The season is underway for the Brooklyn Cyclones, but not too long ago, it seemed that the start of the season could be in jeopardy.
That’s because Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the natural grass playing surface at MCU Park in Coney Island as well as affecting the clubhouses and offices in the stadium.
Cyclones’ manager Rich Donnelly, who is entering his third season at Brooklyn’s helm, was very emotional when speaking to the media about Sandy during the Cyclones’ preseason workout.
“When that happened, I felt like it was my family,” Donnelly said. “All we do is play baseball, and I saw what happened and saw the devastation to people I know.”
He said that the aftermath of the storm really hit him when he saw video footage of a trailer passing out supplies in a parking lot in Coney Island where he parks his car every day. He said that there are some people that work in the Cyclones’ front office that still don’t have their homes more than seven months after the storm.
“What we think is important is not; it’s not real life; it’s entertainment,” Donnelly said. “Yes, it’s a job, but what happened to them was incredible.”
The Cyclones installed a brand new FieldTurf surface that would be able to sustain another severe storm. But the field was not the only part of the ballpark that suffered damage.
“They told me stories that there was water over the dugout here,” Donnelly said. “We got all new dugouts and an all new field. I can’t even imagine what this place looked like. That’s something like you see in a movie.”
He kept saying that the Cyclones are his family and that it pained him to see his family members suffer, especially the people who lost their homes after living in the area their whole lives. He was involved in sending a few trucks worth of supplies to the area, but he still said he wishes he could have done more.
After what happened, Donnelly has a new outlook on this season.
“Our job this year is to provide some entertainment for those people that have been through hell,” he said. “If we can do that, it will be a great year. Wins or losses, forget it. Hopefully we don’t play so bad that it’s bad entertainment. Hopefully, it’s good entertainment so these people in the area can come out and enjoy themselves.”
He was sure to pass along a message to the fans that have helped the Cyclones become embedded in the Coney Island community for more than a decade.
“Just come out and enjoy yourself; you deserve it,” Donnelly said. “After what they’ve been through here, they deserve to come out here and have a good time. That to me is my goal for this team.”