15th Anniversary Team: Manager
Happy baseball, Ducks fans! With the Second Annual Fan Fest officially in the books, baseball season is finally upon us. Following up this weekend’s home-and-home series with the Bridgeport Bluefish, the Ducks still have two more exhibition games to play before the regular season gets started on Friday, April 25 in Somerset. Before that game, however, we still have final business to attend to.
Two spots remain on the 15th Anniversary Team. Last week, fans voted for the best closer in franchise history. It was a tight vote between five deserving nominees, but ultimately, one of the closers prevailed. His identity, along with the rest of the “Flock 15” team, will be unveiled in the 2014 Ducks Commemorative Yearbook, which will be available for the first time on Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark, Friday, May 2 against the York Revolution.
As for this week, we look at the best managers in Long Island Ducks history. Every manager in franchise history is included in this week’s list of nominees. From Bud Harrelson in the inaugural season to current skipper Kevin Baez, every season in Ducks history is represented. Here are the nominees:
Baez has not only won an Atlantic League championship and been a part of the All-Star Game as a player for the Ducks. He has in fact done both multiple times as a manager for the Flock. The 2004 Atlantic League champion shortstop began his managing career with the Ducks in 2011, following in the footsteps of former big leaguers Gary Carter and Dave LaPoint. Since that point, Baez has led the Flock to over 200 regular season wins, four half-season Liberty Division titles, three consecutive Liberty Division championships and back-to-back Atlantic League titles. The 2002 All-Star has also served as the manager of the Liberty Division All-Star team in 2012 at Camden and 2013 at Southern Maryland. While he has yet to win Atlantic League Manager of the Year honors, the Brooklyn native has gained the utmost respect from his players and will look to become the first manager in league history to “three-peat” as a champion in 2014.
Known around baseball as simply, “The Kid,” Gary Carter managed the Flock for one season (2009). That year, Long Island went 74-66 and won the Second Half Liberty Division title, clinching the team’s sixth consecutive postseason berth. In the postseason, Carter’s Ducks fell to the favored Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in a memorable, five-game Liberty Division Championship Series. His .524 winning percentage overall is the second best in team history behind Bud Harrelson. As a team that year, Long Island finished second in the league in batting (.286), third in slugging (.416) and fourth in home runs (105). The MLB Hall of Famer, who won a World Series as a member of the 1986 Mets, sadly passed away in February of 2012 after a brave battle with Brain Cancer. The Ducks subsequently dedicated the 2012 season to him, wearing #8 patches on the sleeves of player jerseys, and went on to win an Atlantic League championship in his honor.
Adored by New York baseball fans, Harrelson has been involved with the Ducks since their inception in 2000. The first manager in team history, “Buddy” is also a part-owner and the Senior VP of Baseball Operations with the Ducks. Though he only spent one season as skipper of the Flock, Harrelson enjoyed tremendous regular season success, amassing an 82-58 record. That .586 winning percentage is the highest managerial winning percentage in team history. Despite the success, the Ducks were unable to earn a postseason berth in their inaugural season, and Harrelson moved to a coaching role the next season, a position he continues to hold to this day. The two-time World Series champion with the Mets has gone on to help lead the Ducks to three Atlantic League titles in his coaching role with the Flock.
LaPoint managed the Ducks for three seasons (2007-08, 2010) sandwiched around Gary Carter’s lone season as manager of the Ducks. In his three years, LaPoint led Long Island to a 213-191 regular season record along with two playoff appearances. His 213 wins rank him second all-time among Ducks managers behind Don McCormack (399). In his first year at the helm, the former big leaguer led the Flock to a 72-54 record, along with a postseason berth. After falling to the Newark Bears in the Northern Division Championship Series, LaPoint returned the following season and led the Ducks to another winning record (71-69). However, that season would also end with a first round playoff loss, this time to the Camden Riversharks. After serving as the pitching coach under Carter in 2009, LaPoint returned as skipper and posted his third winning season with Long Island in 2010 (70-68). This time though, his team failed to make the postseason.
McCormack, our final nominee, is the longest tenured manager in Ducks history. He spent six seasons at the helm on Long Island and amassed a franchise record 399 wins. While McCormack led the Ducks to four winning seasons and three playoff berths, his most notable season came in the magical 2004 campaign. That year, the Flock finished the regular season with a 65-61 record and earned the first playoff berth in franchise history, but that was only the beginning. After defeating the Nashua Pride in three games to advance to the Atlantic League Championship Series, McCormack’s Ducks swept the Camden Riversharks in three games, earning Long Island its first-ever Atlantic League title. He then went on to make the playoffs the next two years, including a 75-53 regular season record in 2006, before his reign as Ducks manager came to an end.
There they are fans, your 15th Anniversary Team managerial nominees. The preceding names all are some of the most recognizable in franchise history, and each is certainly deserving of a spot. We recognize that this will not be an easy decision. Vote carefully fans because your choice will be for the man that leads the “Flock 15” team. You can cast your ballot in the poll below. Just one more week of voting remains after this!
Posted on April 21, 2014, in Weekend Debate and tagged 15th Anniversary Team, 2014, Atlantic League, Bud Harrelson, Championship, Dave LaPoint, Don McCormack, Flock 15, Gary Carter, Kevin Baez, Long Island Ducks, Voting. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.