Opening Day Banner

News

BASEBALL: OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE CYCLONES

Learning the game of baseball and becoming one of the premiere players in our national pastime isn’t an easy task for any professional baseball player. One of the biggest challenges for many players isn’t fielding ground balls or executing the perfect pitch: It’s the English language.

Sixteen players on the Brooklyn Cyclones hail from countries where the primary language is spanish. Despite being exceptional ballplayers, they struggle with the english language. Fortunately for them, Cyclones’ catcher Nelfi Zapata is fluent in both English and Spanish.

“I know what it’s been like to not know the english language,” Zapata said. “It’s tough to learn that second language, but I’m always here to help them learn. They come up to me when they need help buying something.”

The Cyclones have helped the spanish-speaking players learn the language by providing english classes to the players. On occasion, Zapata finds himself playing the role of translator during media interviews.

“Some of the guys really like to learn it,” Zapata said. “(Cyclones pitcher Gabriel Ynoa) was talking to one of his friends and (Ynoa) doesn’t know much English. He asked me to translate and to help him out with writing too.”

Zapata, 21, was born in the Dominican Republican and moved to New York when he was only one month old. After living with his family in the U.S., they decided to move back to the Dominican Republic for another five years. When Zapata was nine years old, they moved back to the U.S. again and haven’t left.

“I started learning the ‘right’ English when I was in high school,” Zapata said, “I started learning in fourth grade. It’s not something you will learn overnight, it takes time.”

Zapata is an alum of Boston English High School in Massachusetts and was drafted in the 19th round of the 2009 draft by the New York Mets. He was the first player to be drafted out of his high school.

“It was a great experience,” Zapata said about his high school days. “I was lucky to be the first one to be drafted out of high school at Boston English High School. It’s an honor to be the first one.”

The first passion for the majority of baseball players was the game of baseball itself. For Zapata, this was not the case.

“I used to be a soccer player before I played baseball,” Zapata said. “I wasn’t interested until I saw two guys playing long toss. I said ‘Wow, this is a good game’, and my big brother and I were able to learn the game together.”

The fourth year professional has had an up and down career in the minors. Zapata was having arguably his best season with the Cyclones in 2011, with the highlight for him coming on opening day against Staten Island where he hit a solo home run off of current New York Yankee Phil Hughes.

“Every year I’ve been able to work on my defense and it’s gotten better,” Zapata said. “This year, my weakness was my hitting. I worked on it this offseason, in particular, laying off of the breaking balls.”

MCU Park has led the New York-Penn League in attendance for 11 years in a row. Last season, an average of 7,002 fans attended Cyclones home games.

“I like playing on Coney Island because it’s a great area,” Zapata said. “It’s got the beach right there and the Cyclone. I’m the type of player where my energy goes up when I hear the fans go crazy. I love the fans, they get me pumped up.”

-- by Mike Baggerman
for BrooklynCyclones.com



Search Archive »





Browse by Month »

September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
February 2007
Stop N Shop
Coney Island Parking
Community Partners