20th Anniversary Team Voting – Manager
19 seasons of Long Island Ducks baseball have come and gone. Players from all around the world and of all varieties of baseball experience have worn the Ducks uniform since the first pitch on April 28, 2000. In that time, they have played in front of nearly 8 million fans in Central Islip, and millions more around the rest of the country. Those players and coaches have also earned three Atlantic League Championships, seven Division Championships, 13 half-season Division Championships and over 1,300 victories. As the Ducks 20th Anniversary Season, presented by Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, approaches, it is time to determine which members of the Flock have stood above the rest.
Our final week of voting is upon us! We have gone through the entire lineup of position players and pitchers over the past several months, and fans have done a terrific job of voting to help decide which players will be represented on the 20th Anniversary Team. While this exclusive group looks fantastic thus far, it still needs one important thing: a manager. During the team’s first 19 seasons of play, a total of five different men held the position of field manager for the Ducks. Each one of them had previous Major League experience and quickly became fan favorites on Long Island. While all five found success with the Ducks, only three were selected as nominees. Here are the candidates:
The first manager in Ducks history was also one of the people who helped bring professional baseball to Long Island. Co-owner Bud Harrelson served as the skipper during the team’s inaugural season of 2000. Already a fan favorite in the area after playing shortstop on the New York Mets 1969 World Series championship team and coaching for the team’s World Series triumph in 1986, Buddy became even more beloved in this new role. During the Ducks first season of play, Harrelson led Long Island to a fabulous 82-58 record during the regular season. That mark was tied for the most wins and best winning percentage in the Atlantic League in 2000, dead even with the Nashua Pride, and the 82 victories are still the most in a single-season in franchise history. Six of Harrelson’s players also earned ALPB All-Star Game selections. Unfortunately for Bud and the Ducks, Long Island finished second in the North Division during both the first and second halves of the season, shockingly leaving them outside of the playoff picture. Despite that fact, the 2000 team remains one of the most special in club history, thanks in large part to Buddy’s “loosie goosie” style.
After Harrelson moved into the role of first base coach in 2001, the second manager in team history was Don McCormack. Our second nominee for the manager position brought two seasons of MLB experience playing with the Philadelphia Phillies to Long Island, and he proceeded to serve as Ducks manager for six seasons from 2001-06. The highlight of his tenure came in 2004 when he exorcised the Ducks postseason demons, leading the Flock to the first half North Division title and their first playoff appearance. After finishing the regular season at 65-61, the Ducks overcame a loss in their postseason opener and reeled off five straight wins, all by one run, to earn the first Atlantic League championship in team history. McCormack accrued a regular season record of 399-371 during his time with the Ducks and a 6-5 postseason mark, guiding the team to three consecutive playoff berths from 2004-06. His 344 victories stood as the club’s managerial record until the third nominee on our list overtook him.
Kevin Baez is the only manager in team history to have played with the club before eventually serving as its manager. He spent four seasons as a player for the Flock from 2002-05 and was a key contributor to Long Island’s 2004 Atlantic League championship team, winning All-Star Game MVP honors that season. After serving on the Ducks coaching staff for six seasons, he was named the team’s manager in 2011. The Brooklyn native proceeded to lead the Ducks to two Atlantic League championships, six Liberty Division titles and seven half-season Liberty Division titles in his eight seasons at the helm. Baez guided the Flock to their back-to-back league titles in 2012 and 2013, becoming the first person in league history to win a championship as both a player and manager. The former New York Mets infielder managed in three Atlantic League All-Star Games as well (2012, 2013, 2018), leading the Liberty Division to a 4-3 walk-off win in the 2018 event at Long Island’s Bethpage Ballpark. His 502 wins are most in franchise history by a manager, and he compiled a 502-459 regular season record along with a 24-22 postseason mark.
The final chance to vote for the 20th Anniversary Team has arrived. Who will round out this exclusive group of talented Ducks? It’s up to you to help choose. Cast your vote for Harrelson, McCormack or Baez over the next week by clicking the button below. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!
Thank you to all who helped select the members of the Long Island Ducks 20th Anniversary Team. The winners will all be unveiled in the 20th Anniversary Commemorative Yearbook, which is slated to be available starting on Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark (Friday, May 3rd).
Posted on April 19, 2019, in 20th Anniversary Team and tagged 20th Anniversary Season, 20th Anniversary Team, Atlantic League, Bethpage Ballpark, Bud Harrelson, Don McCormack, Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, Kevin Baez, Long Island Ducks, Manager, Voting. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.