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 first set of outfielder voting proved to be our closest competition yet! After hundreds of ballots were submitted, the leading vote-getter of the trio finished with just 23 more votes than the nominee that finished second last week. It proves just how tough it can be for fans to determine a clear-cut winner and how many great players there have been in Ducks history. This week, we have three more tremendous candidates for another outfield spot. One was a true fan-favorite on Long Island, another turned his Ducks career into a Major League opportunity, and the final nominee came to the Ducks after a lengthy big league career and posted astounding offensive numbers. With that being said, it’s time to reveal our three candidates:
Our first nominee this week is coincidentally also the first Ducks player ever to have his jersey number retired. That, of course, is Justin Davies, who had his #4 jersey retired on June 19, 2005 at Bethpage Ballpark. After growing up in West Babylon native and Queens College alum came to the Flock for the inaugural 2000 season after spending a couple of seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Fans quickly developed an admiration for Davies’ passion for the game, hustle and clutch performances. The speedster spent six seasons in a Ducks uniform, compiling a .273 batting average, a .375 on-base percentage and 426 runs over 637 games. His 149 stolen bases in a Ducks uniform still stands as the franchise’s all-time record, and his 85 walks in 2002 still stand as the club’s single-season record. Davies was selected to play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game in both 2003 and 2005, but it was in between where he cemented his legacy. In 2004, he collected back-to-back walk-off hits in Games One and Two of the Atlantic League Championship Series against the Camden Riversharks. He was later named the Championship Series MVP after the Ducks completed the series sweep in New Jersey, earning the franchise’s first-ever title.
Our second outfield candidate of the week was also among the fastest players to ever wear a Ducks uniform. Mel Stocker only spent one year on Long Island, but his 2006 season was one of the most meaningful of his professional career. After playing five seasons in the Kansas City Royals organization, never advancing past Double-A, the Tucson, Ariz. native played in 110 games for a Ducks team that won the First Half Championship to secure a postseason berth. He turned in a .303 batting average and finished the year second in the Atlantic League with 87 runs (Raul Marval, 88) and fourth in the league with 134 hits. He also stole 56 bases that season, which still stands as the Ducks single-season record and ranked second in the league behind only Demetrius Heath (71). Stocker was also superb defensively, committing just three errors and making several eye-popping catches in center field. He was selected to play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game that summer in Bridgeport as well. The impressive season paid off, as he was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers in January of 2007 and made his Major League debut that September. It made Stocker the sixth player in franchise history to reach The Show after playing on Long Island.
Last, but certainly not least this week, is one of the most prolific power hitters in team history. Prior to his time with the Ducks, Carl Everett enjoyed a 14-year Major League career that was highlighted by a pair of American League All-Star selections (2000, 2003). He also was a member of the Chicago White Sox time that won it all in 2005, and he hit .444 during their World Series triumph over the Houston Astros. At 36 years old and after a disappointing year with the Mariners in 2006, the Ducks gave Everett the opportunity to continue playing the game and show that he could still be a productive player. The Tampa native led the Ducks to the postseason in both 2007 and 2008 and compiled some of the best offensive numbers of any Ducks player. In 2007, Everett ranked third in the Atlantic League in home runs (25), RBIs (97) and slugging percentage (.565) over 104 games played. The following year, those totals went up even higher. He set a franchise single-season record that still stands with 29 home runs, drove in 100 runs, and posted the fourth-best slugging percentage in the Atlantic League that year (.592). The former first round draft pick wasn’t just a power hitter either; He hit over .310 in each season, totaling a .320 batting average with the Flock.
We’ve revealed our three outstanding nominees for this week’s voting. Now, it’s up to you folks to help choose who will secure the coveted spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. Based on the resumes of these three, we could have another very tight race among the balloting. Cast your vote as often as you would like over the next week by clicking the voting button below. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!
Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll reveal our next three nominees for an outfield position.
Well fans, we have officially completed voting for both the infield and outfield of the 15th Anniversary Team! Last week, we gave fans the option of voting for three outfielders out of nine nominees, and the turnout was fantastic with voting coming right down to the wire. Want to know who those lucky three players are? Well, the 15th Anniversary Team final roster will not be unveiled until Friday, May 2, so hang tight! What we can say, however, is that it is quite an impressive team that you, the fans, have assembled.
It is now time to move on to the designated hitter spot on the lineup card. While many of these nominees also played in the field throughout their Ducks career, the majority of their action came as the DH. Our list of designated hitter nominees features a combined 35 years of Major League experience, including three MLB All-Star Game selections and 260 big league home runs. In fact, five of the six nominees made it to the Majors at some point in their career, the most of any other position thus far in the voting. Here are the six DH nominees:
Arguably the most well-known name on this list, Everett had two monster years with Long Island. Playing in 219 games over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Everett led all nominees in batting (.320) and home runs (54) while ranking second in RBI (197). The 14-year Major League veteran finished third in the league in home runs (25) and RBI (97) during his first season with the Ducks. Everett then improved on those numbers in 2008, batting .327 with 100 RBI and 29 home runs, a Ducks single-season record. The Florida native and former 10th overall pick in the 1990 draft retired from professional baseball in 2010 with 1,304 hits, 202 home runs and 792 RBI combined in the Major and Minor Leagues along with two MLB All-Star selections.
Gibson represents the first of two DH nominees that only played in one season with the Ducks, but like the other (Victor Rodriguez), his numbers justify his placement on this list. Gibson joined Long Island in 2003 and had a memorable season. He led the league in RBI (89) and doubles (33) while finishing fourth in plate appearances (530) and 10th in home runs (19). The Florida native appeared in 120 games overall with the Flock in 2003 and earned a well-deserved All-Star Game selection. Gibson also boasts Major League experience, as he spent time with the Colorado Rockies during the 1998 and ’99 seasons.
The longest tenured Duck among these nominees, Lennon played in 282 games with the Flock over his four-year career on Long Island (2002-05). The North Carolina native led all nominees in RBI (226) and hits (335) and is the only player on this list to have won a championship with Long Island (2004). The former Major Leaguer’s best season as a Duck came in that title-winning year, as he batted .323 with 14 home runs over 116 games. That year, the 36-year-old also led the league in doubles (36) while finishing fifth in RBI (88) and runs scored (85). The former eighth overall pick in the 1986 draft was selected to two Atlantic League All-Star Games (2002, ’04) during his time with the Ducks. Lennon, who spent six years in the Majors with four different teams, finished his time on Long Island with a .314 batting average, second highest among nominees.
Rodriguez stands as the second most storied former Major Leaguer on this list. The 11-year Major League veteran split time between five teams in the Majors but is included on this list thanks to his strong two seasons (2005-06) with the Flock. The Dominican Republic native finished off his career in impressive fashion with Long Island, batting .304 with 39 home runs and 131 RBI over 182 games. His best year came in 2005 when he led the Atlantic League in batting (.322) while finishing sixth in home runs (27) and tallying 72 RBI. While the 1996 National League All-Star never played in an Atlantic League All-Star Game, Rodriguez certainly left his mark on the Faithful Flock.
Our second Rodriguez among nominees (none are related) is the most recent nominee to play with the Ducks. The former St. Louis Cardinal enjoyed two strong seasons with Long Island in 2010 and 2011. An All-Star Game selection both years, he was a major part of one of the most dangerous lineups in Ducks history. In 2011, Rodriguez’s 81 RBI joined him alongside three other Ducks among the top six in the Atlantic League (Javier Colina, J.R. House and Ray Navarrete). Possibly more impressive, the New York City native’s 81 RBI came in just 82 games played, easily the fewest among the top 10 that year. Additionally, Rodriguez is etched in the Ducks record books thanks to a historic six-run, eight-RBI performance against Lancaster on June 9 of that season; both of which remain Ducks single-game records. Overall, Rodriguez hit .308 with 28 home runs and 124 RBI in his two seasons on Long Island, spanning 171 games.
While Rodriguez’s marquee seasons in the Atlantic League might have come as a member of the Somerset Patriots in 2004 and Newark Bears in 2007, the native of Puerto Rico enjoyed a strong 2009 season with the Flock. He came to Long Island with high expectations and did not disappoint, hitting .301 with four home runs, 56 RBI and 20 doubles over 97 games. Those numbers were good enough to finish in the Top 5 on the team in batting average and doubles. His efforts helped lead the Ducks to the postseason where they were narrowly defeated by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the opening round. Overall, Rodriguez spent five years in the Atlantic League, finishing his career in 2010 with York, Newark and Bridgeport.
So fans, there are your 15th Anniversary Team designated hitter nominees. While the decision to choose one of these six candidates will undoubtedly be tough, don’t forget that you can write in a different candidate by selecting “other” in the poll below and typing in your choice. This week’s winner will represent the final batter on the “Flock 15” starting lineup. Next week, we move to the mound and begin looking at some of the most memorable pitchers in franchise history.