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