There is a buzz around MCU Park for the 2014 New York-Penn League All-Star Game, as the excitement builds about the showcase of the best players in the league, the Cyclones added an All-Star to the Coaching Staff in Interim Pitching Coach Dave LaRoche.
LaRoche, who spent 14 years in the Majors, has enjoyed his time coaching the team while pitching coach Tom Signore misses some time due to an injury.
“It’s been very good, there is a lot of talent here, a lot of good kids, beautiful ballpark. I have enjoyed New York. I am always amazed by the whole scene. I have enjoyed my time here very much,” he said.
Playing in the big leagues LaRoche has seen many big crowds and feels that MCU Park is good for the Brooklyn players to get a feel of what it is like to perform for a big market team.
“I think this is good. They see it here (crowds), this is not like playing in some of the smaller towns in the league,” LaRoche said. “There is a lot of action here. They get use to a lot of media attention here, so it is kind of a good start for them.”
During his career LaRoche, who was 65-58 and recorded 126 saves, played for five different teams while making two All-Star game appearances in 1976 and 1977. The lefty developed a slow curveball, with a big arch, called “La Lob,” which came to formation as a fluke while he was warming up one day when he was with the Angels. After a couple of years working on it the pitch made its debut.
“This whole process was probably a couple of years, off and on, and finally when I got good with it, it was like a dare ‘why don’t you throw it in a game?’ So my last game with the Angels in 1980 the starter got knocked out in the first inning, I came in to start the second, used it six, seven, eight times got three or four outs with it, gave up one hit.” he said.
The following season, when he was with the Yankees the pitch was a favorite to everyone in the Bronx.
“I showed it in New York and the fans loved it, the media loved, it and it was working. When I came in when we were behind it loosened everyone up , and so games we came back because everyone got involved. I would turn around to look at (Greg) Nettles,(Bucky) Dent, and (Willie) Randolph, and any of the infielder’s, and they had their mitts over their face because they would be cracking up,” LaRoche said.
A couple of Cyclones pitchers have asked LaRoche to show him the pitch but LaRoche doesn’t think they are ready for it yet.
“I have had a few players ask me to teach them it, but I told them they are not old enough yet.”
Along with his success in the majors, LaRoche is a Major League Father. As his sons Andy, who plays with the Blue Jays, and Adam, who plays with the Nationals, have provided many memories for him.
One of his favorite moments of watching the two came in 2009, when they both played for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Someone got a picture of them taking their practice swings at the same time and that was just neat seeing them, also Andy making a play and throwing it across to Adam that was very rewarding. Watching them be successful and fulfill their dreams is just exciting.”
Dave LaRoche is using his combined experiences to help develop Brooklyn pitchers, so that they can have the same type of success as Andy and Adam, but also the long line of Cyclones players who have been able to make it to the Major League level. LaRoche also knows what it is like to play in New York, as he was able to play in the 1981 World Series while wearing the Pinstripes, while also appearing in the All-Star game.
His advice to the Brooklyn pitchers who appears on the mound against the league’s best hitters is simple but important.
“Enjoy it have fun, it’s an opportunity to face all the best hitters all in one place, go out and show them what they can do.”
For more information about the Brooklyn Cyclones fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: