Bigs returning to Brooklyn for a day

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Bigs returning to Brooklyn for a day

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Bigs returning to Brooklyn


By Kevin Czerwinski

NEW YORK -- It's been 46 years since the Boys of Summer ended their love affair with the city of Brooklyn. While Fred Wilpon knows that he can never permanently bring Major League Baseball back to the borough where he first fell in love with the game, the Mets' principal owner will do the next best thing.

Wilpon announced on Tuesday that he will indeed bring the big leagues back to Brooklyn, if only for a day. That day will be March 30, when Wilpon's Mets will go through their final preseason workout at Brooklyn's KeySpan Park. The Coney Island-based facility is the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones; the Wilpon-family owned team and Mets' affiliate in the Class-A New York-Penn League.

The workout, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., will be the final chance fans will have to see the club before it opens the season on March 31 against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium. Admission to the workout is free though tickets are required to gain entry into the park. Fans can only pick up their free general admission tickets in person at the Cyclones ticket office beginning Thursday at 9 a.m. Some tickets have already been distributed to Cyclones' season-ticket holders so availability may be limited.

"It's really nostalgic for me, as a kid from Brooklyn, to be part of bringing a Major League team back to Brooklyn, if only for a workout," Wilpon said. "There are a lot of memories from Ebbets Field and of players like Duke [Snider]."

This will mark the first time since Sept. 24, 1957 -- the date of the last game played at Ebbets Field -- that an entire Major League team will take the field in Brooklyn. The Mets have had several players do rehab work with the Cyclones over the last two seasons but never have been at KeySpan Park as a complete unit.

Demolition work on Ebbets Field began on Feb. 23, 1960, officially ending the city's love affair with the Dodgers. Brooklyn, however, remains a loyal National League town with many of the Cyclone fans coming from traditional Met-centric areas of Connecticut, Queens, Long Island and Brooklyn itself. In fact, according to the Cyclones, 26 percent of their fan base is made up of people 51 and older, a demographic that would have allowed them the opportunity to be Brooklyn Dodger fans.

So when Jeff Wilpon, who is the COO of both the Mets and Cyclones came up with the idea to hold the workout, it was heartily embraced by the elder Wilpon as well as the rest of the organization.

"The schedule worked out the right way," Wilpon said. "We play an exhibition game against the Orioles on Saturday at Shea so we didn't need to have a workout there to get the guys familiar with the ballpark. We just needed to take some infield and have BP so I thought it would be different to do something in Brooklyn."

A sellout is expected to see Mo Vaughn, Cliff Floyd and Jeromy Burnitz launch a few BP homers onto Coney Island's infamous boardwalk while Mike Piazza will get his chance to send a shot off the famous Coney Island roller coaster. While tickets are free, concessions are not. All proceeds, however, will be donated to local charities.
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