain that their business is not at all predicated on the baseball team. Fans that can’t make it to the stadium can still follow the Cyclones on the airwaves. The Cyclones had ten games televised on Fox Sports New York in 2002 and 2003, and they had a brief stint in 2002 on Sporting News AM-Radio (though 2003 found them back on Kingsborough Community College’s pitifully weak 90.9 FM). The stadium itself is also getting busier, as the organization is doing a better job of renting it out when the Cyclones aren’t using it. Since the middle of the 2001 season, KeySpan has become the home of the “Borough Baseball Challenge” which pits New York City college teams against one another, city high school championships, several boxing matches, and music concerts. KeySpan also welcomed the big-league New York Mets for an open workout at the end of March 2003 (which drew thousands of fans despite nasty ◆ 182 ◆ EPILOGUE weather that mostly kept the players in the dugout). The workout was being heavily hyped by the Cyclones’ website, because it represented, in the organization’s own words, “Major Leaguers taking the field in Brooklyn for the first time in forty-six years.” The Cyclones have...


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