When the season began on June 20, the Brooklyn
Cyclones consisted of players from all over North America, with many of them not knowing who each other were. Such is usually the case with many
NY-Penn League teams, having extended spring training and the short time after being drafted as the only opportunities young
players have to get accustomed to their new teams. Building team chemistry in situations like this is often haphazard at best,
but fiery and energetic Cyclones hitting coach Scott Hunter has never listened to convention.
Having been ejected from a few games this
season and forcing Brooklyn manager George Greer to come out of the dugout to save him from being sent
to the clubhouse a few times as well, Hunter has continually challenged the 2006 Cyclones to give him their best every time
they step to the plate. Underneath the obvious emotions he shows during each and every game, there has definitely been a method
to his madness, with his go-getting attitude and tough work ethic being a huge factor in the recent resurgence of Brooklyn’s
Despite all the hard work Hunter has done
this season however, it wouldn’t be until he tried something completely out of the ordinary that the fruits of his labor
became apparent for everyone, especially opposing pitchers, to see.
While doing a little shopping with his
family at a local mall before a recent Cyclones road trip, Hunter came across a rubber chicken at Spencer’s, a party/
gag gift store, that made a loud clucking noise when squeezed, convincing him that it would be the perfect thing to cut the
tension in the Brooklyn clubhouse that has never been through a losing season.
Originally being stationed on a rope and
a hook attached to the ceiling outside of Greer’s office, the chicken, who was named Rally somewhere in the middle of
the team’s recent 15-3 hot-streak, has even been in the dugout during a Cyclones game this season as pitcher Nelson
Portillo, one of the few players on the team who doesn’t speak English, brought Rally out during the 26-inning marathon
against Oneonta to try and get the team going.
“It’s just kind of funny, I
like it,” said Cyclones catcher Jason Jacobs. “It keeps us loose knowing that Rally is backing us up everyday.”
What originally started out as a ploy to
get the team going offensively has all of a sudden brought an entire team together, eliminating the different languages they
speak and the countries they call home that are so far away from each other on the map, creating the team chemistry the team
sorely needed to compete.
In an effort to celebrate what Rally has
done for them during his short tenure with the team, the Cyclones gave him his own locker that besides being home to several
pictures of near-naked women has put him right in the middle of the clubhouse, just in case anyone should need to squeeze
him for good luck.
“I guess he deserves it,” said Cyclones left fielder Dustin Martin. “We’ve
been winning a lot lately. It brings the lighter side of the clubhouse out and keeps us loose.”