Last week, I got to check out the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees. (I like to go to at least one Cyclones game every year, and I’ve added the Staten Island Yankees to the list because I really enjoy their ballpark.)
For Thursday’s hockey night jersey giveaway in Brooklyn, I arrived almost two hours before the gates opened, and there were already a dozen or so folks lined up. By the time my friend joined me, the line stretched back to the ticket windows and it looped around into a giant snake by the time the ballpark opened for all fans at 5:30 p.m.
I was impressed with the organization of the crowd, but most appeared to be Cyclones’ regulars who come to all of the team’s weekly jersey giveaways. Fans had the option of paying $3 to trade the size XL jersey they were handed at the gate for a size XXL one at a table inside if they chose. (I’m not sure if folks who would have preferred a smaller jersey were also accommodated.)
Unfortunately, I timed my trip badly in another respect – I missed seeing 2014 New York Mets first round draft pick Michael Conforto make his professional debut by two days. ( He was still in California for an awards show when I went.)
I did get to see a couple of other Mets’ prospects, though. Amed Rosario, an 18-year-old shortstop who made pre-season organizational top 10 prospect lists, got three hits (two doubles) and stole a base during the eight innings of the game I got to watch. Jhoan Urena, a 19-year-old third baseman regarded as a potential “sleeper” in the Mets’ farm system, also got a pair of hits while I was at the game.
The Cyclones and Jamestown Jammers (a Pittsburgh Pirates’ affiliate) did not play a particularly crisp game. Neither starting pitcher made it past the third inning, and there were numerous walks, wild pitches and fielding errors in the four hour plus, 10 inning contest.
At one point in the middle of the game, I remarked to my friend that the Parachute Jump’s changing light displays were more interesting than what was happening on the field, and he did not disagree.
I’d like to get back to Coney Island to see Conforto play, but that’s probably not going to happen – it takes better than two hours to make the one-way trip from my home to MCU Park.
The Staten Island Yankees also held a jersey giveaway night last week, but it proved to be less popular than Brooklyn’s. When we arrived about an hour before the gates opened, barely anyone was waiting to get in. The crowd grew as we approached 6 p.m., but never really developed into an organized line. (I think just about everybody who arrived before first pitch probably got a jersey.)
I want to compliment the Yankees for having two players sitting at a table in front of the team store to sign autographs as early-arriving fans entered, but I was disappointed that it meant the gift shop was closed when I went to check it out. (I never got back over there once the game started.)
I wasn’t particularly impressed with the time it took to get through concessions lines either – I could easily imagine fans missing more than one inning if they waited until the game started to buy food.
But you can’t beat the view – the Manhattan skyline is visible over the right-center field wall, and you get to watch the giant container ships sail by throughout the game.
We got to watch the Williamsport Crosscutters (a Philadelphia Phillies’ affiliate) defeat the Yankees 6-3 in a fast-moving game that allowed us to watch some of the post-game fireworks and still catch the 10:30 p.m. ferry back to Manhattan.
If you live near a minor league or independent league team and you enjoy baseball, you owe it to yourself to try to get to a game this summer – it’s a whole different experience from the major leagues and it can be a lot of fun.