Top Moments of 2016 – #5
A new week means that we are that much closer to flipping the calendar to 2017. It also signals the continuation of our countdown of the Top Moments of 2016. Last week, we knocked the first two off our list of seven moments from this past season. To recap, here they are:
July was clearly a memorable month for the Ducks organization in 2016. There were many great on-field moments that highlighted the exciting season, but there were also some important off-field milestones accomplished during the month. Long Island has supported the Ducks incredibly since the inaugural 2000 season, and the franchise has led the Atlantic League in attendance during 14 of its 17 seasons of play. That dedication and passion was clearly shown on July 3 when the ‘Faithful Flock’ packed the ballpark like never before. Here’s our #5 moment from 2016:
The Record is Broken – July 3, 2016
The Ducks have welcomed many large crowds throughout their history on Long Island. Whether it was an exciting promotion or an intense matchup on the field, local residents loved coming to Central Islip to watch their hometown team play. On July 4, 2009, a total of 7,582 fans packed what was then known as Citibank Park to celebrate Independence Day with the Flock. That figure set the franchise single-game attendance record, a mark which had been set just the previous night with a crowd of 7,308, jammed inside the 6,002-seat ballpark.
Although the Ducks welcomed many fantastic crowds since 2009, none had ever surpassed that total. That was until the night of July 3, 2016. One night prior, Ducks fans were euphoric following a win over the Sugar Land Skeeters that clinched the First Half Liberty Division title and moved John Brownell into sole possession of first place on the team’s all-time wins list. With Ducks fever sky high and the always popular Independence Day Grucci Fireworks Extravaganza on tap, Long Island was ready to wrap the perfect bow on the first half.
On a gorgeous Sunday evening, fans streamed into Bethpage Ballpark one by one to enjoy all the festivities planned for the evening. Players donned their special patriotic jerseys, which were auctioned off throughout the game, and the giant American flag was unfurled behind home plate for the National Anthem. As the game began, the Ducks seemed to feed off the energy of the crowd. Long Island tagged Skeeters starter Brett Marshall for single runs in the second and third inning and added two more runs in the fourth to take an early 4-0 lead. Meanwhile, Darin Downs cruised on the mound with seven strikeouts over seven innings of two-run ball.
As the game wore on, the attendance numbers were calculated by members of the Ducks front office. After checking all the final ticket purchase numbers, the realization set in that the record had been broken. 7,602 was the official final tally, and as public address announcer Bob Ottone informed the crowd of the total, a huge roar went up from the seating bowl. It was a special moment for all in attendance that night, from the fans in the stands to the players on the field. The attendance also marked the 656th sold out crowd in team history, which is also a league record. The Ducks continued to use the crowd’s energy to its advantage, as the bullpen sealed a 5-2 win to close the first half with a league-best 40-30 record.
Following the game, manager Kevin Baez shared the experience of playing before the record crowd. “You felt it! It was awesome!” he recalled. “They were into the game, and you could really hear the roar of the crowd. To have a fireworks night like that and end it with a ‘W’ was very special.”
Posted on December 19, 2016, in Feature Articles and tagged 2016, Atlantic League, Attendance, Bethpage Ballpark, Central Islip, Fireworks, Kevin Baez, Long Island Ducks, Record, Top Moments. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.