In 2002 the Staten Island Yankees won their second NY-Penn League title thanks to a strong pitching staff. That staff included future MLB players Chien-Ming Wang and Brad Halsey. It also included young right-hander Ryan Bicondoa. Bicondoa, signed as a non-drafted free agent, he became one of the work-horses of the staff.
Congratulations on being named go the Staten Island Yankees 15-year team. Is it surprising to hear the fans remember you fondly that you were voted on the team?
“It’s definitely surprising that I would be recognized as there have been MANY good pitchers come up through Staten Island, with a lot of them on their way to the big leagues!”
What do you remember most from your time on the Staten Island Yankees?
“The number one thing I remember most about playing in Staten Island was 25 miles away from Yankee Stadium! That was the first time I had ever been to NY and was a HUGE Yankees fan growing up with Mattingly and Bernie as my idols. There was obviously many other things that were so great about that summer. The team was perfect, great friends that I still stay in touch with today, a CHAMPIONSHIP, great fans, the awesome Chinese food place right next to the ballpark, the staff especially Jane & just experiencing the city. It was my favorite summer of baseball!”
How was it to play in New York With the skyline behind you?
“The skyline was the best thing about the ballpark, and the ballpark was awesome! Sadly I wasn’t able to experience the towers, but I doubt there are too many other fields in the nation that have a better view!”
What was it like playing on that 2002 team with guys like Robinson Cano, Chien-Ming Wang, pitching coach Neil Allen and manager Derek Shelton?
“We had a great team that year with a lot of talent and guys who went on to the big leagues. Everyone knew that Wang was gonna move up quickly and do great. I knew Cano was good, but I didn’t know at the time that he would’ve gone on to what he is now. It’s awesome to say that I played with him for two seasons! Both of them are great guys and have enjoyed watching their careers. I stayed in touch with Wang until a few years ago. Neil was such a great guy and pitching coach. He was always so positive and just let you go out there and pitch by having fun. Really missed having him as a pitching coach. I have ran into him a few times along the way and he’s always been the same sincere awesome guy Shelton was fun to play for. Like Neil, he just let you be you and go out and have fun.”
After playing for the Yankees you carved out a solid career in the Independent leagues. What was the difference playing in those leagues and for the Yankees?
“Well obviously there is nothing like playing for the Yankees, especially when you grow up idolizing them. I was lucky enough to play on some amazing Independent League teams, some maybe not so great, ha. Independent ball is very good and competitive and is just like any other minor league team, along with the talent. I think the main difference is it feels more like a team in Independent ball, as in the Minors you have guys moving up and down all the time and maybe playing more for themselves. Of course guys get released and traded in Independent ball and I’m sure are selfish in their ways, but it just has a feel of a team like college more than in the minors. Also, no sweet spring training gear like the Yanks handed out, ha!”
What are you doing now?
“Now I’m a husband & dad to two awesome kids and I coach baseball at a local high school. Two years ago was my last year playing and I miss it very much. I was lucky enough to play for 11 years and baseball led me to my wife, a lot of great friends and many amazing stories and memories!”
Anything you would like to say to the Staten Island fans?
“I would like to say “thank you!” to all the fans and I appreciated all their support for us back in 2002. I loved every time I was able to pitch at home and it was a pleasure to pitch in front of all those great fans at Richmond County Bank Ballpark!”