BY JIM DOLAN
“The last time I was in Brooklyn was in 1982 to scout the Cubs’ Shawon Dunston at the Parade Grounds,” said Cyclones new manager Tom Gamboa. Back in 1982 as a “national cross-checker,” Gamboa just spent a few hours in Brooklyn before boarding another plane to scout the rest of the country’s top 150 other prospects in various regions around the country.
“Now, I’ll be in Brooklyn for a three-month stay and I’m excited to go back,” said the Cyclones new skipper.
With over 40 years of baseball experience, the 66-year-old Gamboa decided to come out of retirement when the Mets VP for Player Development and Scouting, Paul DePodesta offered him the job on the recommendation of the last year’s former Cyclone manager, Rich Donnelly, who left in February to coach for the Seattle Mariners.
“I was on my way to a golf tournament in San Diego, enjoying retirement, when I got the call,” Gamboa recalled just four weeks ago. “But once I was told all about Brooklyn, I thought it sounded like fun to come back.”
When it was further explained that the Mets were looking for a more experienced person to manage young players at this level, Gamboa saw his experience as a perfect fit, describing himself as “a teacher of the game.”
With stints as a major league coach with the Cubs, Tigers and Padres, Gamboa made the acquaintance of last year’s Cyclone manager Rich Donnelly in the late 1980s. “We third base coaches have a bond,” claimed Gamboa. “Whenever the Pirates would come into Chicago to play the Cubs, we would get together and have been friends since. I’m very glad to be following in Rich’s footsteps.”
When asked how he would handle the long, hot extended spring training (April to mid-June) through which the Cyclone minor leaguers must persevere before finally reaching opening day in Brooklyn, Gamboa enthusiastically answered, “I’m used to an extended spring and especially the heat living in the California desert.” According to the Rancho Mirage resident, “I’m a hot weather type of guy, and can’t wait until it gets to 100°.”
Summing up his short time in the Mets Minor League Complex, Gamboa stated, “It’s been two weeks down here in Port St. Lucie and so far I’ve met a great staff; I’m really glad to be back in the game again.”
Concluding on a note of optimism Gamboa said, “June will be here before you know it.”