Call it “Cluck Luck.”
Forget batting practice and fundamentals; all it took to rouse the Cyclones bats on their last road trip was the emergence of the rally chicken.
“I was walking around the mall,” said hitting coach Scott Hunter, “and I saw a rubber chicken for sale at Spencer’s, so I figured we’d have a little fun with it.”
Hunter brought the novelty noisemaker to the Cyclone dugout and, imitating the bird, told players, “If you need some luck, make me cluck.”
By the end of the road trip — which included two sweeps — the players had adopted “Clucky”, who was installed in a place of honor in the clubhouse ceiling, where he could be easily squeezed for good luck.
Soon enough, the bird was assigned uniform number 00 and was given its own locker, which was decorated with baseball equipment, photos of models and other quirky gifts.
And the winning continued.
After a sweep of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the Clones took on the hated cross-Narrows rival Staten Island Yankees, taking a home-and-home series that began on Staten Island July 28. There, the Brooks defeated the Yanks 10–6 before heading home to Keyspan Park where Clucky again worked her (his? Its?) magic.
Down 4–3 with two-outs and the bases clear in the bottom of the ninth, a distinctive “cluck” could be heard from the Cyclones dugout as Mark Wright worked out a walk. A few moments later, the crowd — and, ostensibly, the chicken — went ballistic as Tim Grogan lined a double to left-center field to tie the score.
One inning, a double and two walks later, Clucky could be seen celebrating atop a pile a Cyclones after Dan Cummins lined a walk-off single to end the game (inset).
Hunter said the chicken harked back to his days in the Triple-A, where one of his teammates kept a rubber chicken in the clubhouse to keep things loose.
Cyclone reliever Grady Hinchman said Hunter is “big on that [chicken],” adding, “They’ve got an emotional connection or something.”
He may not be the only one, however: In the first 10 games following the chicken’s debut, the Cyclones went 9–1.
— Nick Pauly and Vince DiMiceli
Despite a record that flirts with .500 like a cheerleader flirts with a power-hitter, the Clones broke their all-time single-game attendance record by packing in 9,307 fans — four more than the previous mark, set on opening day 2005 — for last Saturday’s game against their cross-bay rivals, the Staten Island Yankees.
And all that root, root, rooting for the home team paid off: The Cyclones won 5–4.
The over-capacity crowd — which also broke a New York–Penn League record — was made possible through the sale of 475 last-minute, standing-room tickets.
— Gersh Kuntzman
After hitting under the Mendoza Line and rotting on the bench for much of the season, Wright found himself in the lineup as the designated hitter — and he gave the scouts something to talk about. His numbers for the week: 11 for 23, including one homer, six runs scored and three RBIs.
Starting pitchers Eric Brown and Tobi Stoner received honorable mention. — Pauly
— Gersh Kuntzman
June 29, 2006 issue