No. 1: Connor Spencer’s New York-Penn League Batting Title
When you think of the lineage of Staten Island Yankee players who have made their impact in Major League Baseball, there’s more than enough batters who come to mind. Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera are names that pop up, but none were able to accomplish what one Baby Bomber did in 2014.
Connor Spencer was the New York Yankees eighth round selection in the 2014 First Year Player Draft. The California native joined Staten Island after Opening Day, following his appearance in the College World Series with UC-Irvine. Spencer made an immediate impact on the team, playing both outfield and first base on his way to being named a New York-Penn League All-Star. The former Anteater standout led the New York-Penn League in batting with a .364 average, becoming the first Staten Island Yankee to ever lay claim to the league’s batting title. Spencer also led the Baby Bombers in hits (72) and on-base percentage (.389).
Media’s Choice: “I spoke to Connor Spencer in the clubhouse prior to the season finale. What a down-to-earth young man! He was definitely the 2014 MVP with his glossy batting average, but I’ll remember him as a tremendous team guy with an amazing work ethic. He has a sense of humor, too, which will serve him well in the seasons ahead.” – Jim Waggoner, Staten Island Advance
No. 2: HOPE Week
Introduced in 2009 and continuing into its sixth year in 2014, the New York Yankees’ HOPE Week initiative (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture. The Staten Island Yankees adopted the parent club’s initiative in 2011 and carried the tradition into 2014 for a fourth season. In mid-August, Staten Island Yankees players, front office staff and Scooter the Holy Cow spent time visiting different locations on Staten Island, brightening the day of many individuals. Below is the schedule of events the Staten Island Yankees took part part in:
Wednesday, Aug. 13: Bowling at Rab’s Country Lanes (Staten Island, NY) with Lifestyles for the Disabled
Lifestyles for the Disabled works to develop programs that provide intellectually disabled participants with realistic work settings and experiences within the Staten Island community.
Thursday, Aug. 14: Baseball drills with The Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program at the College of Staten Island
The Melissa Riggioi Higher Education Program is a college-based program designed to prepare people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities for adult life through higher education coursework, career exploration/preparation, self-awareness and socialization.
Friday, Aug. 15: Meet and Greet with residents at Eger Nursing Home (Staten Island, NY)
Saturday, Aug. 16: In-game “Home Run for Life”
During the Staten Island Yankees game against the Tri-City ValleyCats, family members of the Florina Rusi-Marke (former cancer patient) took a trip around the bases in honor of the legacy she left as part of Staten Island University Hospital’s Breast Health Awareness Night.
Blogger’s Choice: “Giving back to the community is something I take seriously. With that said, the one thing I am happy to see the big club extend to the minors was HOPE Week. One week of the team giving back and showing the community they care is something you can’t buy.” – Robert Pimpsner, Pinstriped Prospects
No. 3: Chris Breen Walk-Off HR vs. Brooklyn
There isn’t a single game in the Staten Island-Brooklyn Battle of the Boroughs series that isn’t emotionally charged, and Aug. 25 was no different. The Baby Bombers entered the game with a 34-33 record while arch-rival Brooklyn entered the game 38-30, in a great position to take the Wild Card spot in the New York-Penn League playoffs.
Before the game began, Cyclones all-star third baseman Jhoan Urena was ejected from the game for a “delay of game” following a NYPL memo sent to teams earlier in the season warning of “face-offs” after the National Anthem. The ejection led to heated game that saw each team score only one run in the first nine innings.
With playoff implications on the line, the Staten Island Yankees took the ballgame into bottom of 10th inning tied, 1-1. Already with six home runs on the season, Yankees slugger Chris Breen hit his biggest bomb of the season with two outs, a towering shot to centerfield to give the Baby Bombers a huge late-season win, 2-1. It was Breen’s seventh homer of the season as the Florida native finished with a team-high eight home runs in 2014. Though Staten Island ultimately missed the postseason, if the Brooklyn Cyclones had won this game, they would have likely made the NYPL playoffs as the lone Wild Card team.
No. 4: More Than Just Baseball
In 2014, the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George served as more than just a baseball stadium. Sure, the ballpark was named Staten Island’s Best Sports Facility by Staten Island Advance readers, but there were more reasons than just sports that got the venue noticed in 2014. From hosting Wagner High School’s graduation to being the film location for national commercials, Richmond County Bank Ballpark had quite the year. Check out some of its prominent uses from last year below.
As part of Derek Jeter’s farewell tour, Nike’s Jordan Brand filmed this tribute commercial at the ballpark featuring the likes of Spike Lee, Rudy Giuliani, Jon Lester, A.J. Pierzynski and Derek Jeter himself, all of whom made appearances at the ballpark for the shoot. The commercial made its television debut during the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.
Recall seeing these regional AT&T ads? They were filmed in Richmond County Bank Ballpark as well!
In May, Richmond County Bank Ballpark returned as the host site once again for the 4th Annual Touch-A-Truck Fundraiser for the Staten Island Children’s Campaign. The fundraiser featured dozens of trucks available for kids to explore, arts & crafts on the concourse, along with games and inflatables on the field.
One of the most exciting Sunday mornings in 2014 in Staten Island was certainly the New York Road Runners Staten Island Half Marathon. Nearly 10,000 running enthusiasts crossed home plate of Richmond County Bank Ballpark greeted with a Baby Bombers-style congratulations by Scooter the Holy Cow!
No. 5: Fake Moustache World Record Attempt
What makes a more memorable night at the ballpark than being part of a world record? On Friday, Aug. 2, the Baby Bombers gave fans that opportunity. After a first attempt at the record was unceremoniously rained out on Opening Day, we knew we had to try again for the record.
On a perfect Friday night, 3,219 donned the the fake ‘staches to help unofficially break the world record for most fake moustaches worn in one place at one time, sponsored by Curious Traveler. It was a night at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George that won’t be forgotten any time soon!
Media’s Choice: “The Yankees hit a promotional home run not once, but twice, with this stroke of genius. It will go down as the best promotion in the team’s history, unless Steve Violetta has more aces up his sleeve for the summer of 2015.” – Jim Waggoner, Staten Island Advance
No. 6: Costume Week
What would Minor League Baseball be without some wackiness at the ballpark? This summer, the Baby Bombers invited fans all all types to tap into their alter egos for Costume Week! Richmond County Bank Ballpark welcomed pirates, princesses, goons, goblins, and some of the finest pro wrestlers around for a few games filled with disguises. Here’s a look back at the festive series of games that was Costume Week.
Wednesday, July 30- Disney’s Pirates & Princesses Costume Party: The crew from Radio Disney helped the Baby Bombers throw an awesome costume fun for all the pirates and princesses of New York City!
Thursday, July 31- Sgt. Slaughter special appearance: Pro wrestling legend Sgt. Slaughter made his way to Staten Island to spice things up. The former WWE star signed autographs, met fans and even performed his infamous cobra clutch on a few lucky (or unlucky) patrons.
Friday, August 1- Summer Spooktacular: Finishing off Costume Week was the Halloween-inspired Summer Spooktacular. Fans of all ages dressed in their best disguises for this family-fun night. Even local viral sensation, the Staten Island Clown, made an appearance at the ballpark for some spooky hi-jinx.
No. 7: Dog Days of Summer
For the first time in the team’s 15-year history, the Staten Island Yankees welcomed dogs to Richmond County Bank Ballpark for “Dog Days of Summer”! More than 100 dogs ventured to the ballpark with their humans to watch the Baby Bombers take on the Vermont Lake Monsters on a late August night. The game was filled with tons of festivities for dog lovers, including a pre-game agility demonstration on the field by some of our four-legged friends from the Westminster Kennel Club.
Dog Days of Summer also served as a benefit for two local organizations, Angels on a Leash and Fur Friends in Need. A portion of each dog ticket sold was donated to the organizations, and a few precious dogs were available for adoption in the ballpark. Speaking of adoption, the Staten Island Yankees welcomed a new member to the mascot family at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.
With the recently defunct Newark Bears closing their doors, Effa was left without a ballpark to call home. The Staten Island Yankees added Effa to the mascot family, adopting the bear, giving Scooter the Holy Cow and Red another pal to roam the ballpark with. We can’t wait to see all our dog friends and Effa at the ballpark again in 2015!
No. 8: Back to Baseball with Hideki Matsui
The Staten Island Yankees welcomed fans back to the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George after a long, cold winter on April 12 for the official release of single-game tickets for purchase. The headliner of the event was no other than 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui. The Japanese baseball icon greeted local Little Leaguers and fans and signed autographs while the Baby Bombers sold a total of 637 single-game tickets on the first days of sales. April 12 marked the first day that fans were able to buy tickets for the biggest theme nights of the summer, such as Salute to Bacon, the Fake Moustache World Record Attempt and many more. As the sun rose that Saturday morning, fans began to line the sidewalk of Richmond Terrace, setting the mood for an exciting day.
Back to Baseball not only marked the first official day for single-game ticket sales, but was also the unveiling of Flagship Brewing Company’s special Staten Island Yankees beer, America’s Pastime Summer Ale. When you pair baseball with a beautiful Spring morning, it’s never too early for a new craft brew!
Missed April’s event? Check out our original blog post here!
No. 9: Torrens & Tejeda Hit Streaks
If there was one position the 2014 Staten Island Yankees excelled in, there’s no doubt it was at catcher. This year’s team boasted a pair of New York-Penn League All-Star catchers in 18-year-old Luis Torrens and returning Baby Bomber Isaias Tejeda.
Torrens started his season with Full Season Single-A Charleston before being sent down to Staten Island. Torrens, the New York Yankees No. 10 prospect, played up to the hype that followed him, putting together a 21-game hit streak during the season where his batting average rose as high as .396. The Venezuela native cooled down during the back-end of the season, finishing the season with a .270 batting average, hitting two home runs and 18 RBI. Despite the slow finish, Torrens has a bright future ahead and will be a name to watch in the Yankees farm system through the coming years.
No stranger to the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George, Tejeda looked comfortable all season long in his fourth year with the Baby Bombers (Tejeda played one game with Staten Island in 2011). The Dominican Republic native led the NYPL in doubles with 21 on his way to a mid-season 20-game hit streak, finally earning himself a spot in the NYPL All-Star Game. Tejeda finished the 2014 season with a .276 batting average, five home runs and 29 RBI.
Blogger’s Choice: “This was fun. Luis Torrens is one of the best prospects I have ever seen play in Staten Island. I have been coming to games since 1999 to put that in perspective. Torrens is a guy that can hit, though I am still trying to find out if he does have a team record with his 21-game hitting streak. Though it was overshadowed, Isaias Tejeda put together a nice 20-game hitting streak. I have known him for a few years now, and he is one of the nicer guys I have met. I was genuinely happy to see him have a great year this year. He did deserve it.” – Robert Pimpsner, Pinstriped Prospects
As another eventful year in St. George comes to end, we have a lot to reflect on. From celebrity appearances to breakout performances on the field, the Staten Island Yankees’ 15th season on the Island was eventful to say the least. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be counting down the ten best moments of 2014 to get you caught up to speed for a promising 2015. We also paired up with long-time Staten Island Yankees beat writers Jim Waggoner and Robert Pimpsner, who give their takes on a few of the biggest events from the last 365 days. Enjoy!
No. 10: Where’s Wags?!?
When it comes to the Staten Island Yankees, veteran Staten Island Advance sportswriter Jim Waggoner has seen it all. From the championships to the wackiness off the field, you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who has seen more of the Baby Bombers over the last 15 years than Waggoner. But 2014 brought a new level of experience for Wags as he gained first-hand knowledge in various areas of the operations that go into producing a success baseball game.
Just like the Staten Island Yankees staff, Waggoner spent more time during games working behind the scenes than watching baseball, something he hasn’t been accustomed to doing during his tenure at the Staten Island Advance. Just like any reputable reporter, Wags dove in head-first to paint an accurate picture to his readers about what it’s really like to work for a minor league team. His ballpark escapades involved being a member of the grounds crew (read: pulling tarp), bullpen duty, ushering fans to their seats, scouting prospects, serving fans in the concession stands, and a rare look at what it’s like to be Scooter the Holy Cow. Missed the series? Catch up here:
Media’s Choice: “I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun during my long Staten Island Advance career than writing a first-person series of behind-the-scenes articles from the St. George ballpark. I was an usher, a scout, even a mascot … but the night I was allowed to don the pinstripes and sit among the young ballplayers in the bullpen is impossible to top. A half-year later, I’m still running into people who bring up the series and telling me how much they enjoyed it.” – Jim Waggoner, Staten Island Advance
Blogger’s Choice: “Wags had youthful energy this year, best I have seen him in a long time. So when he started doing the series on jobs around the ballpark I knew I had to be there for the day he did the grounds crew. It was perfect, it had rained earlier in the day so they had to pull the tarp. I got to the ballpark early, saw them getting ready and called him to tell him to get to the park before they do it.” – Robert Pimpsner, Pinstriped Prospects