Born in Brooklyn and a baseball fan to boot, it was only a matter of time that I’d get to a Brooklyn Cyclones game. I mean they’ve only been around for over twenty years. When my daughter received an extra voucher for tickets, a perk after participating in a Coney Island 5K run, she made the invitation. In my head, I thought, “it is time.” We choose a fun night, a Friday when there’d be fireworks right after the game.
We met up in Manhattan, choosing to take the D or the F all the way to Coney Island. No way did I want to maneuver the roads around that part of the city, on a Friday, in the Summer! The train offered the perfect air-conditioned ride. Heading to that tip of Brooklyn, I was excited. I used to take this train every day when I lived in Bensonhurst and tried to see if I could remember the stops along the way. On the elevated D, riders get a mini tour of that part of the borough. When you do it every day, however, one typically nods off or zones out with headphones. I was like a tourist headed to one of the most famous places in the world: Coney Island, and I gazed out the window a 5-year-old.
We exited at the last stop, along with other fans of all ages, more young people than I thought, which was encouraging for the sport, and the team. I tend to prefer minor league baseball, like the Renegades up in Dutchess County, or the Rockland Boulders in Pomona. Heck, I’d even watch a local school team play at the park. It was a game my family watched, and growing up, I learned to watch, too, and even understand a little bit of the strategies. If only I could figure out what the heck the base coaches are saying with all those hand signals.
It’s a short walk from the subway terminal to the stadium, but my senses were overwhelmed with the sights of the famous Coney Island amusement park rides that tower high above the street. We have the cyclone rollercoaster, of course (which I only rode one time in my life), the Wonder Wheel, the Luna Park Sling Shot, and the most famous, I think, of them all: the parachute jump. It can be seen by many spots along the Brooklyn and Queens shoreline, and it’s a true Brooklyn landmark.
As I gave a sentimental nod to The Original Nathan’s Famous (c. 1916), I was so glad to see it still drawing the crowds. Directly next door is the stadium, with its retro design, looking like where you’d buy tickets for the circus. Since it was already the start of the second inning, we got through security in seconds and not long after, were in our seats. Inside the stadium, it felt and looked like a big-league game, except for the in-between shenanigans on the field, like games of chance, lip-synching contests, and people acting silly. We even witnessed a proposal to which the crowd hollered, “are you sure?” after hearing the bride-to-be said “Yes.” Typical Brooklyn.
However, there was just as much fun going on around our section in addition to the exciting game on the field. Our seats were sandwiched between two groups of twenty-somethings out on dates or looking for ones. The group of four ladies in front of us in party outfits drinking mixed drinks and taking lots of glances back towards a group of what I thought to be New York firefighters by the looks of their shirts which memorialized a fallen comrade. The large beer cans were everywhere, most every hand had either a Corona or a Modelo. Though I was sure I’d get a stadium hot dog ($11.90), I opted for the sausage and pepper hero for a dollar more. It didn’t disappoint. Even the wait was manageable. When you consider that the stadium, officially know as the Maimonides Park, holds 7,000 people, and Yankee Stadium holds over 54,000, getting a bite to eat and a beer takes less than three outs. There is one tradition that as much as we moan and groan, we all take part: the 7th inning stretch. Mostly because we’ve been sitting for an hour or, and it feels good to stand up and move about. And, once you’re standing, it’s only a matter of time before one starts mouthing the words to “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” It feels un-American not to do so. But, when the right side of the stadium began to stand in unison, then the next section, then the next, I thew my bag onto the empty seat beside me and jumped up at the right time with my hands held high. The wave in action!!
By the end of the 9th, it was apparent that the valiant Cyclones were not going to get two more runs to take the lead. But that’s okay. We exited the park to the sound of fireworks going off all around us. The lights of Coney Island were all around us as well. It was a sight to behold.
Tickets range between $10 and $15. Visit milb.com/brooklyn/schedule.
Featured photo by Matthew Kipp / Brooklyn Cyclones. All others by MJ Hanley-Goff.