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Quack of the Bat Visits Cooperstown

In the difficult times we are all currently facing with the COVID-19 pandemic, many baseball fans have been unable to enjoy their favorite sport as they normally would. 2020 has seen a very abbreviated Major League Baseball season and only a select few other teams take the field to play ball in empty ballparks or with extremely light crowds. With the Atlantic League being unable to have a season this year, Quack of the Bat decided to get a bit of a baseball fix by heading up to Cooperstown, N.Y. recently to check out the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

For those that love baseball, this trip is a MUST. This little town is about four and a half hours away from Long Island (depending where on the island you’re traveling from), and Main Street is a baseball paradise. Shops filled with Cooperstown souvenirs and baseball memorabilia line the street along with some great restaurants. A favorite is Doubleday Café! All of those lead to the Hall of Fame at the end of the street, the pinnacle landing spot for any baseball player.

The Hall of Fame contains a litany of artifacts from throughout baseball history, dating all the way back to the 1800s. Its archive of baseball, bats, jerseys, gloves, lockers and so many other treasures of baseball is what makes this place so special. New York baseball fans especially will love the many references to their beloved team. Yankees fans will find a giant wall showcasing the 27 World Series championships the Yankees have won, including a replica of the 1996 Commissioner’s Trophy in front of it, and uniforms worn by the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. Mets fans can enjoy a peek at a batting helmet worn by Ray Knight, a baseball from Johan Santana’s no-hitter, a jersey donned by Dwight Gooden, and so much more.

Not only is Cooperstown home to many Major League Baseball artifacts, but it is also the place where a special piece of Atlantic League history resides. Within the past year, the Hall of Fame added an earpiece worn by ALPB home plate umpire Fred DeJesus to the end of its “Whole New Ballgame” exhibit on the second floor. In the “Today’s Game” showcase, the earpiece rests on a shelf with a description acknowledging the league’s use of an electronic strike zone in 2019.

The earpiece was worn by DeJesus during the Long Island Ducks game against the New Britain Bees on July 25, 2019, in what was the first Atlantic League regular season game to implement the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS). Following the first inning, the earpiece was presented by DeJesus and his fellow-umpires to Ducks Founder/CEO Frank Boulton, who would then donate the artifact to the Hall of Fame on behalf of the ALPB.

However, this is not the first time the Atlantic League has had an item on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Back in 2015, the league debuted a new baseball with red and blue seams at the All-Star Game in Bridgeport. It has since used that baseball during all games. The baseball that D.J. Mitchell threw for the first pitch of the 2015 All-Star Game was donated to the Hall of Fame following the game. As noted in the description, it recalls the stitches used on American League baseballs through 1933. Additionally, last year, the cleats Blue Crabs outfielder Tony Thomas wore when he became the first player in baseball history to steal first base, were also donated to the Hall of Fame.

Several other artifacts are on display that have connections to the Atlantic League throughout the Hall of Fame. Here are a few of them:

Induction Plaques of ALPB alumni Gary Carter, Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines

Catching Mitt worn by Gary Carter

Angels Jersey worn by ALPB alumnus Francisco Rodriguez

Team Israel Cap worn by ALPB alumnus Josh Zeid

To conclude, a visit to Cooperstown should be on every baseball fans’ bucket list, and there has never been a better time to visit. For more information, go to BaseballHall.org.

Have you been to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown? What do you enjoy most about this special place? Do you have a favorite artifact on display? Comment and let us know!

The Great Hall of Fame Debate – Atlantic League Edition

Hall-of-Fame
Welcome back Ducks fans! We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and want to wish you all a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping that 2015 will bring us all many great memories, exciting baseball and our fourth Atlantic League championship.

Today, Major League Baseball unveiled the voting results for this year’s Hall of Fame nominees. Four players were voted in this year by the Baseball Writers Association of America, including Long Island native Craig Biggio and pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. All four are deserving candidates, and we here at “Quack of the Bat” would like to pass along our congratulations to this fine class.

The selections also got us thinking today. Although the Atlantic League does not yet have a Hall of Fame, there have certainly been several great Ducks players from the first 15 seasons in franchise history who would be worthy of selection. Circumstances in this case are a bit different, being that the league has only been around for 17 seasons and that most players do not stick in the league for long stretches. However, a case can be made for several players in Atlantic League history to be voted into a league Hall of Fame, many of whom are Ducks.

The criteria for what would be considered “Hall of Fame worthy” is something that could be heavily debated. From the amount of games played to championships/awards won to home run, win and strikeout totals, the numbers are not as well-defined as in Major League Baseball. So, let us know what you think the criteria should be for an Atlantic Leaguer to be selected to the Hall.

Over the course of the Atlantic League’s 17-year history, there have been many players who have become such strong representatives of the league based on their time spent in it and their play on the field. Some of the sluggers that come to mind immediately are Jeff Nettles, who played for nine seasons with the Somerset Patriots, and Josh Pressley, who donned a Patriots uniform for five years before spending two with Sugar Land. As for hurlers on the mound, guys like Corey Thurman, who has started for seven seasons with the York Revolution, and Ross Peeples, who has played an astounding 10 years with the Lancaster Barnstormers would also garner strong consideration. Which other Atlantic Leaguers, outside of the Ducks, do you feel deserve to be in a league Hall of Fame?

This past summer, the Ducks unveiled their 15th Anniversary Team, as voted on by the fans. The top player at each position was chosen by fans to be a part of this special group. For a quick refresher, here is who was chosen:

Catcher – Francisco Morales
First Base – Doug Jennings
Second Base – Ray Navarrete
Shortstop – Dan Lyons
Third Base – Bryant Nelson
Outfielder – Justin Davies
Outfielder – Lew Ford
Outfielder – Kimera Bartee
Designated Hitter – Patrick Lennon
Left-Handed Starter – Randy Leek
Right-Handed Starter – John Brownell
Reliever – Joe Valentine
Closer – Bill Simas
Manager – Kevin Baez
Final Vote – Mike Loree

Of those 15, who do you feel deserves to be in an Atlantic League Hall of Fame donning a Ducks cap? While you think about you selections, our blog team will give you ours:

Ray Navarrete
Ray Navarrete

His name has become one of the most synonymous with the Atlantic League of any player to have played in the league. He spent eight seasons with the Ducks from 2006-13 (and a brief stint with Somerset in 2005) and put together some of the best seasons in league history. He played in 863 games, amassed 963 hits, launched 137 home runs, drove in 548 runs, scored 599 runs and collected 245 doubles while with the Flock, all team records. He is one of only two players in league history with over 1,000 hits, joining Nettles. He won the Atlantic League Player of the Year Award in 2009, earned five All-Star Game selections and capped off his career with two Atlantic League championships. What more could you want in a Hall of Famer?

Doug Jennings
Doug-Jennings

Jennings certainly checks off the longevity aspect of Hall of Fame selection. He spent six seasons with the Ducks from 2000-05 and also spent his first season in the Atlantic League with Newark in 1999. In those seven seasons, he played in a total of 405 games and had double digit home run totals in five of them. His bread and butter though was getting on base, and Jennings posted an on-base percentage over .350 in six of his seven seasons, including two over .500! The numbers offensively are there for Jennings, and he has an Atlantic League championship from 2004 to go with it.

Lew Ford
Lew-Ford-Batting

Ford’s career in the Atlantic League has not officially come to an end just yet, but his five seasons so far with the Ducks have been extraordinary. He lacks a bit in the games played department, having only played in 341 contests. However, a big reason for that was because he was signed by the Orioles early in 2012 and remained with them until late in 2013. In addition, the fact that he’s among a select group to have made it back to the Major Leagues after playing in the Atlantic League lines up with the ideals for which the league was created. In addition, despite the shortage in games played, he is the only player in league history to appear in each and every one during a 140-game season, and he did so during his most recent season of play. In his 341 games, Ford has been a wrecking force at the plate, compiling a .337 batting average which is a franchise record. In addition, he’s totaled 216 RBI, 261 runs, 439 hits and 95 doubles. As for awards, he was an Atlantic League All-Star and Player of the Year this past season, and he’s got himself a pair of championship rings. Oh, and did we mention his Atlantic League career has not yet officially ended?

Bryant Nelson
Bryant-Nelson-Home-Orange

Nelson has been a member of the Atlantic League for each of the past nine seasons, so his longevity in the league is near the top. The greater debate might be which team’s cap he would don in the Hall. He’s spent parts of four seasons with the Ducks, two with York, two with Camden, one with Lancaster and one with Bridgeport. His best statistical single season came with Lancaster in 2010, when he batted .288 with 22 homers, 91 RBI, 158 hits and 84 runs, earning an All-Star selection. However, he’s won two championships with the Ducks as well and was an All-Star choice in 2013. His total numbers with the Flock weren’t too shabby either, combining to bat .274 with 32 homers, 197 RBI, 197 runs and 73 doubles in 343 games. For his Atlantic League career, he is one game shy of 800 and 123 hits shy of 1,000. Nelson’s been a consistent contributor in the league and, in this blogger’s opinion, should be considered for a Hall of Fame.

Francisco Morales
Francisco Morales

Like Ford, Morales didn’t play in the Atlantic League for long, but he certainly made an impact when he did. The backstop spent three seasons with the Ducks from 2000-02 and a year in Camden. During that four-year stint, he appeared in 478 games, an average of nearly 120 per season. In addition, he hit over 20 homers in each season with the Flock and added 10 with Camden for a grand total of 73 longballs. Among his other stats were 513 hits, 312 RBI, 259 runs and 88 doubles. He was an Atlantic League All-Star twice with the Ducks (2000, 02), but he ultimately never won an Atlantic League title. His offensive prowess was clearly demonstrated while in the Atlantic League, but his shortened length in the league and lack of ring makes his selection less of a guarantee.

What do you think of our selections Ducks fans? Should we include any others? Should we remove any that we have chosen? Where would you put an Atlantic League Hall of Fame? Let us know your thoughts by commenting on this post.

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