By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
If it ain't broke ... you know the rest.
For the first time in their history on Coney Island, the Brooklyn Cyclones will have the same man in the dugout and along the third-base line for the third consecutive summer.
Rich Donnelly, who has helped the Baby Bums to the New York-Penn League playoffs in each of his first two seasons at the helm of the nation's most successful and closely watched Class A short-season franchise, will be back at MCU Park come June, when the Cyclones kick off their 13th campaign.
The 66-year Steubenville, Ohio native has made a home away from home on Surf Avenue, becoming an instant fan favorite and a manager young players seem to swear by.
It was difficult to imagine Cyclones diehards embracing a skipper as much as they did former Met icon Wally Backman following his departure from the Brooklyn dugout following the 2010 season.
But Donnelly is clearly the people's choice, and he, along with returning batting instructor Bobby Malek and pitching coach Marc Valdes, will get at least one more shot of bringing home the team's first NY-Penn crown since the inaugural 2001 campaign.
“Rich, Bobby and Marc helped lead us to a fourth straight playoff berth in 2012,” said Cyclones General Manager Steve Cohen. "We are excited to have them back again this season as we continue our quest for a New York-Penn League Championship."
Donnelly, a 30-year veteran third-base coach at the Major League level, has led Brooklyn to 90 victories in 150 games during his tenure, resulting in back-to-back playoff berths.
Last summer, the Cyclones went 45-31 to grab the circuit's wild-card spot before losing their first-round playoff series to eventual champion Hudson Valley in three tough games. In 2011, Brooklyn made a mad dash to the postseason under Donnelly before falling in the first round to eventual champ Staten Island in another three-game classic.
Though a championship is what Brooklyn fans crave most, the Mets organization is well aware that Donnelly serves them best as a sage mentor and disciplinarian for their draft picks and free agents as they enter the world of professional baseball.
The Cyclones will kick off the 76-game 2013 season on June 17 at Staten Island before hosting the rival Yankees at MCU Park on June 18 in their home opener.