(Long Island, NY) They are called the ‘Baby Bombers.’ The Staten Island Yankees are accumulating titles just as the parent club has. The New York-Penn League short season single-A affiliate has amassed three league championships in their first seven seasons, nothing to sneeze at. And they enter the new season in June as the reigning champions after a two game sweep over the Auburn Doubledays.
The Staten Island Yankees were born in 1999 after serving as a Cleveland Indians farm club in Watertown, New York. The Yankees took control of the team and they played their first two seasons at a refurbished College of Staten Island. They won the NYPL championship in only their second season and opened up Richmond County Bank Ballpark in 2001 by raising their first banner. The backdrop of the stadium has a view of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. A pretty sight while enjoying a ballgame, I might add.
The SI Yankees also won the league championship in 2002 and finished in last place of the McNamara Division for two straight seasons before bouncing back all the way in 2005. Former Yankee infielder Andy Stankiewicz led them to the championship after returning for a second go-round as manager. He was at the helm in 2003 before another ex-Yankee, Tommy John, took over for one year in 2004.
The rivalry between the Yankees and Cyclones has been well chronicled since the Mets placed their own NYPL team in Brooklyn in 2001. Dubbed either the ‘Ferry Series’ or the ‘Battle of the Bridge,’ these games can be as intense as when the two parent clubs meet each regular season in their ‘Subway Series.’ It gets started right away this year, with the two teams playing a ‘home-at-home-at-home’ three game set to begin the season. The SI Yanks travel to Coney Island on June 20th, have their home opener on June 21st when they host the Cyclones, and then go back to Brooklyn on June 22nd.
The list of team alumni is long. Nothing less should be expected from an organization such as the New York Yankees to produce prospects from even the lower level of their minor league system. The following players have reached the majors after plying their trade in Staten Island: Jason Anderson, Wily Mo Pena, Rosman Garcia, Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano, Brad Halsey, Andy Phillips, Sean Henn, Brandon Claussen, Alex Graman, Melky Cabrera, John-Ford Griffin and Dave Parrish.
They sport the same famous home uniforms with the pinstripes and road grays as the big league Yankees. They are successful on the field and at the gate. When you look at it, they are not that different from the team that plays in the Bronx.