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Cyclones celebrate expectant moms

"Bellies and Baseball" night includes Lamaze class, craving station
July 20, 2009
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- During the sixth inning of Sunday evening's Brooklyn Cyclones game, the following announcement came over the PA: "If any fans in attendance are ready to have their baby, please report to the info booth immediately."

Welcome to "Bellies and Baseball," the Cyclones' all-encompassing salute to pregnancy.

The evening didn't result in any births at the ballpark, but it wasn't for lack of trying. One of the Cyclones' many special offers was lifetime season tickets to any woman who went into labor while in the confines of KeySpan Park (expectant Moms can still score some free ducats, however, just by naming their child "Brooklyn" or "Cy").

Unlike most conceptions, "Pregnancy Night" began in jest.

"We thought it was a unique idea, and like some of the other things we do, it started out as a joke," said Cyclones communications director Dave Campanaro. "But the more we played around with it we realized there was a lot of stuff we could do and have fun with ... It was one of those promotions that kept us on edge, though, because we didn't really know how many [pregnant women] would actually show up."

Campanaro's anxiety seemed justified, at least initially. A pre-game Lamaze class on the outfield grass was the evening's first event, and it started with just three couples participating. But over the ensuing 20 minutes, nine more sets of expectant Moms and Dads joined in.

"In the short period of time we were at the class, we learned a lot of different squatting techniques, which I'm sure will be helpful," said Manhattan-based Dad-to-be Joe Pisch, who participated along with his wife Ana Luna-Pisch.

A wide variety of squatting techniques were also on display during the ceremonial first pitch, as a small army of Cyclones players were called upon to catch balls thrown by women in their third trimesters. The player assigned to catch Luna-Pisch's pitch was southpaw hurler Brandon Sage.

"With a name like Sage, I should have asked him if we would be having a boy or a girl," she said.

Another highlight of the pregame festivities was "Barefoot and Pregnant," in which women stated their name and how far along they were ("Emily, 34 weeks!" ... "Candace, 30 weeks!") before taking a leisurely stroll around the basepaths. This culminated in the presentation of gift baskets to the two women who were most advanced in their pregnancy (the baskets featured a wide array of products from the evening's sponsor -- Palmer's Cocoa Butter).

After all that activity, the women were invited to visit a "Craving Station" located on the home plate concourse. Stocked with pizza (with or without anchovies), ice cream, pickles and black olives, this array of culinary delights was available only to those with a proverbial "bun in the oven." Cyclones intern Ian Solomon was given the task of manning the Craving Station, and a large part of his job seemed to be telling hungry men that, no, he would not be able to provide them with a slice of pizza.

Throughout the game, the team tailored its between-inning promotions to the pregnancy theme. For example, expectant Dads were able to get in the act by competing in the "Trimester Tricycle" race and the "Water Break" water balloon toss. But the grand finale came during what was christened "Seventh-Inning Stretch Marks", as over a dozen pregnant women returned to the field in order to sing "Take Me Out To the Ballgame."

All told, the promotion was something the Cyclones would definitely consider staging again.

"We think this one can carry over [into next year]," said Campanaro. "We already do a "Baby's First Ballgame" promo, so [Bellies and Baseball] ties into our plan to create whole families of Cyclones fans."

The only aspect of the evening that was a disappointment was the lack of a KeySpan Park birth.

"We were actually hoping for a game that would go 30 or 40 innings, in order to give everyone as much time as possible," joked Campanaro.

But -- who knows? -- 2010 may be a different story.

"[This year] was just bad timing," said Luna Pisch, who is seven months pregnant. "Next year, we'll definitely plan ahead."

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for