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20th Anniversary Team Voting – Manager

Harrelson-McCormack-Baez

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:


Bud Harrelson
Buddy Harrelson Action Shot

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.


Don McCormack
Don McCormack Action Shot

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
Kevin Baez Action Shot

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!

20th-Anniversary-Team-Voting-Button-Manager

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).

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20th Anniversary Team Voting – Closer

Wagner-Simas-Rosales

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.

One of the most important positions on any team is that of the closer. The person filling this role needs to be confident and poised getting the ball in the most high-leverage situation during a game. When a team has the lead over the final inning or two, it’s his job to secure the victory and keep the opponent at bay. Throughout their history, the Ducks have had some big names fill this role. Just last year, 16-year MLB veteran Francisco Rodriguez, who has the fourth-most saves in Major League history, took on the role of Ducks closer. This week, we look back at three of the very best closers to wear the black and orange. Here are the nominees:


Matt Wagner
Matt Wagner Action Shot

Although the Ducks missed out on the playoffs during their inaugural season in 2000, their closer did everything in his power to get him to the promised land. Matt Wagner joined the brand new Long Island Ducks that year after making 15 appearances (14 starts) in the Majors with Seattle during the 1996 season. He proceeded to turn in a year that, to this day, is arguably, the greatest season ever by a Ducks closer. Wagner tied for the Atlantic League lead with 61 appearances and ranked first with 36 saves, 11 more than any other pitcher in the league that year. The save total still ranks as the franchise’s single-season record today. The former third round draft pick went 3-3 with a 2.26 ERA and struck out 69 batters while walking only 18 over 63.2 innings of work. He deservedly was selected play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game, and his performance was a major factor in helping Long Island post a league-best 82-58 record, which remains as the franchise record for most wins in a season. Wagner went on to pitch for three more seasons, including 2002 with the Road Warriors and 2003 with both the Newark Bears and Atlantic City Surf.


Bill Simas
Bill Simas Action Shot

Another former big leaguer is our second nominee for the position. Bill Simas spent six seasons with the Chicago White Sox from 1995-2000, appearing in 308 games, before joining the Ducks in 2004. In Long Island’s Fifth Anniversary Season, he helped deliver the team and the community its first Atlantic League Championship. The right-hander led the league with 17 saves that year and posted a 1.95 ERA over 44 appearances. In 50.2 innings, he struck out 53 batters while walking only 14. Simas also recorded some big-time saves, closing out Long Island’s win in Bridgeport on August 9, 2004, to clinch the Ducks first-ever postseason berth and both of the team’s playoff series clinchers (all of which were one-run games). The former sixth-round draft pick returned to the Ducks in 2009 and earned an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection. He led the league once again with 27 saves and ranked third in appearances with 60. Simas ended the season with a 5-4 record, a 2.76 ERA and 53 strikeouts to 16 walks over 62 innings. The following season, he served as the team’s pitching coach before simultaneously being activated as a pitcher in July. At 38 years old, he went 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA and four saves. Simas’ 48 career saves in a Ducks uniform remains the franchise’s all-time record. Simas is currently the pitching coach of the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers.


Leo Rosales
Leo Rosales Action Shot

From one championship closer to another, Leo Rosales rounds out our 20th Anniversary Team closer candidates. Rosales, who pitched for three seasons at the MLB level with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2008-10), was acquired by Long Island from the Camden Riversharks in September of 2012 in exchange for outfielder Reid Gorecki. The trade would go down as one of the most important in team history. Rosales pitched three scoreless before leading the Ducks to an Atlantic League championship during the postseason. He recorded three saves in six games, including the winner-take-all Game Five during the Liberty Division Championship Series. One year later, Rosales went 2-2 with a 2.35 ERA and 18 saves in 39 appearances, earning an Atlantic League All-Star Game nod. The righty was dynamite in the playoffs once again, tallying four saves in five appearances, none bigger than closing out Game Five of the Atlantic League Championship Series at Somerset to clinch a second consecutive title. Rosales got off to a terrific start in 2014 with the Flock as well, totaling nine saves in 13 games and a 1.35 ERA before his contract was purchased by Leones de Yucatan of the Mexican League. He has since spent two more seasons pitching in Mexico and is now a pitching coach for the Single-A Tri-City Dust Devils in the San Diego Padres organization.


Deciding a winner will certainly not be easy! All three nominees have pitched in the Major Leagues, dominated with the Ducks and garnered Atlantic League All-Star honors. Two of the three have also won ALPB championships. It’s now your turn to help determine which of the three will be the closer on the 20th Anniversary Team. Cast your vote over the course of the next week by clicking the button below and choosing your favorite candidate. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!

20th-Anniversary-Team-Voting-Button-Closer

Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll unveil the final three nominees for the 20th Anniversary Team, highlighting the top managers in Ducks history.

20th Anniversary Team Voting – Left-Handed Reliever

Borbon-Zimmerman-Niesen

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.

After a week of voting for some of the top right-handed relievers in Ducks history, we now switch over to the southpaws. Lefty relievers are vital pieces to any strong bullpen, whether for match-up purposes with big lefty bats or to be late-inning set-up men. The Ducks have had their fair share of strong left-handed arms throughout their history, and it was not easy determining the three nominees who will vie for a spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. Let’s take a look at the three candidates:


Pedro Borbon Jr.
Pedro Borbon Jr. Action Shot

The son of former Major Leaguer Pedro Borbon is our first nominee for the left-handed reliever position. Pedro Borbon Jr. had spent parts of eight seasons in the big leagues before making his way to the Ducks in 2003. The Houston Astros had released the southpaw, and he was looking for a way to get back to the game’s highest level. The Ducks gave him the opportunity, and he responded by posting a 5-2 record with a 2.08 ERA in 32 games (six starts). Borbon Jr. also struck out 50 batters and walked just 14 over 69.1 innings of work. Opportunity came calling, as the St. Louis Cardinals purchased his contract on July 24th. Just five days later, he was back in the big leagues, where he made seven more appearances. The jump made the Dominican Republic native the second Duck in team history to return to the Majors after playing on Long Island, following Carlos Baerga (2001). Borbon Jr. returned to the Ducks briefly in both 2004 and 2005, where he combined to make eight starts. He would also make a couple of appearances with the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2006 before wrapping up his playing career.


Jordan Zimmerman
Jordan Zimmerman Action Shot

The second nominee for this position was part of the Ducks Atlantic League championship team of 2004. Jordan Zimmerman joined Long Island after spending the majority of his career in the Seattle Mariners organization, reaching the Major Leagues for 12 games in 1999. As a member of the Flock, he helped serve as a set-up man to closer Bill Simas. Zimmerman made 50 appearances during the 2004 campaign, second-most in the Atlantic League behind only Camden’s Todd Rizzo (59). He registered a 3-2 record with a miniscule 2.28 ERA and a pair of saves. The Canada native also struck out 36 batters while walking just 16 over 47.1 innings of work. During the postseason, Zimmerman recorded several big outs to keep the Nashua Pride off the scoreboard in the North Division Championship Series. He did the same against Camden in the Atlantic League Championship Series to help give the Flock their first-ever league title. Not a bad way to complete your professional career!


Eric Niesen
Eric Niesen Action Shot

Last among the trio of nominees, but certainly not least, is left-hander Eric Niesen. The former third round draft pick by the Mets first joined the Ducks in 2013. He got off to a terrific start that season, posting a 4-0 record with a 3.23 ERA, one save and 39 strikeouts in 39 innings. Thanks to his strong performance, Niesen’s contract was purchased on July 9th by the Boston Red Sox. After spending time with Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket that year, he returned to the Ducks in 2014. The southpaw appeared in a team-high 59 games, tied for fifth-most in the league, and turned in a 4-3 record with a stellar 3.06 ERA and 65 strikeouts over 53 innings. Niesen returned for one more year with the Ducks in 2015 where he experimented as a starter as well, making eight appearances overall (four starts) to finish his career in the orange and black. His playing career finished the following season in the Atlantic League with Bridgeport.


We have revealed our three nominees for the left-handed reliever spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. Now, we need your help in determining which of the three will be represented among this exclusive group. Click on the button below to cast your vote from now through next Thursday for either Borbon Jr., Zimmerman or Niesen. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!

20th-Anniversary-Team-Voting-Button-Left-Handed-Reliever

Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll unveil the three nominees for the closer spot on the 20th Anniversary Team.

20th Anniversary Team Voting – Right-Handed Reliever

Grezlovski-Hill-Diaz

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.

The starting rotation is now set for our 20th Anniversary Team after thousands of fans voted over the past five weeks for starters over different eras of Ducks baseball. With five outstanding starters locked in, it’s time to shift gears towards the bullpen. The Ducks have enlisted many strong arms into their relief corps since beginning play in 2000, with many being vital parts to long postseason runs. Over the next three weeks, we’ll add three different relievers to this exclusive team: a right-hander, a left-hander and a closer. We’ll begin with the righties this week, and this trio of candidates includes an Atlantic League veteran, a former Major Leaguer and a set-up man that pitched in two Atlantic League Championship Series. Let’s take a look at the nominees:


Ben Grezlovski
Ben Grezlovski Action Shot

Our first reliever in this week’s voting had already established himself as a top bullpen arm in the Atlantic League before joining the Ducks. Ben Grezlovski had turned in back-to-back impressive seasons out of the bullpen for the Atlantic City Surf in 2005 and 2006 before he was signed by the Ducks in 2007. His success continued with the Flock, as he posted a 7-2 record with a 3.39 ERA in 61 innings of relief. His 58 appearances were the second-most in the Atlantic League, trailing only teammate Danny Graves’ 62. The former Angels draft pick was selected to play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game for his efforts. Grezlovski returned to Long Island in 2008 and made 67 more appearances, a total which led the league and still stands to this day as a franchise single-season record. He finished the year 6-2 with a 3.70 ERA and struck out 69 batters over 87.2 innings of work. In both seasons with the Ducks, the Michigan native helped lead the team into the postseason. Grezlovski went on to spend two more seasons in the ALPB with the Somerset Patriots before retiring after 2011.


Jeremy Hill
Jeremy Hill Action Shot

The only ex-Major Leaguer among this week’s nominees is Jeremy Hill. The righty spent two seasons with the Ducks, leading Long Island to a Championship Series appearance in 2011 and then to the Atlantic League title in 2012. In that time, he compiled a record of 13-9 with a 3.20 ERA and 97 strikeouts over 135 innings of work. The former Kansas City Royals reliever was lights-out during the 2011 campaign, going 8-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 48 games, a total which ranked third among Ducks relievers. One year later, he earned an All-Star Game selection and made 63 relief appearances, which was tops among Ducks pitchers and second in the Atlantic League behind only York’s Adam Thomas (67). The Dallas native combined that with a 3.49 ERA and 49 strikeouts over 67 innings of work. Hill added seven postseason appearances to his resume with the Ducks before retiring following the end of the 2012 season.


Amalio Diaz
Amalio Diaz Action Shot

Our final nominee for the position was a vital piece of Long Island’s bullpen for three seasons (2015-17). Amalio Diaz, who quickly became a fan favorite with the Ducks, appeared in 169 games as a member of the Flock, all out of the bullpen. He posted an ERA under 3.00 in each season, compiling a 2.39 ERA overall. Though not primarily the closer, he filled in well when needed to jump in the role and recorded 34 saves over those three seasons. The Arizona resident also induced a lot of swings and misses, totaling 204 strikeouts and walking only 49 batters over 166 innings of work. Diaz represented the Ducks at the 2017 Atlantic League All-Star Game in Somerset, though he very well could have been an All-Star all three seasons. Long Island reached the playoffs in each of Amalio’s three seasons with the team, and he combined to appear in nine postseason games. His totals? Nine and one-third innings, five hits, no runs, two walks, 11 strikeouts.


The nominees have been chosen, but now it’s up to you to help pick the winner. Voting is now open for the right-handed reliever spot, so be sure to cast your ballot by clicking the button below. You can vote as many times as you’d like over the next week. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!

20th-Anniversary-Team-Voting-Button-Right-Handed-Reliever

Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll unveil the three nominees for our left-handed reliever spot on the 20th Anniversary Team.

20th Anniversary Team Voting – Starting Pitcher (2012-15)

Brownell-Blevins-Lansford

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.

The common phrase goes “pitching wins championships,” and that was certainly the case during the next era of our voting. During this four-year stretch, the Ducks claimed back-to-back Atlantic League Championships thanks in large part to some tremendous performances on the mound. One of the nominees for this week’s starting pitcher spot earned Championship Series MVP honors in 2013. Another recorded a pair of quality starts with the Ducks facing elimination in 2012. Our third candidate began as a reliever before converting to a starter and was instrumental in both championship victories. Let’s take a closer look at each of the three nominees:


John Brownell
John Brownell Action Shot

After coming to Long Island via a late-season trade in 2012 from the Grand Prairie AirHogs, John Brownell fashioned a Ducks career that spanned parts of seven seasons, including six full years. During that time, he compiled a record of 65-51 with a 3.72 ERA, 755 strikeouts, and 1,005.1 innings pitched over 156 games (154 starts). His wins, strikeouts, innings pitched and starts totals are all Ducks franchise records, and he is also the Atlantic League’s all-time strikeouts king. The right-hander ranks second in league history for innings pitched and third for wins. Not to mention, he’s also the Ducks single-season record holder for starts (29, 2014), complete games (7, 2013), innings pitched (202.0, 2014) and strikeouts (147, 2016). If those impressive numbers aren’t enough, Brownell was a key contributor to Long Island’s back-to-back Atlantic League Championships. He posted a 2.84 ERA in a pair of 2012 postseason starts, which included a win in Game Four of the ALCS with the Ducks facing elimination. The following season, Brownell won all three playoff starts and compiled a 2.88 ERA. Two of those starts came in the Championship Series, where he earned MVP honors after pitching into the ninth inning of the decisive Game Five at Somerset. He would go on to lead Long Island to three more Liberty Division titles (2016-18) and earn an ALPB All-Star Game selection in 2017. Brownell has unquestionably cemented his legacy as one of the franchise’s greatest starting pitchers ever.


Bobby Blevins
Bobby Blevins Action Shot

Another vital piece to Long Island’s Championship puzzles was New York native Bobby Blevins. The right-hander also joined the Ducks in a late-season trade from the Rockland Boulders during the 2012 campaign. Manager Kevin Baez slotted Blevins in to start the decisive Game Five during both postseason series that year and boy did he deliver. He fired six innings of three-run ball in the Liberty Division Championship Series, as the Ducks defeated Southern Maryland 5-4, and then tossed six innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts against Lancaster to lead the Ducks to another 5-4 win and their first championship in eight seasons. Blevins was masterful in his lone postseason start one year later, pitching eight innings of one-run ball at Somerset in Game Four of the Atlantic League Championship Series. While impressive in the postseason, his regular season numbers were nothing to scoff at. Between 2012 and 2015, Blevins compiled a 15-10 record with a 3.23 ERA, four complete games, 212 strikeouts, and 317.2 innings over 50 games (47 starts). He spent one final season with the Ducks in 2016 and started Game One of the Atlantic League Championship Series that year before going on to spend time with both the Sugar Land Skeeters and Somerset Patriots in 2017 and 2018, respectively.


Jared Lansford
Jared Lansford Action Shot

Our third and final candidate for this spot on the 20th Anniversary Team enjoyed success as both a starting pitcher and a reliever during his three seasons as a Duck. Jared Lansford served as a late-inning bullpen arm during Long Island’s back-to-back championships runs, making 47 appearances in both 2012 and 2013. He combined to post a 5-3 record with a 3.61 ERA, nine saves, and 88 strikeouts over 104.2 innings of work. The righty’s 2013 success earned him an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection. Lansford was also a perfect 3-0 in 11 postseason appearances, yielding just one run and one walk over 12.1 innings while striking out 13. The California native converted to the starting rotation for the 2014 season and continued his success on the mound. He made 25 starts that year and posted an 8-5 record with a 3.22 ERA, two complete games, and 123 strikeouts over 159.1 innings pitched. Thanks to his performance, Lansford eventually signed in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. He has spent several seasons pitching overseas since.


Three two-time Atlantic League champions are up for selection, but only one will have a spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. Who that will be lies partly in your hands. Cast your vote early and often over the next week for Brownell, Blevins or Lansford 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!

20th-Anniversary-Team-Voting-Button-Starting-Pitcher-12-15

Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll reveal our group of three nominees for the starting pitcher spot representing the 2016-18 era of Ducks history, the final starter spot on the team.

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