BY JIM DOLAN
“How dare they do that” was the reaction by Cyclone Manager Rich Donnelly to the notice of the vandalism ofMCUPark’s statue of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson on the morning of July 9. The statue of the Dodger duet was erected in November of 2005 to represent the spirit of racial unity brought about by Brooklyn Dodger captain Pee Wee Reese’s acceptance of Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play in the major leagues in the spring of 1947.
Before coming to the ball park for a day game, Donnelly received a call from his son-in-law in Los Angeles informing him that vandals had defaced the statue with racial slurs and hate symbols.
Seeing a number of plainclothes cops milling around the statue, Donnelly’s reaction was one of embarrassment and hurt. “I’ve lived here for three years now and consider myself a citizen of Brooklyn,” he said. “That statue represents more than baseball to the people of this community which has all races.”
Besides the Cyclone management’s re-dedication of the statue on August 19, Donnelly stated that he has his own idea to stand up to the perpetrators of this act.
“I propose to have our team picture taken in front the statue this year instead of in the outfield,” stated a defiant Donnelly. “This will show that we are supporters of what this statue represents. That picture will go viral all over the country to show what we stand for.”
As far as the standings, after the All Star break, the Cyclones are in second place with a 29-28 record, just one game behind the first place 29-26 Aberdeen Iron Birds. With a fast sinking third place 27-31HudsonValleyteam, the door is open for the Cyclones to make the fight for first place in the McNamara Division.
“Pitching is at a premium in this league where the overall league batting average is .242,” remarked Donnelly, explaining why his offense must get on track at this late point in the season. “We can’t win each game going 1-0 or 2-1 each night on pitching; we need our offense to pick it up.”
So far, Gavin Cecchini (.309) has provided that offensive spark, still riding a 16-game hitting streak along with L.J. Mazzilli, who is hitting a steady .302.
Also aiding the Cyclone offensive cause is right fielder James Roche, who leads the team with four home runs and left fielder Jared King, who returned from the disabled list (rib sprain), going three for four to keep the Cyclones in second place with a 6-4 win over the Vermont Lake Monsters this past Sunday.