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I suppose it's not fair to make the comparison. But I will anyway.
When minor-league baseball came to the borough last year in the form of the Queens Kings, it was greeted with protests against the stadium itself and with palpable apathy toward the team.
When minor-league baseball came to Brooklyn this year, half the games were practically sold out before opening day. Brooklyn Cyclones hats, shirts, bats and balls, inaugural programs, and anything else with "BC" on it flew off shelves. People packed the spanking new stadium in Coney Island, a baseball's throw away from the team's namesake, the legendary wooden roller coaster, and right next to the towering, equally legendary (but no longer operating) Parachute Jump.
Maybe Queens can be excused. Those who didn't get into the spirit of the Queens Kings - which was just about everyone in the borough - will say, "Queens already has a baseball team, the Mets."
But it really doesn't. They're the New York Mets, not the Queens Mets. When people west of the Hudson watch or hear about the Mets, they think of New York, not Queens.
And they certainly don't think of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It's almost a half century later, but it could be five centuries later - Brooklyn will never forgive Walter O'Malley for moving the Dodgers away.
It's no accident that the "B" in the BC logo of the new team is written in the style of the "B" that Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Peewee Reese and the others wore on their caps. It's not the low-priced tickets or the Nathan's franks or the view of the boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean from home plate that's drawing Met, Yankee, and even novice fans to KeySpan Park.
It's because Brooklyn once again has a pro ball team. And even though the Cyclones are playing teams like the Vermont Expos (who, by the way, were slaughtered by the Cyclones 14-5 Sunday) and the Batavia Muckdogs, you could feel the fierce borough loyalty as hard as the impact of wood against rolled twine. And when you hear "Go Cyclones!" and "Vermont sucks!" you could swear you're hearing "Dem Bums!" and can easily imagine that the D train rumbling into Stillwell Avenue will switch tracks and go down Bedford Avenue to Ebbitts Field.
The fantasy is interrupted when you see franks selling for $4 and a bag of peanuts for $3.50, but it's just a temporary intrusion of 2001 into 1955.
And besides, you're in Coney Island. Before the game you probably spent $20 on rides (if you're with your kids, or even if you're not), $25 on pizza, corn-on-the-cob, Nathan's franks, and sodas (double that figure, at least, if the kids are there) and $10.75 in quarters trying to win a trinket in skeeball.
Actually, I don't think they could have come up with a better location for the new team than Coney Island. Here was a confluence of time and culture impossible anywhere else - more than 7,600 people of every imaginable hue, age, and background Sunday afternoon, all cheering for an equally diverse team (except for the ages - they were mainly in their late teens and early 20s), yelling good-natured (for the most part) insults at the foreign (Vermont, for Pete's sake) team, giving their opinions on who the Cyclone coaches should put up to pitch, complaining about paying $1.75 for a cup of Pepsi, standing on the bleacher benches screaming when Brooklyn scored, matching only the screams of the brave souls racing down at a 60-degree angle on the Cyclone, drowning out the wails of the seagulls happy to find pieces of hot-dog rolls and left-over nachos on the boardwalk and beach.
Throughout the full game on Sunday, the sky promised but never delivered rain.
This was Brooklyn playing. The rain would have to wait.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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