2005-07-29 / Sports

2005 Cyclones Begin To Put The Pieces Together

By Elio Velez

Joe Holden. Photo By Twig
Joe Holden. Photo By Twig 1955 holds a special place for the former Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s the only year in the fabled history of those legendary teams of Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Gil Hodges that won the World Series over their hated rivals the New York Yankees.

The 50th Anniversary of the fabled Brooklyn Dodgers World Championship team of 1955 was honored by the Brooklyn Cyclones last Saturday night. Former pitchers Clem Labine, Ed Roebuck, George Shuba and Carl Erskine attended along with Joan Hodges, the wife of the late Gil Hodges.

Erskine, or affectionately known by the Dodger faithful as “Oisk”, won 11 games as a starter and remembers vividly of October 4, 1955. It was the day Brooklyn will celebrate forever as Johnny Podres won a 2-0 shutout in the deciding Game 7 over the Yankees.

“I don’t think I’ve seen so many people on the streets that night,” Erskine said of the many fans that were celebrating on the streets.

“They were out in all sizes. Little kids, big kids, people in their chairs. We stayed at the Biltmore Hotel that night and I know no one went to bed in Brooklyn that night and the next few nights.”

The friendships forged were the backbone of those Dodger teams in those late 1940’s to 1950’s. Erskine was so influenced by the courageous struggle of Jackie Robinson that he recently penned the book “What I Learned Form Jackie Robinson”.

When it comes to bitter memories for the 78 year old Labine, it’s the departure of the Dodgers to Los Angeles that still affects him to this day. He didn’t even realize the impact of moving until April of 1958, less than six months after the final game at Ebbetts Field.

“I don’t remember the Dodgers sharing a meeting to bring us to speed. We learned like the other people did,” Erskine said of the Dodgers move in 1957.

“When spring training was finished we play our usual exhibition games before the season. We would normally go up north and pay the (then Milwaukee) Braves in Mobile (Alabama). But we didn’t do that,” Erskine said.

“We went to the airport, boarded the Dodger plane and flew to San Francisco. That’s when it hit the team that the Brooklyn experience was over.”

Cyclones Starting To Heat Up

Manager Mookie Wilson denied that there was scolding and anger from him in a two hour post game clubhouse meeting after a brutal doubleheader loss to Auburn on July 18.

At that point the Cyclones were struggling with a record of 14-11 and were below .500 average at Keyspan Park.

“We were bound to come out of a slump at some point. I would like to say the meeting maybe it had something to do with it, Wilson said.

“Our farm director (Kevin Morgan) wanted to talk to the guys because he had not done it yet, so there wasn’t any yelling or scolding that we did.”

If Wilson did have a pep talk, or gave a scathing indictment of their inconsistent play, the Cyclones seem to have woken up. In the last 10 days, a 7-3 record has evened their home record to .500 and placed them a game and a halfn behind Staten Island. Williamsport is in second place after winning nine out of ten ballgames.

The hitting, which was second to last in the New York Penn League, has climbed up to the middle of the pack in the standings.

Joe Holden may be the fastest leadoff hitter the Cyclones have had since Angel Pagan tore up the basepaths in 2001. Not shabby with the bat either, a .354 average has cemented him into the everyday lineup. Caleb Stewart is batting over .300 and leads the team in RBI and Josh Petersen came back form a slow start to hit .325.

The defensive prowess of Cyclones catcher Drew Butera was on display last Sunday night. He gunned out three baserunners in the first, second and seventh inning. The league has begun to fear the arm that has thrown out 9 of 16 runners that’s attempted to steal a base.

“He’s been consistent and he is what we expected so far. The hitting will get there eventually,” Wilson says as Butera is only hitting .123 on the season. “But catching and throwing the ball, he’s been outstanding,” Wilson said.

Infielder Yury Sanatna arrived from Kingsport (Rookie A) last Sunday. Yury did not make a favorable impression on his first day with the ballclub. He went 0-3 and made an error in the second that led to a Jamestown run and a 6-3 defeat.

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