Being Part of Something Bigger
For the thirteenth consecutive year, WFUV talks to the members of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees in the Short Season Single-A Penn League about the trials and tribulations of being minor league ballplayers. The long bus rides, the low pay, 76 games in 80 days. This is a look into Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives.
This week, Matt Rosenfeld and Anthony Pucik find out what it means to be a part of these iconic teams.
The Staten Island Yankees with Matt Rosenfeld:
Every player at any level of professional baseball has “made it” in some way or another. These men are being paid, either a lot or a little, to play the game of baseball. It’s a special thing to play in any class of baseball. It’s another thing, however, to put on the pinstripes. The New York Yankees are not just the most historic team in baseball, but perhaps in all of sports. The major league ballclub has won more championships than years most of the Staten Island roster has been alive.
One player with a unique take on playing for the Yankees is outfielder Mike O’Neill. Nephew of Yankee great Paul O’Neill, Mike’s 3rd round selection to the Yankees turned out to be a dream come true. After years of watching his uncle in the pinstripes, the younger O’Neill now has a chance to come through a system that has produced numerous stars and make his own mark in Bomber history.
Pitcher Andy Beresford has a bit of a different story. Originally from Fullerton, California, he grew up surrounded by Angels and Padres baseball. Although his childhood wasn’t filled with Yankee memories like O’Neill’s, Beresford said, “27 Championships speaks for itself.”
Seeing a world famous pinstriped jersey with your number on it can be overwhelming, but both O’Neill and Beresford, along with the rest of their Yankee teammates are just trying to embrace the opportunity and make the most of their chance in professional baseball.
The Brooklyn Cyclones with Anthony Pucik:
Everyone in the Brooklyn and Staten Island area knows the Cyclones and the Yankees. They are two teams that serve their respective boroughs proudly that play professional baseball, but more well-known names that people know all around the country, and the world, are the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. The Yankees and Mets are two of the greatest franchises in all of Major League Baseball. Some of the names that have come out of these two organizations are incredible: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, the list goes on. Even current names like Mike Piazza, David Wright, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are names that are very recognizable to all baseball fans, and all are a part of these two great franchises. Now, these Mini Mets and Baby Bombers are a part of these teams’ great legacies as well, something that not every ballplayer can say they have had the privilege of doing.
Many members of the Brooklyn Cyclones have just started their professional baseball careers, and that is tough enough to begin with. Imagine the feeling of playing for a team that is based in New York, one of the biggest sports cities in world. Then imagine playing for a team like the Brooklyn Cyclones, in one of the nicest ballparks in the entire New York Penn League that has drawn the highest average attendance this season. All of this, of course, after being drafted by the New York Metropolitans, a storied franchise in the MLB. Many of these players had heard of the Mets growing up, particularly Cyclones second baseman LJ Mazzilli, who was a fan of both the Yankees and the Mets, largely in part due to his father Lee being a part of both organizations. LJ was also a fan of the Orioles when his father coached them, but both men had nothing but good things to say about the Mets, and Lee couldn’t be happier that his son was drafted by them, saying that he was blessed as a parent.
Cyclones’ shortstop Gavin Cecchini had his own way of expressing his gratitude for the Mets’ organization, calling them family. Cecchini was extremely grateful to the Mets’ organization for drafting him and making him feel comfortable, and is very happy to be a part of the Cyclones. Manager Rich Donnelly also had a few things to say about the Mets’ organization, praising the Wilpons for the way that they run the organization from the big league level all the way down to the single-A summer league Cyclones. All of this praise is well deserved for an organization like the Mets who have treated their players with a great deal of respect, which clearly shows through praise from the Mazzilli’s, Cecchini and Donnelly.
Of course being a part of the Cyclones is great, but there is always that dream of one day playing for the New York Mets. That is the feat that these young ballplayers hope to accomplish, to one day take the hill or step onto Citi Field and wear the orange and blue of the New York Mets. LJ Mazzilli talks about hoping to one day make it up to the big leagues and play with the Mets for a very long time. Well, clearly all of these young men were chosen to play for the Cyclones for a purpose. The New York Mets’ organization saw something in each and every one of these kids that they wanted to be a part of their storied franchise, and now they have the opportunity of one day playing for a great MLB team.