Cyclone skip gets call to the “Bigs” but still misses Brooklyn

June 9, 2014 Jim Dolan
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Probably of all the Cyclone managers who moved on, Rich Donnelly’s move to the “Bigs” was the most surprising of all. After heading the Cyclones for the last three years (2011 to 2013), Donnelly was recruited by Seattle to manage the Mariners’ Triple-A Tacoma team. Soon after he accepted the Tacoma position, the third base coaching position opened up in Seattle and Donnelly found himself working for one of his former players, Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon whom he coached in Pittsburgh some 20 years ago.

“I was really looking forward to returning to Brooklyn to become the first four-year manager of the Cyclones,” stated Donnelly in a June 1 phone interview from Seattle. “Out of the blue. I get this call and just like that here I am in the Big Leagues. It seems like only yesterday that I was managing the Penn League All Star Game in Connecticut and then suddenly I’m in the third base coaching box on opening night.”

Looking back on his three years living close to MCU Park in an apartment in Sheepshead Bay, Donnelly — a self-proclaimed “Citizen of Brooklyn” — stated that he would miss the comfort of that neighborhood while he away from his native Steubenville, Ohio.

“I’m going to miss my morning routine at my luncheonette and my afternoon trip to the ball park each day. Brooklyn was one of the best places to play baseball,” said the 67-year-old fan of New York City Doo-Wop music.

When asked what his new role was like as a major league coach, Donnelly explained that instead of teaching the game to young minor league players, he was now somewhat of an advanced scout for his team. “I have to study the tendencies and know the arm strengths of the other team’s outfielders so our guys don’t get thrown out,” explained Donnelly. “I also have to know the abilities of our own players so I can get them to score from third base.”

Most of Donnelly’s former Cyclone players have moved up to the Mets’ Triple-A or Double-A farm teams but have yet to get a call up to the Mets. However, catcher Kevin Plawecki at Double-A Binghamton is quickly establishing himself as a future offensive receiver who the Mets may want to bring up sometime soon to help with their offense.

“I keep track of all my guys; they’re doing great at every level and I keep in touch with them too,” said Donnelly, who just finished giving some advice to former 2011 Cyclone shortstop Danny Muno at Triple-A Las Vegas. “Whether they’re in a Met uniform or someone else’s, I will always follow my guys.”

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