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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Community Invited to Jewish Heritage Day With Brooklyn Cyclones

On Sunday, August 2nd, the Brooklyn Cyclones will hold a Jewish Heritage Day during their 1:00 PM game against the Batavia Bulldogs. Jewish Heritage Day has been a longstanding annual tradition at MCU Park, Brooklyn’s home stadium.

Steve Cohen, the vice president of the Cyclones, says that this year’s event “will have song and dance performances during the game including the Israeli National Anthem, [and] Dmitriy Salita will be here.” Salita, the welterweight boxer who is also a practicing Orthodox Jew, will “throw out a first pitch and meet the fans.”

That won’t be all, though, as Cohen says, “we are also working on a few other things that should make the night a lot of fun.”

For previous Jewish Heritage Days, the Cyclones have had bands play, worn jerseys with “Cyclones” written in Hebrew, and according to Cohen, who has been with the team since its inception in 2000, “one year we had eighteen rabbis throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.”

Cohen’s personal favorite, though, was when the team’s mascot, Sandy the Seagull, (named after the legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers) turned thirteen and the team had a bar mitzvah celebration for him.

In addition to Jewish Heritage Day, the Cyclones host a number of other special events, such as Selfie Sunday (July 19th), 80s Night (July 29th), and NYPD Night (August 11th). Cohen is particularly looking forward to “Augtoberfest,” the team’s spin on Octoberfest.

The Cyclones are a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets. That means that prospects who come into New York’s farm system often pass through Brooklyn on their way to the major leagues, so while at the ballpark, you might see some future superstars in action.

Ex-Cyclones players who are currently playing for the Mets include their best hitter, the first baseman Lucas Duda, as well as a couple of elite relievers in Jenrry Mejia and Bobby Parnell. Ex-Cyclones on other teams include starter Scott Kazmir and first baseman Ike Davis for the Oakland Athletics and outfielder Angel Pagan for the San Francisco Giants.

The Cyclones play in the McNamara Division of the New York-Penn League, a fourteen-team league for clubs based in the Northeast. Brooklyn currently holds a record of fifteen wins and eight losses, good for first place in their division and second place in the entire league, behind only the Williamsport Crosscutters, who lead the Cyclones by a game and a half, with a record of seventeen wins and six losses.

The Cyclones’ success has come from a team effort, but a few players have stood out. Vincent Siena, their twenty-one year old second baseman, is second in the league in batting average, at .361. The right fielder, Michael Bernal, leads the league in runs scored, with seventeen.

On the pitching side of the ledger, standouts include starter Matt Blackham, whose thirty strikeouts lead the league, and closer Alex Palsha, whose five saves are second to none.

Cohen is optimistic about the team’s playoff chances. He acknowledges that “it’s still early,” but that, as of now, “it looks like we have a very good team.”

The Cyclones are hoping to break their two-year playoff drought and to return to the league’s championship series, which they have not participated in since 2010, when they lost to the Tri-City Valley Cats, two games to one, after a 51 win season.

For Jewish Heritage Day, Cohen says that there are “several great ticket packages available” which will make “coming to the game an inexpensive and fun night.”

To learn more, visit brooklyncyclones.com.

Sushi Kaplan, a rising junior at West Orange High, is a former Jewish Link editorial intern. Read more of Sushi’s writing at http://www.sushionsports.wordpress.com.

By Sushi Kaplan

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