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On June 25, 2001, Angel Pagan became the first Cyclones batter in the history of MCU Park. That season the speedy outfielder quickly became one of the most popular players on the squad and ten years later he continues to rank among the franchise favorites. Pagan hit .315 (75-238) with a whopping 46 runs scored and 30 stolen bases in 62 games for the Cyclones in the first year of the teams existence. In 2010, the native of Puerto Rico spent his first full season in the major leagues and showed the fans in Flushing what Cyclones fans knew years before…Angel is a superstar in the making. Recently he sat down with BrooklynCyclones.com.
BrooklynCyclones: Angel your first game with the Cyclones was the first game back in Brooklyn since the Dodgers had left in the 1950’s. What was that first game like for you?
Angel Pagan: Well it was an honor to be part of that team in 2001. I remember the first game and how exciting it was. I was out in the outfield for the first pitch of the game and remember thinking it looked like the Super Bowl or something with all the flash bulbs going off. The atmosphere that day was like playing in the big leagues. That is the only thing I can compare it to. Everyone was so excited and so into the game, it was an amazing experience.
BC: Had you ever been to New York before you were sent to the Cyclones?
AP: Never. I remember my flight into the city, and I was looking out the window at all the sky scrapers and the traffic and the houses. I was a little overwhelmed. Then when I got here that first year, I was living in a high school about 15 minutes from the ballpark. We actually were sleeping in classrooms because they had air conditioning in there. None of us could afford rent, so that’s where we had to stay.
BC: Other than Opening Day, what sticks out in your mind the most from the 2001 season?
AP: We had a great team. There were so many great moments. That home run on Opening Day was huge, we had some pretty long winning streaks, beat Staten Island in the playoffs. The thing I remember most though was being there during the attacks on September 11th. We came back from Williamsport the night before and were all living in a hotel near JFK airport. I remember going to the roof and watching all the smoke. A bunch of the guys on the team had been to the Twin Towers a couple of weeks before so we knew how big they were from being there first hand. I remember that like it was yesterday.
BC: Well a few years after you left the Cyclones you ended up making the big leagues, but with the Cubs not the Mets. You eventually got traded back to the Mets and have obviously found a home in New York. What was the experience of being traded like for you?
AP: It was tough leaving the Mets and going to the Cubs. I had played in the minor leagues with the Mets for six years, I had a close group of friends that I had moved through the system with, but when I went to the Cubs, it was sort of like starting all over again. But the Mets were always my home, so coming back to New York and then last year getting my chance to play every day and have success. It’s been great. I love it here.
BC: Last year you came back to Brooklyn to throw out the first pitch. This year the Cyclones are making you your own bobblehead. Have you seen an early sketches of it and what do you think about the idea?
AP: I have actually seen the early plans. It looks great. Should look a lot like me. I am really excited for it actually. I’ve never had my own bobblehead before. That’s pretty big time, I guess I’ve almost made it big time. I think the night they are planning on doing it, is an off night for the Mets. So I hope I can bring my family out to Coney Island that night and be back where it all started for me.