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.
We had a great deal of voter input during our first week of balloting, with hundreds of fans casting their ballot for our three catcher nominees: Francisco Morales, Jamie Pogue and J.R. House. This week, we make our way 90 feet towards the right side of the infield to unveil our three options for the first base spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. The Ducks have had their fair share of power bats and stout defenders man the ‘3’ position on the baseball diamond. While there are many deserving candidates for this spot, we at “Quack of the Bat” have chosen three that stood out from the rest:
Five-year Major League veteran Doug Jennings is our first nominee for the coveted first base position. The Atlanta native joined the Ducks during their inaugural season of 2000 and made an immediate impact. In 84 games, he tied for the team lead with a .330 batting average while adding 14 home runs, 64 RBIs, 65 runs and 22 doubles. Thanks to his incredible debut, Jennings would go on to play more seasons at first base than any other player in franchise history. In his six years with the Flock from 2000-05, he posted a batting average of .320, ranking second in franchise history behind only Lew Ford (.322). Additionally, he totaled 62 home runs, 296 RBIs, 305 runs, 445 hits, and 107 doubles in 405 games. Jennings was also a constant on the basepaths, posting an on-base percentage over .410 in each of his first five seasons with the Flock, including a .505 OBP in 2004 that still stands as the Atlantic League’s single-season record. Jennings also had a fielding percentage of .990 or greater at first base each season on Long Island. The former second round draft pick was instrumental in helping the Ducks to their first-ever Atlantic League Championship in 2004 and earned a pair of All-Star Game selections (2000, 2004). He also had his contract purchased twice by MLB organizations while playing for the Ducks (Royals in 2000 and Brewers in 2003).
Our second nominee spent three strong years with Long Island. P.J. Rose, the son of all-time MLB great Pete Rose, joined the Flock in 2005 after playing with six different MLB organizations. Following a year in Bridgeport during the 2006 campaign, he returned to the Ducks for two more seasons in 2007 and 2008. During his three years in the orange and black, Rose Jr. was a model of consistency. He played over 115 games in each season, totaling 364 overall, and posted home run totals of 14, 14 and 15 during that time. After collecting 55 RBIs in 2005, he posted back-to-back 95 RBI seasons in 2007 and 2008. The Cincinnati native finished his Ducks career with 415 hits, 190 runs and 80 doubles. While with Long Island, Rose Jr. helped the Ducks reach the playoffs in all three seasons.
2012 Atlantic League champion Brandon Sing rounds out our nominees for the first base spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. Though he only spent one season with the Flock, the final one of his professional baseball career, he hung up the cleats following a tremendous offensive season and with a ring to boot. The slugger got off to a bit of a slow start, hitting just .220 by June 6th. However, as the weather warmed up, so did his bat. Sing hit .307 in the month of July and followed that up with a .344 batting average in August, second on the team only to Timo Perez (.411). He also led Long Island with 10 homers, 21 RBIs and 32 hits in 24 games during August. By season’s end, Sing had compiled a .284 batting average and 26 home runs, a single-season homer total that no Duck has reached since 2012. Sing’s bat continued to sizzle in the postseason, as he launched three homers during their Liberty Division Championship Series win over Southern Maryland. In total, the Joilet, Ill. native led the Flock with three homers and eight RBIs in the postseason, batting .333 as well to lead the Ducks to their first championship since 2004. For his efforts, Sing was named a Second Team Post-Season All-Star by the Atlantic League.
Alright fans, it’s up to you! Cast your ballot now by clicking the button below to help decide who the 20th Anniversary Team first baseman will be. Fans are able to vote as often as they would like from now through next Thursday, December 20th. 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 three nominees for the second base position.
The 15th Anniversary Team is going to be a special one in Ducks history, and we can already tell that by how many people have cast their ballots in our first week of voting. Hundreds of fans have visited the blog and chosen their pick for who should be the catcher on the “Flock 15” team. The voting was extremely close between two candidates, and we’ll announce which Duck was voted onto the team on Friday, May 2, which is Ducks Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark.
Next up in the voting for the 15th Anniversary Team is first base. Since 2000, the Ducks have seen a great deal of players put on the uniform and occupy first base. Some have flashed the leather on a consistent basis while some are better known for the pop they provided in the lineup. Some of the all-time great Ducks players have presided over first base during their time on Long Island. Here are the nominees for the “Flock 15” first base position:
Jennings, who earned a spot in the Ducks’ All-Time Team in 2009, was one of the core pieces on the Ducks roster from 2000 to 2005. In his six seasons, he earned All-Star Game selections during the team’s inaugural season of 2000 and their first championship season of 2004. The former Major Leaguer hit .320 during his time on Long Island with 62 home runs and 296 RBI. No season will stand out though more than 2004 for Jennings, as his .359 batting average, .505 on base percentage and .612 slugging percentage are all Ducks single season records. Not to mention, he did all of that at age 39. He was outstanding defensively as well, committing just 17 errors over the 405 games he played with the Ducks. The Atlanta native retired 19 games into the 2005 campaign with the Flock.
Jacobsen came to the Ducks in 2006 after spending the first nine seasons of his career in the Brewers, Cardinals and Mariners organizations. The former big leaguer with the Mariners in 2004 provided an intimidating presence at home plate, standing in at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds. Not only was his appearance fearsome, but so was his bat. Jacobsen produced an All-Star season, batting .291 with 21 home runs, good for third in the Atlantic League, and 89 RBI which led the league. He also finished third with a .410 on-base percentage and fifth with a .506 slugging percentage. In his 113 games, the slugger also added 72 runs, 22 doubles and drew 78 walks. Defensively, he posted a respectable .975 fielding percentage and helped the Flock to their third consecutive postseason berth. Jacobsen played nine games with Tabasco in the Mexican League during the 2007 season before deciding to hang up the cleats. He is currently appearing on Seattle Q13 Fox station doing Mariners post-game coverage.
Rose spent three seasons with the Ducks, donning the green and orange in 2005, 2007 and 2008. Though he never received an All-Star nod, he was a consistent offensive force all three years. In 364 games with Long Island, Rose compiled a .298 batting average, 43 home runs, 245 RBI and 80 doubles. He had double digit home runs, played in at least 115 games and collected at least 20 doubles in each season. He was an all-around offensive force for the Flock. Defensively, he had a .987 fielding percentage during those three seasons while playing first base, and in each season, he served as an important piece in helping lead the Ducks to the postseason. While he never won a championship on Long Island, he certainly was one of the most popular first basemen among Ducks fans. Following the 2008 season, he split 2009 with the Newark Bears and York Revolution before ending his professional career. After serving as a manager in the Appalachian League and Pioneer League, he was named manager of the Single-A Kannapolis Intimidators of the South Atlantic League in January of 2014.
No one flashed the leather in a Ducks uniform like quite Freddie Thon did during his time on Long Island. He first came to the Ducks in 2009, playing in just 20 games, but he hit .355 with two homers, 17 RBI and five doubles while making just three errors. He then spent the entire 2011 season with the Flock, playing in 94 games overall. The Puerto Rico native made just four errors at first base (.995 fielding percentage) and collected 46 assists as well. From diving stops to picks out of the dirt, Thon was outstanding on the right side of the infield. He wasn’t too shabby at the plate either, hitting .284 with seven home runs, 47 RBI and just 40 strikeouts for the year. Even when the Ducks offense struggled in the playoffs, Thon provided the Ducks with some big hits. He batted .286 (8-for-28), with his one RBI coming in the ninth inning of Game Four in the Liberty Division Championship Series. His RBI double into the right field corner scored Erick Monzon with the series-winning run, lifting the Ducks to a tremendous 9-8 come-from-behind win. Thon retired from professional baseball in the US after the season and returned to his native land of Puerto Rico.
Sing, who had an outstanding year with the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2009, was able to put together another impressive season in 2012 with the Ducks and helped Long Island end an eight-year title drought. The durable Illinois native played 119 games, and while his .284 average was slightly lower than normal, he crushed 26 home runs, drove in 78 runs, scored 78 times and added 31 doubles. He would’ve led the team in two-baggers if not for Ray Navarrete’s record-setting 50 that season. Then, he put together one of the best postseasons in Ducks history, batting .333 (13-for-39) with three home runs (all in the Liberty Division Championship Series) and eight RBI (including a game-tying single in the ninth inning of Game Two in the Atlantic League Championship Series). Sing was outstanding at the plate and provided some of the most clutch hits in franchise history. He now lives at home in Mississippi with his wife and son and provides youth baseball lessons.
Which of the five nominees do you feel deserves the first base spot on the “Flock 15” team? Cast your ballot in the poll below — everyone can vote once per day. Do you think there’s someone we are leaving out for the first base position? If so, write in a candidate by selecting “Other” and be sure to include the name of the player you feel is most deserving. Next week, we will break down the nominees for second base.