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.
Kimera Bartee’s journey to the Major Leagues took nearly 24 years from July 21, 1972, the day he was born in Omaha, Nebraska. The dream of reaching the game’s highest level became closer to reality when he was draft by the Baltimore Orioles in 1993. His journey included many twists and turns, such as when he was traded from the Orioles to the Twins in September of 1995, only to be taken back by the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft less than three months later. He went on to make the Opening Day roster for the 1996 season, but as a member of the Detroit Tigers after they claimed him off waivers from the O’s. Bartee’s journey to the top was complete, and he would go on to play in parts of six seasons in the Majors, spanning a total of 243 games with three different clubs.
After the outfielder spent 12 games in 2001 with the Colorado Rockies, he was assigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. The Rockies eventually released him following that year, and after an up-and-down 2002 campaign in the Cubs organization, he found himself out of affiliated baseball. In hopes of keeping that Major League dream alive, Bartee signed with the Ducks in 2003 and went on to become one of the most notable names in franchise history. In his first year, he batted .328 with eight home runs and 87 RBI over 116 games. Although Long Island missed the postseason, he had firmly earned his place on the roster. The following season, he clubbed 27 homers, none bigger than his two-run blast on August 9, 2004 that helped the Ducks defeat the Bluefish to clinch their first-ever postseason berth. He was selected to play in the All-Star Game that season as well and went on to help Long Island clinch its first Atlantic League championship that September.
Bartee would retire from playing professionally following the season, going out as a champion. However, that did not stop him from keeping his dream of returning to the big leagues alive. He went on to spend three seasons as a minor league coach for the organization that drafted him, serving as a coach for the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. His career then took him to the Pirates, where he would spend the next nine seasons, primarily as an outfield and baserunning coordinator for the organization. His experience in that role, as well as in one season as manager of the State College Spikes, has helped the Pirates regain its place among the top organizations in baseball. In addition, it has now given Bartee another opportunity in “The Show.”
The Pirates announced recently that Bartee would be added to the Major League coaching staff for the 2017 season in the role of first base coach. In addition, he will continue to work on the two areas that have helped him to this point, serving as the team’s outfield and baserunning coach. 21 years after opening the 1996 season in the big leagues, Bartee will be doing the same to start the 2017 campaign.
We had the chance to catch up with the Ducks’ All-Time Team member recently:
What does it mean to you to make it back to the Major League level, this time as a coach?
“It’s just as exciting as when I was a player. Any time you set a goal and reach that goal, it’s exciting, it’s humbling and it’s everything you want it to be. It’s right up there from when I made my debut as a player, so I’m excited!”
How excited are you to coach many players you have already crossed paths with?
“I’ll be working with a lot of guys who I, for lack of a better term, had a hand in raising. We were a struggling organization when I came in nine years ago, so it’s fun to see where we have gone. Our goal is still to bring home a championship, but the fact that we are up there and in contention, year in and year out, makes it fun.”
What was the best part of that magical 2004 season with the Ducks?
“The individual accolades were okay, but the camaraderie with that team was so unforgettable. I still have relationships with a lot of those guys to this day. Just the fact that we did it as a team; It was well-documented that year how close-knit of a team we were. It wasn’t your typical independent team where guys came in trying to get a job somewhere else. We all came in that year with a mission, and we all wanted to get rings. We talked about it the year before when we came up short of the playoffs, and a lot of us came back. Credit to the Ducks organization too for making some key acquisitions to have it all gel together. Some of the players that did leave to go to organizations made the commitment to come back to the Ducks if they didn’t get a big league call-up. Every one of those guys made their actions match their words. Everything that we all did individually was all for the betterment of the team.”
Which of your teammates to you still have a close bond with today?
“Patrick Lennon, Doug Jennings, Justin Davies, Bill Pulsipher, Jason Johnson, Kevin Baez obviously. I still keep in contact with Buddy Harrelson too; the list goes on and on. There are a lot of us that are still around the game today. Those are just a few, and if there was an opportunity to meet up with them all, I would do it in a heartbeat.”
How influential has a close friend and teammate like Justin been on you?
“Justin embodies the phrase ‘every day.’ When I think of him, I think of that. He showed up every day ready to play and was ready to give his best every day. I take a lot from him, I learned a lot from him and I continue to do things with his mindset in my mind. I take pride in showing up every day for my job, and I got that from Justin Davies. The fact that he’s out in North Carolina protecting people as a police officer doesn’t surprise me one bit. If I had to sum up Justin in one phrase, it would be ‘every day.’”
You came back to Bethpage Ballpark in 2009 for the 10th Anniversary Celebration and again in 2013 for Kimera Bartee Night. How welcome did you feel so many years after playing for the Ducks?
“That experience was humbling, just the fact that they recognized me, remembered me and embraced me. It’s always going to be a home away from home. From the moment I got there, the way the fans and the city embraced me, and even my teammates and adversaries. How they all understood that what we were doing was special here was humbling. I loved the experience that I had in Long Island. The fact that I was invited back and recognized with the ovations was humbling. They treated me like I was a son. I enjoyed every bit of it, and hopefully I can get back there again soon.”
How special was it that your first coaching opportunity came with the team that drafted you?
“It’s kind of a funny story. I wasn’t necessarily looking to coach at the time. I was just calling around to see if there was any interest in me actually playing. The Orioles called back and offered a job as a hitting coach. They just had some changes with their staff, and they had a hitting coach job available in Delmarva. There are things in life that put you in the right place at the right time, and things just happened to work out that way. Now, almost 12 years from that point, I’m where I am today.”
What have you noticed that has enabled the Pirates to be more successful in recent years?
“Probably the ‘buy-in’ and the culture. We (Executive Vice President and General Manager Neal Huntington, Assistant GM Kyle Stark, Chairman of the Board Bob Nutting and President Frank Coonelly) put a culture together nine years ago with the group that came in of ‘changing the world positively through baseball.’ The players and staff started to buy into it and understood what we were trying to do. We were trying to win championships, but there was this bigger goal. We saw this as one of the greatest opportunities in sports to impact the game and reconnect a city with a team and organization because they were disconnected when we came in. That’s been our motivation.”
Seeing the Cubs win World Series this year with a young roster built mainly from within, and being that they’re a division rival, does that give you more motivation going into 2017?
“It definitely puts a target on their back. I’m sure Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein and everyone over there understands that going in. Does it motivate us? Yes, but it doesn’t motivate us any more than we already were. Our goal was to build a sustainable championship team that can last for several years. We are at that point now. They have taken it to a point where we want to be, so they now have what we want. We have 19 games against them. We are their rival in the division and the ones that give them the biggest fits. We like to battle them, they like to battle us and it may even get chippy at times. At the end of the day, they are our adversaries. We look forward to the challenge, and I’m sure they look forward to it as well. They know they will have a target on their back and that we are coming to get what they’ve got.”
What do you think is going to be the biggest factor in getting you to where they now are?
“Me being the baserunning and outfield guy, I’m going to put it right on the baserunning. If we step up our baserunning as far as aggressiveness, I don’t think it would be a bonus, it’s a necessity. It’s something that we have to do. It’s nothing that we did wrong before, but it’s just something we can probably get better at. Hopefully I can inject some positive influence into the boys and not teach them, but just remind them of what they’re capable of doing. We have a lot of talented position players on this team, and if they’re reminded of some things they can do and how they can do it, I think we can ramp up our game.”
Thanks to yet another masterful outing from Mickey Jannis, the Long Island Ducks completed their sweep of the Sugar Land Skeeters on Thursday night at Bethpage Ballpark. In a 2-0 final, the knuckleballer was simply fantastic, tossing seven shutout innings and lifting the Flock to a 16-1 record in June. Long Island continues to keep pace with the Somerset Patriots in the Liberty Division, as the Pats still lead the Ducks by one and a half games. On Friday, the Ducks will begin a four-game set with the Bridgeport Bluefish. It will also be an historic night in Central Islip, as Long Island retires the number of a team legend for the first time ever.
When you think of the Long Island Ducks, one of the first names that come to mind is Justin Davies. The outfielder was a member of the Ducks during their first six seasons of play on Long Island (2000-05). During his time with the Flock, he posted a .273 batting average, 175 RBI, 52 doubles and 18 triples. Upon retiring after the 2005 season, he held the Ducks all-time record in games played (637), hits (615), runs scored (426) and stolen bases (149), a record which he still holds today. Davies also holds the team’s single season record for walks with 85 in 2002. During his six seasons, he was selected to play in two Atlantic League All-Star Games (2003, ’05).
Davies also helped lead the Ducks to their first-ever Atlantic League championship in 2004. His efforts in the Championship Series lifted the Flock to a three-game sweep of the Camden Riversharks. During the series, he delivered game-winning walk-off hits in both Game One and Two at Citibank Park and finished the series with a .385 batting average. Thanks to his strong play, Davies was named the Atlantic League Championship Series Most Valuable Player.
Davies will be recognized during a special pre-game ceremony that is slated to begin at approximately 6:00 p.m. Fans will be treated to highlights recapping some of the most memorable games in the 38-year-old’s career as well as a speech from Davies himself. The West Babylon High School alum will also be presented with a memento from this historic celebration, and his retired #4 will be unveiled at Bethpage Ballpark. Ducks broadcaster Chris King will emcee the ceremonies.
On Thursday, Long Island got on the board in the fourth inning. Randy Ruiz’s first homer of the season since rejoining the Ducks put the team on top 2-0. His two-run shot off of Sugar Land starter Roy Merritt gave the designated hitter his seventh and eighth RBIs of the year, as Lew Ford scored on the hit as well. That was all the offense either side would manage in the game, but all the offense Jannis and a pair of Ducks relievers would need to finish the win. Jannis improved to 5-2 on the season with the victory, tossing seven shutout innings before being pulled. Jannis threw 94 pitches, 55 of which were strikes. He walked three and struck out five, lowering his ERA to 1.32. He is now in sole possession of first place in that category among league leaders, as Somerset’s Sean Bierman falls to second with a 1.39 ERA. Amalio Diaz continued his dominance out of the bullpen with a scoreless eighth frame before closer Ryan Kussmaul was called on to close the game out in the ninth. The righty saved his league-leading 16th game of the year and has now saved Long Island’s last three games. Ford, Mike Blanke, and Dan Lyons all finished with a hit apiece for the Flock.
CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from the series finale
CLICK HERE for the box score from Thursday night
CLICK HERE to watch postgame interviews with Mickey Jannis, Randy Ruiz, and Ryan Kussmaul
The Ducks will send ace John Brownell to the mound in the series opener against Bridgeport on Friday night. The righty enters at 5-1 with a 3.46 ERA. In 59 and two-thirds innings, Brownell has allowed 27 runs (23 earned) on 52 hits while walking 14 and striking out 50. His previous start came against the Bluefish last Saturday night on June 13 in Bridgeport. In five innings, the Bluefish managed 10 hits off of Brownell, scoring five runs (four earned). He walked none and struck out three as the Flock came back for a 9-6 win. Brownell returns for his fourth consecutive season with the Ducks. The two-time Atlantic League champion put together an historic season in 2014. He set new franchise records in games started with 29 and innings pitched with 202, breaking the previous records of 28 (Randy Leek, 2008 and B.J. LaMura, 2009) and 179 (Bob Zimmermann, 2012), respectively. The right-hander led the Atlantic League in both categories along with complete games (5) and finished second in the league in wins (13) and strikeouts (130). Overall, the Nebraska resident was 13-9 with a 3.61 ERA. Prior to the start of the season, fans voted him as the right-handed starting pitcher on the franchise’s 15th Anniversary All-Time Team. The 31-year-old began his career with the Ducks in September of 2012. He made four appearances (three starts) in the regular season before posting a 2.84 ERA in two playoff starts. The following season, he led the Atlantic League with seven complete games and two shutouts while finishing second in strikeouts (133), third in innings pitched (166.1) and ninth in ERA (3.90). The University of Oklahoma alum then won all three of his postseason starts, posted a 2.88 ERA and earned Championship Series MVP honors. In his Ducks career, Brownell is 24-21 with a 3.86 ERA and 278 strikeouts over 59 regular season games (58 starts) and 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA and 27 strikeouts in five postseason starts.
Bridgeport will try to snap their three-game losing streak against the Ducks with Mike Antonini pitching. The southpaw comes in with a 3-4 record and 3.47 ERA. In nine starts, he has logged 54 and one-third innings, allowing 23 runs (21 earned) on 53 hits. He has walked 11 and struck out 52. Antonini has alternated between wins and losses over his last four starts. On June 10, the Pennsylvania native took a loss in Texas against the Skeeters in a 2-1 Sugar Land win. In seven innings, Antonini allowed both runs on five hits while walking none and striking out five. Antonini joins the Bluefish for his ninth season of professional baseball and second in the Atlantic League. Last year, the left-hander started 19 games for New Jersey of the Independent Can-AM League and racked up nine wins with a 2.84 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 117.1 innings of work. The 29-year-old made his professional debut in 2007 after being drafted by the New York Mets in the 18th round of the MLB Amateur Draft. He spent four seasons with the Mets, reaching as high as the Triple-A level, before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2011 season, where he also reached Triple-A. In 2013, Antonini joined the independent ranks with Camden of the Atlantic League. In 185 career minor league appearances (144 starts), he owns 46 wins with a 4.13 ERA and 697 strikeouts in 862 and two-thirds innings of work.
Here are tonight’s game notes:
Ducks vs. Bluefish: Tonight marks the 296th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Bluefish. Bridgeport currently leads the series by a 149-146 margin, but the Ducks hold an 80-67 advantage at Bethpage Ballpark. Tonight is also the 11th of 27 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The Bluefish lead this year’s series six to four. This season marks the seventh edition of the Ferry Cup Series, with the Ducks winning the Cup in four of the first six years.
All They Do Is Win: Long Island earned their fourth series sweep of the season on Thursday night. Three of those four sweeps have come during the month of June. The Ducks have also won five consecutive series and are unbeaten in their last eight series. Long Island has a 16-1 record in their last 17 games, outscoring opponents 103-44 in that span (6.1 runs scored/game). Their 16 wins in June is one more than they totaled in all of May. In addition, the Flock have won nine straight games at Bethpage Ballpark. The longest home winning streak in team history was 12 games, which was done July 5-20, 2006.
Oh Mickey, You’re So Fine: Mickey Jannis continued his dominance with seven shutout innings on Thursday. In his last 10 games (six starts), the knuckleballer has allowed just five earned runs over 52 innings, good for a 0.87 ERA. In that span, he has given up 30 hits and 15 walks while striking out 40. In his last five starts, the righty is 3-0 with a 0.49 ERA, yielding two earned runs in 37 innings.
Ford’s Fury: Lew Ford has earned hits in 11 consecutive games after picking up a single on Thursday. In those 11 games, the former big leaguer is batting .452 (20-for-45) with five doubles, eight RBI, and 10 runs. Ford currently leads the Atlantic League in hits (68), RBI (44), total bases (103), doubles (18) and extra-base hits (24). He is also tied for first in batting average (.340), second in on-base percentage (.409) and slugging percentage (.515), and tied for third in runs (29).
Diaz is Dazzling: Amalio Diaz tossed another scoreless inning of relief Thursday. The right-hander has now made 10 consecutive appearances without allowing a run. In addition, he has given up just one run in his last 20 outings. During those 20 games, Diaz has combined to pitch 20 innings, allowing just 11 hits and one walk while striking out 26 batters.
Randy’s Dandy: Randy Ruiz’s two-run homer Thursday was his first of the year. The longball came in his eighth game since returning to the Ducks on June 9. The former big leaguer launched nine home runs in 45 games with the Flock in 2014.
On the Air: Tonight’s game can be heard on the Ducks’ flagship station, 103.9-FM LI News Radio. Live streaming video and audio will be available by CLICKING HERE. Michael Polak will call the play-by-play. Fans can also follow a pitch-by-pitch account of the game via Pointstreak’s GameLive application by CLICKING HERE.
Finally, here are tonight’s starting lineups:
#11 Reegie Corona – 2B
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – LF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#26 Jose Morales – C
#28 Prentice Redman – RF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#7 John Brownell – RHP
#2 Ethan Chapman – CF
#6 Luis An. Rodriguez – 2B
#19 Welington Dotel – RF
#26 John Alonso – 1B
#32 Andres Rodriguez – DH
#17 Jobduan Morales – C
#27 Frazier Hall – 3B
#3 Jake Luce – LF
#4 Matt Wessinger – SS
#33 Mike Antonini – LHP
Check back here for updates all game long from the Duck Pond as Long Island begins their series against the Bluefish! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!
UPDATE (6:56): TOP 1: John Brownell throws his first pitch and we are underway from Bethpage Ballpark!
UPDATE (7:23): TOP 3: Matt Wessinger’s solo homer to left has the Bluefish up 1-0.
UPDATE (8:45): BOT 7: Two runs score on Prentice Redman’s single that hit Mike Antonini and Dan Lyons adds a sacrifice fly and RBI! Ducks lead 3-1!
UPDATE (8:48): BOT 7: Reegie Corona makes it 4-1 LI with a RBI hit to center field!
UPDATE (9:09): BOT 8: The Ducks add two more runs thanks to Cody Puckett and Jose Morales! 6-1 LI, Bruce Kern in to try and wrap up the win.
UPDATE (9:19): TOP 9: RBI double from Jake Luce makes it a 6-2 ballgame. One out in the inning, runners on second and third.
UPDATE (9:23): FINAL: Ducks win 6-2! LI takes the series-opener from the Bluefish! Ducks win by FOUR on night of Davies’ jersey retirement!
Following the 2014 season, the Long Island Ducks surveyed their fans about a variety of topics relating to how they enjoy Ducks baseball and what influences their decision on purchasing tickets. Out of six options determining what most affects their decision to come to a Ducks game, fans overwhelmingly selected promotions/giveaways among the most influential. With that being the case, Ducks fans will have plenty of reasons to make Bethpage Ballpark their home away from home in 2015.
On Monday, the Ducks released their preliminary promotional schedule for the season, something fans had been waiting for throughout the offseason. A breakdown of the schedule shows that of the 70 home games, there are a total of:
-23 Giveaway Nights
-12 Theme Nights
-17 Pyrotecnico Fireworks Extravaganzas
-5 Special events/start times
There is so much already scheduled for the upcoming year on specific dates, and there will likely be some more added as the season goes along. However, even on dates where there may not be a scheduled giveaway or theme, fans will still have a great reason to come to the ballpark aside from the exciting baseball on the field. In 2015, the Ducks will be introducing a brand new Weekly Promotional Schedule that features something taking place each day from Monday through Sunday. More to come on that a bit later in this post.
With so much in store for the upcoming season, and with Opening Day of Ticket Sales just a couple days away (Saturday, March 21), let’s take a look at some of the promotions you won’t want to miss:
Every Night! Weekly Promotions Highlight the Schedule
As you look at the Ducks schedule prior to picking which games you will want to attend in 2015, there will no longer be any curiosity as to whether a certain date has a promotion going on. This year, every night is a promotional night at the Duck Pond! The Ducks have put together a special schedule this year that offers a specific promotion on each day of the week. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will offer fans the opportunity to win big money prizes if a certain situation occurs. Tuesday and Thursdays give those attending games the chance to receive discounts on either tickets, food or beverages at the ballpark. Saturday nights be highlighted by a Pyrotecnico Fireworks Extravaganza, in fact there will be 17 fireworks shows in total throughout the season. Finally, Sundays will feature the always popular Family Fun Days at the ballpark, complete with pre-game autographs and a postgame Kids Run the Bases. There will literally be good times, every time, at Bethpage Ballpark in 2015. CLICK HERE for more details about this year’s Weekly Promotions.
May 1 – Atlantic League MVP Showcased in Bronze
Fans have become accustomed to Opening Night giveaways at Bethpage Ballpark. Charter sponsor P.C. Richard and Son has long offered the first 1,500 fans at the ballpark a bobblehead featuring a Ducks player, manager, coach, or their lovable mascot, “Whistle Guy.” The bobbleheads were replaced in 2013 and 2014 by an even more sought after item, Replica Championship Rings. However, this year, P.C. Richard and Son is offering the first 1,500 through the gates on May 1 an item that has never before been given away at the Duck Pond: Bronze Figurines. The honored Duck? None other than 2014 Atlantic League Player of the Year Lew Ford. The fan favorite, who put together a record-breaking season in his fifth year with the Ducks, will don the shelves of the “Faithful Flock” following Opening Night as a unique piece of memorabilia. In addition, he’ll receive his MVP Award in a special ceremony prior to first pitch. There may not be a ring and banner raising ceremony this year, as was the case in the past two home openers, but it will still surely be a night to remember. CLICK HERE for more information about Opening Night.
Six Dates in May – Collector’s Series Honors Ducks Greats
The Ducks honored several of their most notable players in 2014 when the franchise unveiled its 15th Anniversary Team, as voted upon by the fans. Recognizing the best in team history will continue in 2015, not only with the retiring of two jersey numbers, but with a special Collector’s Series featuring jersey number pins of five key contributors who have helped make the Ducks what they are today. Fans will receive a Ducks Collector’s Pin Pennant first on May 8, followed by a collectible pin on five separate nights in May. Among those being recognized are:
Bud Harrelson (#3) – Manager/Coach/Co-Owner (2000-present). Pin giveaway on May 13
Justin Davies (#4) – Outfielder (2000-‘05). Pin giveaway on May 14
Doug Jennings (#7) – First Baseman (2000-’05). Pin giveaway on May 23 (Day game)
Gary Carter (#8) – Manager (2009). Pin giveaway on May 24
Ray Navarrete (#16) – Infielder/Outfielder (2006-’13). Pin giveaway on May 31
Friday, June 19 – Justin Davies Jersey Number Retirement Night
Throughout the first 15 seasons of Ducks history, the organization saw a great deal of talented players put on the black and orange. However, despite the many notable names, no one had received the honor of having their uniform number retired by the team. In year 16, that will all change. Justin Davies will be the first player in franchise history to receive the highest honor any athlete can receive by a team, as his #4 will be retired at Bethpage Ballpark. Davies spent six memorable seasons with the Ducks from 2000-‘05, helping the franchise become a staple in the Long Island community. Most will remember the Babylon native for helping Long Island to their first-ever playoff berth in 2004, after four seasons of heartbreak, and subsequently their first-ever Atlantic League championship, of which he was named MVP. Davies became one of the most beloved players by the fans during his time on Long Island, and his name still evokes great memories to this day.
Upon the announcement of his special day to come, Davies commented, “I can’t tell you how honored I am and how humbling this is for me. I will be up there with my family and can’t wait to see everyone at the game. Thank you to the Ducks owners, General Manager Mike Pfaff and the entire staff for making this happen.”
As an added bonus, the first 1,500 fans in attendance on June 19 will also receive a Ducks T-Shirt, courtesy of Petro.
Sunday, August 16 – #16 Joins #4 Among Ducks Immortals
Once Davies retired following the 2005 season, Ducks fans were wondering who might be the next great player to call the Ducks home. During 2006, a 28-year-old infielder from New Jersey named Ray Navarrete joined the Flock and began an eight-year run filled with outstanding seasons and even greater memories. From ’06-’13, Navarrete became one of the top players in the Atlantic League, breaking all the franchise records that Davies had and setting a few league records along the way. Despite the success, Ducks fans will always remember him for the two trophies he helped Long Island win in the final years of his career. The dramatic hits and euphoric celebrations of 2012 and 2013 will forever define Navarrete’s time with the franchise he will always remember as “home.”
After hearing the news that he would join Davies as the first two in team history to have their number retired, Navarrete echoed similar sentiments to the man that preceded him. “I am extremely honored and humbled to be one of [the first Ducks to have his number retired],” he said. “Justin and I have always been linked together by the fans and organization, and it means a great deal to me to be able to share this honor and have my number #16 right next to his #4. To have my number 16 retired in the 16th season of the #Ducks and on the 16th day of #August is beyond awesome! A sincere thank you to the Long Island Ducks, their entire front office and staff, every single Ducks fan who has every rooted for us, the Atlantic League for the platform to compete against incredible talent, and all of my teammates who I had the opportunity of playing with during my 8 years at the pond! Looking forward to celebrating this special occasion with family and friends! This is forever…and forever is cool!”
In addition, the first 1,500 fans through the gates on August 16 will be able to take Navarrete home with them…in bobblehead form, courtesy of his clothing company, Digmi.
As a reminder, individual tickets will go on sale for these games and each of this season’s promotional dates on Saturday, March 21 at Bethpage Ballpark. The ticket windows will officially open at 10:00 a.m., and there will be a host of entertainment going on throughout the morning. CLICK HERE to find out all that is going on during the Ducks Opening Day of Ticket Sales. Baseball will be here before you know it!
The Ducks have made the first splash of 2015! Entering the week, no other team in the Atlantic League had announced a player signing for the upcoming season. That changed on Monday when the Ducks unveiled that Dan Lyons would be returning for a fifth consecutive season with the Flock.
This year will be the 16th season of Ducks baseball here on Long Island. In that span, only three men other than Lyons have played five or more seasons in a row with the team. Here’s the company that the man known affectionately as “Shortstop” has now joined:
Ray Navarrete: Eight Consecutive Seasons (2006-13)
Justin Davies: Six (2000-05)
Doug Jennings: Six (2000-05)
Not a bad list to be on at all! That list would grow by one if Lew Ford re-signs with the Ducks in 2015 as well. Lyons has become a fan favorite at Bethpage Ballpark and is coming off a strong season in 2014. In his familiar ninth spot in the batting order, the Minnesota native batted .256, his highest batting average since his first year with on Long Island, and posted his best home run (4), triples (7) and walks (43) totals in a Ducks uniform. Across the board, Lyons resembled the player that earned First Team All-Star honors, an All-Star game selection and the Championship Series MVP award in 2012.
After officially putting pen to paper, the 30-year-old sat down with Ducks Director of Media Relations and Broadcasting Michael Polak to talk about returning to Long Island, his strong season in 2014 and what he’s looking forward to in 2015. Check out the video below for the full interview:
Welcome back Dan! Let us know your thoughts on the first signing of 2015 in the comments section of this post.