Racquetball

An MTA employee has a secret weapon to direct crowds to the US Open, Citi Field in Queens

He is Queens’ most revered hard shot at the US Open.

MTA Tremayne Cradle Traffic Checker – whose job title is to help straphangers get where they need to go – has become essential at the Mets-Willets Point subway station during the noisy and busy two weeks of the event.

As the No. 7 train screeches through the station, Cradle, 45, can be seen and heard behind a megaphone directing people to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center for the Open, while trying to get the baseball fans at Citi Field.

“It’s show time,” Cradle told the Post. “I love to megaphone. I love seeing people and directing traffic. It’s a lot of fun.

Cradle, a Bronx-born resident living in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, may not have Serena’s grace or deGrom’s slider, but he crafted the rallying cry for subway riders and pedestrians trying to find their way between busy playoff baseball action and the nearest franchise represent a Honey Deuce.

“Tennis! Baseball! Tennis! Baseball!” Cradle shouts through his megaphone.

Cradle spent 22 years with the MTA as a traffic checker. Working in Queens between 13 stations from Court Square to Jamaica, his usual duties include counting passengers on buses and subways, installing updated maps at stations regarding service changes and other needs. of customer service. He said it’s a great job for the benefits and to be able to see different people every day.

games and the Mets game at Citi Field.” class=”wp-image-23821490″ srcset=”https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/09/mta-worker-sport-crowds-002.jpg?quality=75&strip=all&w=1535 1536w, https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/09/mta-worker-sport-crowds-002.jpg?quality=75&strip=all 1024w, https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/09/mta-worker-sport-crowds-002.jpg?quality=75&strip=all&w=512 512w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/>
The MTA Tremayne Cradle traffic controller has become a staple at the US Open in Queens directing foot traffic to tennis games and the Mets game at Citi Field.
Kyle Schnitzer

But it was on the promenade between Citi Field and the Tennis Center during The Open that Cradle became a folk hero and created a rallying cry for subway riders.

He uses a megaphone given to him by a higher MTA to aid him in his loud plea.

In the first week of tennis mania, the Mets and Dodgers also opened a pivotal three-game series that looked like October baseball on August 30. The game, which the Amazins lost in a stink to the Dodgers, 4-3, drew 40,607, a near sellout at Citi Field.

Simultaneously, the US Open was breaking attendance records, where fans flocked to get one last glimpse of Serena Williams and watch perhaps the most exciting Grand Slam of the year, and most certainly Queens’ best Grand Slam since. long time. The US Open is expected to break an all-time high by the end of the tournament on Sunday.

Cradle has been helping sports fans in Queens for two weeks with his bullhorn.
Cradle has been helping sports fans in Queens for two weeks with his bullhorn.
Kyle Schnitzer

For anyone who braved the subway ride to Flushing during the sports madness, it can be overwhelming once you get to Mets-Willets Point.

According to Cradle, the boardwalk can become a “tsunami wave” of people, especially late at night when taxis and Ubers arrive to take people home. So he was told to direct traffic.

“My team knows that I like this type of work. So they said, “Cradle! We need you to go out there and represent us,” Cradle said. “I came on Tuesday and I started losing my voice.

“People here can’t really hear you because of the trains or the planes,” he said. “Once you lose your voice, you are no longer good. So I said, “Give me the megaphone!” which made my job easier. »

The moment for the mission came on the first anniversary of the death of Cradle’s mother. April Cradle died of COVID-19 last August after recovering from lung cancer. She was 66 years old. He said this mission provided a needed distraction.

In the underpass of Mets-Willets Point Station, Cradle’s arm swings back and forth like a smooth tennis rally; he embraces the small stage, the Timmy Trumpet of bullhorns, directing foot traffic to baseball at Citi Field and tennis fans south on the boardwalk. It might be because he likes to dance in his spare time, but he’s been a welcome addition to the pandemonium this time of year.

His audience-pleasing performance was captured in a short video put online. It’s fast gone viralcapturing the beauty of the last days of August in Queens, or as Cradle simply puts it: “Tennis. Baseball.”

Speaking with Cradle, he quickly apologized for a stutter he’s had all his life. He wears a mask behind the megaphone as it helps him speak more easily.

“Since I stutter, I can only say certain words for so long. My boss told me to say, “Racquetball, yellow ball. Baseball, white ball,” Cradle said. “I was like, ‘Man, this is too much’ only because I stutter. I mean, I could say it, but then I started mixing it up. Baseball! Tennis!’ jingle is easier to say, isn’t it?

Over the past week, Cradle has had to create different iterations on the Megaphone. Citi Field hosted a rare football match for New York City FC when the team took on FC Cincinnati on September 7.

He kept it simple.

“Football! Tennis! Football! Tennis!” he shouted.

“It’s my office megaphone. I keep it in my bag. It’s heavy, but it’s my megaphone. When it comes to crowds, there’s nothing quite like it” , did he declare.

MTA travel checker Delano Gibbs, 26, of Jamaica, holds a megaphone on the stairs down to Citi Field. He said his interpretation didn’t match Cradle.

“He’s got good energy and a good spirit,” Gibbs said. “I told him a few days ago – he knows how to get the best out of people.”

Cradle said a few people asked to use the megaphone to sing his jingle. He posed for pictures here and there. Even the MTA got on board when one of its associated accounts tweeted a photo of the Mets-Willets Point sign modified with Cradle’s words.

At the end of the US Open, Cradle said, he will return to his normal travel controller duties. He hopes to one day become a bandleader with the MTA, where he’ll likely fit right in on the intercom.

Until then, he is aiming for next year.

“I would love to be on the bullhorn next year,” he said. “I would like to do every event at Citi Field, every event they have.”