Cyclones’ lefty reliever John Mincone is back in Brooklyn this summer, and already he’s off to a similar start as last year’s All-Star campaign.
He maybe was a candidate to start the year at a higher level of the minors, but he suffered a bout of tendinitis that delayed his offseason conditioning.
He’s settled in as the Cyclones’ closer this year, and he’s been unhittable – striking out seven batters in 3.2 innings of work.
The season is young, but he’s on his way to another All-Star selection.
Below is a piece I wrote last summer about Mincone. The soon-to-be 24-year-old has dealt with several hardships in his young life, but he proudly wears them on his sleeve…and even on his glove.
Here is the story of Mincone’s symbolic glove:
In baseball, it’s common for players to adorn their gloves with personal symbols such as their initials, their autographs, the area code where they grew up or the flag of their country of origin.
Brooklyn Cyclones lefty relief pitcher John Mincone, a Huntington, L.I., native, has followed this trend, however not by using any of the above examples.
A cross is sewn into the palm of Mincone’s glove. The initials of a family member sit at each of the four endpoints. On the pinky of the glove are the letters “PHIL 4:4,” representing the Bible verse Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Mincone uses his glove as a symbol of remembrance for family members he lost to cancer. “RM” on the top of the cross stands for Raymond Mincone, John’s grandfather on his dad’s side who passed away in February. On the left side, “FT” stands for Florence Tomasello, John’s grandmother on his mom’s side. The right side has the initials “AT” representing Antonio Tomasello, John’s grandfather on his mom’s side.
But the bottom endpoint of the cross has the most significance to the Cyclones’ hurler. The letters “JM” stand for Joseph Mincone, John’s father who passed away on Aug. 13, 2011 at age 50 after losing his battle with cancer.
Joseph Mincone had coached his son John since the latter was just two years old. As John progressed in the game, Joseph served as his pitching coach to make sure his mechanics were fluid. The two developed an inseparable bond.
“We did everything together,” John said. “He wasn’t only like that with me but with my four other brothers as well. It was the fact that he was able to put 100 percent of his time into every single one of his kids and my mother.”
When John was in fifth grade, Joseph was diagnosed with cancer in the lymph nodes of his neck. He made a smooth recovery, but in 2005, the cancer came back. After surgery, Joseph was once again cancer free.
John meanwhile was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 11th round of the June 2009 MLB Draft after pitching at Suffolk County Community College, Brentwood, L.I. Joseph and John spent some quality time together in Arizona at John’s first spring training for the Cubs in 2010.
However, just days after Joseph left, he called his son with terrible news.
“He (Joseph) told me that the cancer had come back behind his ear canal and back behind his cheekbone,” John said. “He didn’t want to ruin the time we were having. That’s just the type of guy he was.”
After his dad passed, John thought of a way to honor his father’s legacy. Joseph’s favorite Bible verse was the aforementioned Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice!”
John said his father would always seek to help others. He often walked the streets of New York City, taking in those who were hungry and buying them food.
“He loved doing the Lord’s work,” John said. “That’s what he did. He rejoiced in the Lord always. He wanted to make sure everybody around him knew it.”
When the Mets signed John in mid-March of 2012, the glove company that sponsors him told him it could do basically anything to personalize his glove. He chose the cross design on the palm and the Bible verse on the pinky in order to keep the memories of his dad and his other family members alive.
“Over in Taiwan where they make these (gloves), they believe the palm is closest to the heart, so that’s why they wanted the cross and the initials on the inside,” John said.
When Joseph was alive, he watched every one of John’s games either in person, on television or online.
“That’s been the toughest adjustment period…not being able to talk to him after the game,” John said. “Having the symbol in the glove…I look at it before I pitch every time. It feels like he’s with me out there.”
In this way, Joseph is still watching over his son as he pitches. John said he feels blessed to have had his father and grandparents in his life for the time that he did.
“It’s really hard to take positives out of everything that’s happened, especially the last couple of years, but they (his deceased family members) were such huge supporters of my career,” John said. “Everything they told me clicked in after that. Whether religiously or baseball wise, they taught my brothers and I how to be the people that we are.”
The Mincone family has become even closer since losing Joseph. John’s mother and brothers attend games frequently at MCU Park in Coney Island.
“The support has been incredible from the entire family,” John said. “We’re all here for each other no matter what. It’s unfortunate, but in times like these, you really see what families are made of. I’m really proud of the way my family has handled everything.”
Though relief pitching is often an uncertain role in baseball, John is certain about one thing: The spirit of his father Joseph will be with him as he “rejoices in the Lord” on and off the baseball diamond.
This season, Mincone is using the newer model of this glove. However, the cross and Biblical verse are in the exact same place.