An evening with Brooklyn’s premier baseball club

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Roughly thirty minutes before a mid-August Brooklyn Cyclones game, a family of three, a journalist, and a man in a Jedi robe entered an elevator at Maimonides Park. As the doors shut and the elevator ascended, the Jedi inquired, “What planet are you all from?”

“Um, Brooklyn,” responded the family’s matriarch. The Jedi began humming “Mad About Me” by Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, hinting at his Tatooine origins.

As the elevator doors parted and they stepped 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 Backyard beyond the right-field wall, hundreds more were enjoying beers and cornhole, seemingly oblivious to the imminent baseball game. The main draws on this particular Saturday were Star Wars Night and the $50 all-you-can-drink promotion.

The following afternoon, spectators who had come to witness Brooklyn’s 6-0 victory over the Aberdeen IronBirds also enjoyed endless mimosas on the rooftop and pre-game catch in the left field.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That evening, 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 their favorite MLB team’s struggles. Brooklyn lost to Aberdeen, 8-3, but it was not as crushing as the Mets’ doubleheader defeat to Atlanta, who scored a combined 27-3.

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

She mentioned attending Cyclones games since the team’s inaugural season in 2001: “They’re a great introduction to professional baseball.”

Her 4-year-old son, Henry, was elsewhere, embarking on 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. Kids 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 for fans to run the bases.

The next day, over rooftop brunch, Maurice Geary, visiting from Barbados, shared that enjoying the Cyclones, the amusement park, and Brighton Beach were his favorite New York activities.

His friend Amy Maxmen, who disliked sports, found Sunday’s experience different.

“There’s a lot to do,” she said. “There’s brunch, all you can drink, and good vibes.”

“I’ve only been to serious baseball games and didn’t enjoy them,” she added. “I prefer minor league games; they’re much more fun.”

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

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

The hope remains that these future Mets will soon bring their winning ways to Queens.

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