Longtime Brooklyn, N.J., Post 72 assistant baseball coach Mike Brown wasn’t in Boston last year for Game 1 of the World Series with the rest of his team. While Brooklawn was being honored for winning The American Legion Baseball World Series, Brown was back home with his son, Cody – a former Brooklawn player who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Cody not only recovered, but he is now playing baseball for Central Connecticut State with his twin brother, Casey. And Mike was back with his team Tuesday night, this time at Kansas City’s Kauffman Field for Game 1 of the 2014 World Series between the host Royals and the San Francisco Giants. Brooklawn won its second-straight Legion World Series title in August to secure a second trip to Major League Baseball’s Fall Classic.
“This is a real cool experience,” said Mike, an assistant coach for Brooklawn since 2006. “A lot of the kids got to go last year, too, but I didn’t because of my son. It’s just great to be able to be here with the team this time.”
Brooklawn’s coaching staff and 17 players arrived in Kansas City midway on Tuesday and will head back to New Jersey on Thursday. Today, they’re headed to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and then to lunch at Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue. Tonight, they’ll be honored on the field before Game 2 of the Series.
Most of the players spent Tuesday day rooting for the Royals, who lost 7-1. But it wasn’t just about the outcome.
“I’m speechless right now,” said Brooklawn pitcher Rocco Mazzeo, now a freshman at Rowan College in New Jersey, as the two teams were in pregame warm-ups. “I would never have imagined coming to a World Series game. I’m just taking it in. I’m really excited to be here.”
Brooklawn’s starting shortstop, Phil Dickinson, now a freshman playing baseball for Wagner College in New York, has been to multiple World Series games – including last year’s Game 1 in Boston with the rest of his Brooklawn teammates. But that didn’t take any of the excitement away from Tuesday night.
“It’s always exciting to see a new ballpark,” Dickinson said. “(Kauffman Field) is different from any ballpark I’ve ever seen. Every stadium you go to at any time is a different atmosphere. You get a different atmosphere with the crowd. You can see different places.”
Dickinson said he’s been playing with many of his Brooklawn teammates since he was 12 years old. “We’re a very close-knit team, and I think chemistry is the biggest thing about winning,” he said. “A lot of coaches think best players, best talent … but (Brooklawn manager) Dennis Barth goes for chemistry. And I think what has he helped us the past two years was our chemistry.”