When Tyler Badamo took the mound on Friday night, one of the 35 or so friends and family members he said were in attendance caught his attention.
It was his 4-year-old daughter, Brooke.
"She was screaming, 'Daddy!' the whole time," said Badamo, a 22-year-old righthander for the Brooklyn Cyclones. "It was very nice."
It also was a chant that hadn't fallen on Badamo's ears during many of his professional games.
The Mount Sinai native, who posted a 1.74 ERA in 31 innings last summer for the Gulf Coast League Mets after getting drafted that June, is now a car ride away from home. Friday night was the Cyclones' season opener, and Badamo started on the road against the Staten Island Yankees in front of his daughter and fiance, Ashley, Brooke's mother.
Brooke and Ashley, who live in Mount Sinai, had visited Badamo in Florida during spring training, but this was different. This was New York.
"It's a far hike for them to come out here, but they can do it, which is the difference between here and Florida," said Badamo, who pitched for Dowling. "It's nice that they have the option to come out here, and I can set them up with tickets whenever I need to."
Badamo treated them to a solid showing, allowing two runs and striking out five in six innings. The Cyclones beat the Staten Island Yankees, 3-2, in 12 innings.
At a level of the minor leagues where 22 is not exactly young, Badamo displayed his maturity in the second inning. He allowed a two-run homer with none out, giving Staten Island a 2-0 lead. He responded with a pair of strikeouts and retired 12 straight Yankees before surrendering a leadoff single in the sixth.
"He's very mature for this level," pitching coach Dave LaRoche said.
Badamo partially attributes that trait to Brooke. She entered his world in April of his freshman year at Dowling. Badamo had no choice but to become more responsible. His maturation process was accelerated 13 months earlier, when his father, Matthew, passed away.
"Within that 13 months, it was a little rough," Badamo said, "but it made me grow up and it made me the pitcher that I am today. I've been through so many bigger things that the small things, I don't really sweat too much."
Nearly four months in Florida for an extended spring? That was a small thing, in Badamo's opinion. He used that time to add a changeup to an arsenal that includes four-seam and two-seam fastballs, a slider and a knuckle curve.
He said he threw 14 of his 18 changeups against Staten Island for strikes.
"It really helps him keep the hitters off balance," LaRoche said. "He can throw strikes with all his pitches. It just gives the hitters one more thing to think about."
Soon enough, Badamo will have one more thing to think about. Ashley is pregnant with a boy, who Badamo said is due in September.
"I love being a father," Badamo said. "The first year was a little rough, not knowing what was going on and trying to figure out school and baseball and a child. But after that it's been pretty much smooth sailing."