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On Aug. 6, about 40 women and some Brooklyn Cyclones instructors were up early to take part in the second annual Ladies Clinic at Keyspan Park.
The female participants, ranging in age from 13 to 50-somethings, received instruction from Cyclones pitching coach Steve Merriman, pitcher Bobby Parnell, outfielder Caleb Stewart, infielder Ivan Naccarata and executive Rob Field.
“We had a lot of fun,” said Staci Bromberger, who has attended the clinic both years. “It was well organized, but also relaxed and fun for the instructors, as well. And this year, we even got to play a one-inning game, the Parnells against the Stewarts.”
The participants learned about power hitting from Stewart, who taught them the proper follow through on a swing, and the ladies learned about pitching mechanics from Parnell and Merriman. Rob Field helped them with fielding tips, and Naccarata went over footwork, likening the proper infield steps to dancing the salsa, a notion he picked up from Cyclones coach Juan Lopez.
“It’s a lot different when you actually get up there to hit,” added Bromberger, who struck out in her at-bat against Naccarata. “He was maybe throwing 60 or 70 miles an hour. I can’t imagine what it must be like to face someone throwing 90 or 95.”
“Actually, I was only throwing about 30 miles an hour,” claimed Naccarata, who received praise from the participants for both his instruction and fun personality, despite having a rather tough morning.
It seems Naccarata, a veteran of public transportation in Montreal, is a rookie on the Brooklyn subways. In attempting to get to Coney Island from visiting his brother, who was staying in Manhattan, Ivan had a bit of confusion.
“I took the wrong train, the R train, got off in Bay Ridge, looked around and said to myself, ‘This isn’t Coney Island!’” he recalled.
Naccarata eventually navigated the subway to reach Keyspan, but once there he committed a definite “no-no” — he broke two nails, not his own.
“One was when I was throwing the ball to one of the women,” said the chagrinned infielder. “And I broke the other on a different lady, on a ground ball.”
Naccarata, despite his morning adventures, had a good time at the clinic, as did the other instructors and the participants.
“Right from the start,” added Bromberger, “We could see that the Cyclones were having fun, and that made it fun for us as well.”
A character guards the upper deck
On any given game night, there are over 8,000 stories at Keyspan Park, and this is just one of them.
“I’m a director of Keyspan Park,” says Arnie Rubin. “Actually, I’m an usher, but director sounds better and I do direct people to their seats.”
Rubin, 62, is the Keyspan Park usher on the upper deck — the fourth floor when taking the elevator. In other words, Rubin’s perch is directly behind the Catbird seat on the other side of the press box.
A former hockey player, the 320-pound Rubin plays in a men’s over-50 league near his Long Island home. He loves his work, even though he can’t see the ball games from where he works.
Not only does Rubin direct fans to their seats, he also keeps unauthorized persons out of the sky boxes.
“When Darryl Strawberry was here, dozens of people came up to the fourth floor, saying that Darryl had waved them up” said Rubin. “Right, Darryl’s gonna wave dozens of people up to his box.
“I kept them out,” said Rubin, proudly.
Rubin also works as an extra for movies and television shows. He recently was an extra in an episode of “The Sopranos,” and he has been in four films.
He has also been on the Late Show with David Letterman five times.
Once, one of Letterman’s New Year’s resolutions was written on Rubin’s stomach, and on another Letterman appearance, during a hockey strike, Rubin posed as a former 180-pound hockey player who occupied his time while on strike by eating. Hence, he gained 200 pounds.
Some years ago, Rubin participated in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and ate 14 hot dogs. The next year, he took part again and ate 12 dogs.
“So I quit,” said Rubin. “My stats were only going down.”
Always large, Rubin was a catcher in Little League when he lived in Brooklyn.
“You know how base runners slam into the catcher on a close play at home?” asks Rubin.
“Well, I used to block the plate and slam into them.””
All-star game set for Tuesday
The New York-Penn League announced the selections for the league’s inaugural All-Star Game, which will be played at Keyspan Park on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 7 pm.
Selected from the Cyclones are pitcher Bobby Parnell, third baseman Josh Petersen, and outfielder Joe Holden.
The Cyclones will be part of the National League-affiliated All-Star Team.
Tom Prince, the manager of the Williamsport Crosscutters, will manage the NL All-Stars while Andy Stankiewicz, the Staten Island Yankees manager, will manage the American League-affiliated All-Stars.
At press time, very few standing-room-only tickets were left for the game. .
August 20, 2005 issue
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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