Nearly three weeks since Hurricane Sandy ripped through New York City, most residents in Manhattan have returned to their regular routines. But in other areas, especially the Rockaways and Staten Island, victims continue to suffer from the devastation left in its wake.
At Foley’s New York Pub and Restaurant in the shadow of the Empire State Building, on 33rd Street between Fifth and Madison avenues, one hometown hero — former Mets and Yankees pitcher David Cone — did his part to help out, with a stint as guest bartender. On Nov. 15, the atmosphere at Foley’s was thick with excitement as Cone prepared for his role, with all of his tips going to Sandy victims.
The ball player-turned-bartender played the part accordingly. “My goal is to learn to pour a proper Guinness,” said Cone with a smile.
Although Cone played to the crowd with a charismatic and humorous attitude, he did not forget that he was present to raise awareness and provide assistance to hurricane victims. As a sports hero, Cone wanted to use his celebrity status to shed light on the cause and urged other athletes should do the same.
“The players that live here year round, especially them, they should rally to help,” he said.
Cone spent 10 years, combined, playing for the Mets and the Yankees and still feels a strong connection to the city.
“This is a cause that’s going to be here for a while,” he said, about assisting Sandy victims. “it was so devastating and we don’t even have the full scope yet, both personally and monetarily.”
Once Cone was behind the bar, throngs of men rushed forward, some still in business attire, others in blue jeans and dark jackets. The crowd filled the narrow passageway from the bar and overflowed into the dining area. Camera phones and point and shoot cameras were held high; everyone wanted to get a photo of the star pouring them a beer.
John Torrey, a local entertainment lawyer who grew up in Manhattan, came to Foley’s specifically to see Cone do his work. Torrey is a big fan of Cone, both for his time as a player and for all of the charity work he has done since leaving baseball. He created a Facebook page to drum up support for getting Cone inducted into the Hall of Fame. “He’s such a good guy and I did [the page] because I believe he deserves it,” said Torrey. “He did most of his stuff for this city and the city should galvanize to support him.”
Others, like Marty Plavel, expressed admiration for Cone.
“We walked out of the office to come do this,” said Plavel, 57, who has lived in New York for 22 years and currently works as a consultant. “I’m from Pittsburgh, I couldn’t be a Mets fan. I’m a Pirates fan so I started taking my son to Yankees games.”
Plavel fondly recalled the day, 14 years ago, that his son decided to pass on a game at Yankee Stadium — which ended up being Cone’s perfect game, with no batters making it to base. “’Dad, I’ll never forgive you for not taking me to the perfect game,’” Torrey laughed as he quoted his son’s words.
Cone’s presence drew donations from patrons who didn’t even know that the night was dedicated as a fundraiser at Foley’s. Jason Ruello, 29, of Brooklyn, was caught off-guard by the ball player’s presence behind the bar. “I come to this bar all the time, I didn’t even know this was going on tonight.”
Ruello already had a tab open on his credit card, but when he got his drinks from Cone he handed a crisp $20 bill across the bar.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Ruello, happily.