A Tale of Two Ball Parks

The Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones organizations were both surprises to us. And they were complete opposites.

When we were visiting New York City in the summer of 2004 we saw the Staten Island Yankees the second day we were in town. We were both excited about the trip. Neither of us had ever ridden the ferry and probably acted like every other tourist that’s ever seen a boat and water. Ginny took pictures (her primary responsibility) while Dan tried to play it cool. When we deboarded, all we needed to do was turn right up a small hill and we were at the park. The stadium was fairly new, having been opened only three years before (2001) and is so conveniently placed that anyone could find it: “Take the ferry to Staten Island, then turn right.”

The staff were friendly and eager to help us find what we needed, from our seats to New York style food to the right sized hat for our friend. But the most impressive and memorable event is, when they sing the Star Spangled Banner, the fans are looking out over the water at the Statue of Liberty. Just writing this, we still get goosebumps. That particular evening, Taylor John, the son of the team’s coach and former major league pitcher Tommy John, sung the national anthem, which made our visit even more memorable.

Then we have our trip to the Brooklyn Cyclones. It seemed to begin well, with a great subway ride out to Coney Island and a stroll along the beachfront down to the amusement park area. But when got into the park and to our seats, the disappointment began. You must know that, when possible, we always sit directly behind home plate. Dan admires the profession of the umpire. So much so that at one time he wanted to use his sabbatical from work to attend umpire school. And Ginny just likes to be safe behind the mesh. It is definitely a unique view of the game. However, here we were out on the furthest edge of the seats passed third base. As we trudged our way out to this desolate land, Dan grumbled that he had specifically asked for the closest seats to home plate. At some sold-out parks, this might just be the closest. But here we were with NOBODY around us. There was no way that the park was sold out. Besides being out in the back of beyond, the whole area around us was filthy. It looked like the day after soccer hooligans had been there: peanut shells everywhere, hot dog wrappers strewn up and down the steps, empty beer cups thrown under seats, and a melted nutty banana prominently situated at our feet—at least, we hoped it was a nutty banana. If it wasn’t, sitting in the sun as it did, it would soon be emanating a smell that would reflect the looks of the trashed area.

Dan handed Ginny his purchases from the team store and went back to Will Call to complain. Meanwhile, Ginny sat down with a sigh, a few seats away from the questionable banana, to set up her scorebook. Twenty minutes later, he returned, his mood even more sour. It seems that the Brooklyn club’s sales were handled by the parent club—the NY Mets—and those people had never seen the stadium. They had no idea where the seats closest to home plate were even located! Brooklyn couldn’t exchange tickets either because—according to them—there were no seats available. And all this information was delivered to Dan with a condescending, snotty attitude to boot. Dan described the people at the ticket counters and in the front office as unwilling to help anyone, even if we were from out of town and here to specifically see their team. They didn’t care. This was added to the fact that later, during the game, when we surveyed the area behind home plate, we saw that it was almost completely empty.

It was a sad disappointment that a Yankee organization had outshone the Mets’. We thought, well, maybe money really does buy happiness. At least it hired friendlier people.

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