The time has gone so fast,” said returning second year Cyclone Manager Tom Gamboa looking back at his 42 years in baseball during an interview in spring training at Port St. Lucie.
Whether it’s been coaching in the big leagues for a major league club or managing at the minor league A Level, the even-keeled 67-year-old has seen it all and has managed to keep a sense of humor whenever life or baseball has throws him a curve.
After some time spent with Gamboa, you discover that the California resident is practically a walking baseball encyclopedia who is ready to question you to test your knowledge of the game. In addition to baseball facts, Gamboa is also a rock trivia impresario who can recall obscure artists as well as their song lyrics from the 1960s – a talent that he picked up on long road trips over his baseball career.
Gamboa returned to baseball last year to manage the Brooklyn team after a two-year hiatus from the game caring for his terminally ill mother until her eventual demise.
With a recommendation for the position by former Cyclone Manager Rich Donnelly, the Mets reached out to Gamboa in January of 2014 while he was in transit to a golf tournament in California. After pondering the offer to come out of his baseball retirement, Gamboa accepted the job largely based on Donnelly’s recommendation.
Looking back at last season, Gamboa states that he did again enjoy teaching the young talent coming up in the Mets organization. In particular, his fondest memory of the season was the comeback that the Cyclones made in late August to challenge the Connecticut Tigers for a Wild Card playoff spot.
Coming down to the last day of the season, the Cyclones beat the Yankees in Staten Island for a record of 42-34, and were disappointed when they returned to the locker room only to find out that the Tigers had also won and edged them out to squeeze into the playoffs.
Away from the field, Gamboa stated that he enjoyed the Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn and especially the Avenue Z luncheonette where he soaked up the outer borough urban experience of a diverse neighborhood.
However, the best off-field experience for Gamboa came when he was able to take a day off to play the famed Winged Foot Golf Course in Westchester. Just when it looked like a washout for the day, the Palm Springs golf enthusiast had his day made when an opportunity to play the whole world-class course opened up after the skies had cleared.
Now with golf in the background, this year’s new Cyclone team is Gamboa’s main concern as he prepares young (18-21-year-old) first and second year minor league players for the “little big league” atmosphere of Brooklyn and the New York Penn League.
After spring training camp breaks in April for the New York Mets as well as their four minor league club above Brooklyn, Gamboa will stay behind to prepare for the season in extended spring training (April to mid June), sort of a boot camp for young Met hopefuls.