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Cyclones announcer dies of heart attack

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Warner Fusselle, the voice of the Brooklyn Cyclones, died of a heart attack on Sunday night, members of the minor-league baseball team said. He was 68.

Fusselle, a veteran radio broadcaster affectionately known as “The Fuse,” joined the Cyclones before the team’s inaugural season in 2001 and called nearly every game in the team’s history. He was preparing for his 12th season behind the microphone when he passed.

Longtime colleagues said Fusselle’s charm, baseball knowledge, and signature “Live from the Catbird’s seat” call — a tip of the hat to legendary Brooklyn Dodgers announcer Red Barber — before every game quickly endeared him to fans coming to Coney Island’s MCU Park.

“He could do anything as a broadcaster,” said Ed Shakespeare, a close friend and Brooklyn Paper Cyclones columnist who sat next to Fusselle during hundreds of home games. “Warner was a consummate professional. The Cyclones were lucky to have him.”

Cyclones General Manager Steve Cohen said the team — which is scheduled to kick off its season on Monday — was left rattled by the news.

“There is no one who knew more — or cared more — about baseball in Brooklyn than Warner,” Cohen said.

Fusselle was born in Kentucky in 1944 and raised in Georgia. He announced games for the American Basketball Association’s Virginia Squires and hosted “This Week in Baseball,” a national sports program.

But he was best known for his 11 years covering the Cyclones.

Fusselle brought an old-school work ethic to the “Catbird seat” and spent hours pouring over players’ statistics. He famously refused to use a computer, opting instead to keep score with a paper and pen — a quirk that earned him the respect of the hard-bitten Cyclones reporters he worked with.

Former Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman said Fusselle’s talents rivaled some of the Mets’ greatest announcers.

“No one short of Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner was better than Warner in a rain delay,” said Kuntzman. “He set the bar for minor league broadcasters.”

Fusselle is survived by his sister and two nephews.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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Reader Feedback

Andrew Kent from Manhattan Beach says:
A month or two ago, a female friend and I were having a late night dinner at the fried chicken place on Brighton Beach Avenue when this affable gentleman strikes up a conversation with us. He neither looked nor sounded like any of the locals who frequented the place, and he remarked that neither did we, and when I asked about his slight southern accent, he said that he was from Georgia.

We had a nice conversation, mostly about the neighborhood, and then went our separate ways, only to meet again a few weeks later at a local ATM, also in the late evening. Then, barely a week ago, my friend ran into him again at the chicken place, where they chatted for nearly two hours about all sorts of things, including how they both don't use computers, but my friend never asked, nor did our new acquaintance disclose, who he was or what he did for a living.

Neither my friend nor I know or care much about sports, and I hadn't been to a ball park since the Dodgers left Ebbets Field, so, until a couple of days ago, we had never heard of Warner Fusselle and were shocked and saddened to learn of his passing. Nice guy. May he rest in peace.
June 12, 2012, 11:51 pm
James Dorseey from Gainesville GA says:
I grew up with Warner in Gainesville, GA. His father was a Baptist minister...and baptised me into the church. I still remember Warner and I spending many hours during the baseball season listeng to his beloved St. Louis Cardinals. He was a unique individual and I cherish the memories of knowing him. God rest his soul.
June 13, 2012, 7:57 pm

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