Thursday, July 18

An Evening with Brooklyn’s Best Baseball Club

About thirty minutes before a Brooklyn Cyclones game in mid-August, a family of three, a reporter, and a man in a Jedi robe stepped into an elevator at Maimonides Park. As the doors closed and the elevator ascended, the Jedi asked, “What planet are you from?”

“Um, Brooklyn,” the family matriarch replied. The Jedi began humming “Mad About Me” by Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, alluding to his Tatooine roots.

As the elevator doors opened and they descended onto the field apron, they joined hundreds of other Jedi Knights and Padawan apprentices mingling with fans armed with scorebooks, pencils, and baseball gloves. In the courtyard behind the right-field wall, hundreds more enjoyed beers and cornhole, seemingly unaware of the upcoming baseball game. The main attractions on this particular Saturday were Star Wars Night and the $50 all-you-can-drink promotion.

The following afternoon, spectators who came to watch Brooklyn’s 6-0 victory over the Aberdeen IronBirds also enjoyed endless mimosas on the rooftop and a pre-game baseball game in left field.

It was, in essence, another typical summer weekend at this waterfront stadium, home of the Mets’ High-A affiliate, the Cyclones. Here, kids run the bases after the last out and savvy ticket holders lead the crowd’s chants. It’s also the only venue in town this season where a local professional team is thriving.

This summer, New York City’s best-recorded professional team plays not in the Bronx or Queens, but in Brooklyn. While the Mets and Yankees were languishing in fourth and fifth place earlier this week, the Cyclones had a two-game lead over the Jersey Shore BlueClaws in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League.

“Stevie Cohen can buy the Mets, but he can’t buy this atmosphere,” Josh Schoen observed, referring to Mets owner Steven A. Cohen.

Schoen, 31, a Yankee Stadium season-ticket holder and Mets supporter, attended the Brooklyn game with friends for the “booze and atmosphere.”

“And they win more than the Yankees and the Mets,” he added, referring to the Cyclones.

From Schoen’s seat in the Backyard, watching the action was challenging. Fans could only peer through a section of the right-field wall, prompting Caroline Kelley to jokingly ask her boyfriend, Brian O’Reilly, if she could ride on his shoulders for a better view while they played cornhole.

That night, during the Cyclones game, Allie Ditkowich celebrated her 33rd birthday.

Standing near the transparent part of the wall, Ditkowich and his friend Ben Engle lamented the struggles of their favorite MLB team. Brooklyn lost to Aberdeen, 8-3, but it wasn’t as crushing as the Mets’ loss to Atlanta, which was 27-3 overall.

Elizabeth Beller-Dee stood on the right field apron at Maimonides Park with her 19-month-old daughter, Leslie.

He said he has been attending Cyclones games since the team’s inaugural season in 2001: “They’re a great introduction to professional baseball.”

His 4-year-old son Henry was elsewhere, starting his “Padawan training.”

When the game ended, thousands of fans gathered near Section 20 along the right field line to run the bases. But first, the Empire Saber Guild performed a choreographed lightsaber duel. Children in the stands chanted, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

After the galaxy’s order was restored, it was time for fireworks. Only after the grand finale did the field gate open to allow fans to run to the bases.

The next day, over brunch on the rooftop, Maurice Geary, visiting from Barbados, said his favorite things to do in New York were the Cyclones, the amusement park and Brighton Beach.

Her friend Amy Maxmen, who hated sports, found Sunday’s experience different.

“There’s a lot going on,” he said. “There’s brunch, all-you-can-drink, and good vibes.”

“I’ve only been to serious baseball games and I haven’t had any fun,” she added. “I prefer minor league games; they’re a lot more fun.”

As the game began, the regulars took their places near the first-base dugout. David Pecoraro, wearing a Cyclones bucket hat, a “7 Alfonzo” T-shirt, and plenty of zinc oxide on his face, meticulously kept score. A season-ticket holder for about a decade, Pecoraro fondly recalled watching a 2019 game with his son Danny when the Cyclones won the championship over the Lowell Spinners.

“The Brooklyn Cyclones experience is about enjoying the beach and seeing the future Mets up close,” he said.

The hope is that the future Mets can soon bring victory back to Queens.