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 infield has been set on the 20th Anniversary Team thanks to a brilliant first five weeks of voting. Thousands of fans have been casting their ballots weekly, and from catcher to third base, five outstanding players have emerged based upon fan voting. Our focus now shifts to the outfield, where some more Long Island Ducks greats await their fate with regards to being among this select group. The final team will feature four outfield spots, and fans will be able to select one of three nominees each week over the next four rounds of voting to help determine the outfielders. With that in mind, let’s find out our first three outfield nominees:
Long Island’s first-ever Atlantic League championship, which came in 2004, was due in large part to Kimera Bartee. One need only look back to arguably the most famous game in franchise history, on August 9, 2004 at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn. Bartee’s two-run blast in the fifth inning tied their game with the Bluefish at four, and the Ducks would go on to win the game by a run, clinching the first postseason berth in franchise history. Without that homer, who knows if the Ducks become champions that year? Bartee spent two memorable seasons on Long Island, with the first coming a year prior in 2003. The six-year MLB veteran played 116 games that year, totaling a .328 average and finishing second on the team in RBIs (87), runs (86) and hits (147). One year later, those numbers skyrocketed. He led that magical 2004 squad in several offensive categories, including home runs (27), RBIs (88), runs (103) and hits (142). Bartee was a defensive whiz as well, committing just one error in his two seasons with the Flock, a total of 217 games spent in the outfield. Bartee earned an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection that year as well before going on to earn a ring in his final season of pro baseball. Currently, he serves as the Pittsburgh Pirates first base coach.
Ducks fans have always seemed to gravitate towards Long Island natives who have come to play for the team. In three seasons with the club, Smithtown native Dominick Ambrosini was certainly beloved among the Faithful Flock. A sixth round draft pick out of Connetquot High School in 1999, the versatile outfielder came back to play for his hometown team in 2005 and immediately made an impact. He hit .288 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs over 108 games played with the Ducks, helping the franchise to a second consecutive playoff berth. One year later, Ambrosini again led the Ducks to the playoffs, totaling 79 hits in 64 games played along with a .317 batting average, eight homers and 48 RBIs. He made just six errors over those two seasons as well. Ambrosini struggled at the outset of the 2007 season before eventually finishing his career with the Lancaster Barnstormers that year. However his time with the Ducks was certainly memorable for the fans who watched him play and for the scrappy outfielder who got to live out the dream of playing in front of family and friends on a nightly basis.
Another fan favorite rounds out our three nominees for the week. After narrowly missing out on a Championship Series appearance in 2009, the Ducks fortified their outfield heading into 2010 with Matt Esquivel, who had impressed offensively over his two previous seasons while with the York Revolution. His prowess with the bat continued in 2010, as he led the Flock with 17 home runs, 132 hits, 85 runs and 28 doubles in a team-high 127 games played. After hitting .281 during his first season with the Ducks, the number ballooned up to .328 in 2011 on a team loaded with offensive talent. Esquivel accrued a .420 on-base percentage, 15 homers, 69 RBIs, 65 runs and 109 hits while leading the Ducks to a Liberty Division Championship. That same season, he was selected to play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game and won the pre-game Home Run Derby in front of his former fan base in York. Injuries limited Esquivel to just 64 games in 2012, but he scored one of the most important runs in team history. After drawing a one-out walk in the ninth inning of Game Five during the Atlantic League Championship Series, Esquivel later scampered home from third base with the winning run on Dan Lyons’ famous bunt down the third base line. Not a bad way to end your professional career!
The first three of ultimately 12 outfield nominees have been revealed. Now, it’s time for you, the fans, to help determine whether Bartee, Ambrosini or Esquivel will get a spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. Visit our voting page by clicking the link below and selecting one of the three candidates; You can vote as often 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!
Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll reveal our next three nominees for an outfield position.
With the beginning of the season less than two months away, voting for the 15th Anniversary Team continues to heat up. With last week’s voting covering the best third basemen in Ducks history, we now officially have our “Flock 15” infield set! Similar to second base, the winner of this position won quite convincingly. Who is that, you ask? You’ll have to wait until Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark on May 2 to find out.
Now that the infield is finalized, it is time to head to the outfield as we look to complete the position players on the 15th Anniversary Team. We have compiled a list of nine players, all of who have made considerable contributions to the Ducks organization over their respective careers. There will be no distinctions between right fielders, left fielders and center fielders. Instead, fans will be allowed to vote for any three outfielders among the nominees. The top three vote-getters will be added to the already-talented “Flock 15” team.
Many of the outstanding outfielders up for voting are synonymous with marquee moments in Ducks history. Among these nine players are a combined nine Atlantic League championship rings and nine ALPB All-Star game appearances. The list includes one player currently on the 2014 Ducks roster, one who was on the inaugural Ducks team in 2000, and three with Major League experience. All of the candidates are certainly deserving of a spot on the final roster. Here are the choices (in alphabetical order):
One of three players on this list with Major League experience (1996-2001), Bartee made his mark at the Duck Pond during the 2003-04 seasons. The 2004 Atlantic League All-Star’s overall batting average with the Ducks stands at an impressive .324, good for second-best among the outfield nominees. Additionally, the Nebraska native is tied for second amongst the outfield choices in home runs (35) and third in RBI (175). Bartee ranked in the top five in the league in RBI both years he was with the Ducks, and launched 27 home runs in 2004, good for second most in the league. A member of the 2004 Atlantic League championship team, the Creighton alum also stole 48 bases over his two years on Long Island.
While other nominees on this list may have multiple championship rings or multiple ALPB All-Star game selections, Binick is the only one with both. The Hicksville resident was selected to play in the 2011 and 2012 All-Star games while earning championships with Long Island in 2012 and 2013. Over the NYIT alum’s three-year Ducks career, Binick sported a .292 average along with nine home runs, 99 RBI and 78 stolen bases. What truly stand out in Binick’s Ducks career are his 2011 season and overall postseason numbers. In 2011, Binick led the league in batting (.343), steals (42) and on-base percentage (.429). Over three postseasons as a Duck, Binick hit at an impressive .352 clip. Talk about clutch hitting!
Unlike all of the other nominees, Brodin had never played in affiliated baseball before coming to Long Island. It was not until he parlayed his impressive 2013 season with the Ducks into a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, making him the fifth Duck to be signed by an MLB team that season. Acquired by Long Island in July of 2012, Brodin made his presence known, batting .369 with seven RBI in the 2012 postseason, earning a hit in all five games during the Atlantic League Championship Series. The Washington native returned for the 2013 season and hit .307 over 106 games with 11 home runs, 48 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. That earned the College of Charlestown alum an All-Star game selection. Brodin hit .300 over 155 games in his two years with the Ducks.
Davies is the longest tenured Duck on this list by a considerable margin and one of the most beloved by Long Islanders. While born in Thailand, he was adopted as a baby by a Long Island couple and raised on the Island. He grew up in West Babylon and moved to Central Islip when he was a Duck, making him a true “local” player. Davies was also ubiquitous in the community, attending every parade, hospital appearance and school visit there was. On the field, he signed with Long Island for their inaugural 2000 season. Central Islip would be the final stop in Davies’ career, as he spent the next six years with the Ducks. In that time, he amassed one championship (2004), two All-Star selections (2003, ’05), a .273 batting average, the single-season team record for walks (85 in 2002) and a franchise record 149 stolen bases. When he retired, Davies was also the franchise leader in nearly every offensive category. The Queens College alum is known best for delivering two game-winning hits in the 2004 Atlantic League Championship Series, earning himself Series MVP honors and the first ever title for Long Island.
The third-longest tenured nominee (283 games), Esquivel spent three years at the Duck Pond (2010-12). The Texas native is the owner of a.294 batting average with the Ducks and leads all nominees in home runs (36) while ranking second in RBI (176). While the former Atlanta Braves farmhand truly stood out during his first two years on Long Island, including a .328 average in 2011, Esquivel’s marquee Ducks moment came in Game Five of the 2012 Championship Series. With the scored tied at four in the bottom of the ninth, the 2011 All-Star scampered home from third with the series-clinching run on Dan Lyons’ walk-off bunt. It was a moment that has Esquivel etched in Ducks history, forever.
LEWWW!! The iconic former Major Leaguer is the lone nominee that is still a part of the active roster. Ford has already been signed by the Ducks for the 2014 season, his fifth with the organization. Only this time, he returns as a player/coach. The Texas native first came to Long Island in 2009 and immediately experienced success, finishing second in the league in batting (.330). Ford returned to the Island in 2011, and subsequently spent parts of the next two seasons with the Ducks. The long-time Minnesota Twins outfielder began the 2012 season with Long Island before earning a contract with the Baltimore Orioles after a month. By July, he was donning a Major League uniform for the first time in 2007, becoming the 13th player in team history to return to the big leagues after playing with the Ducks. Long Island went on to win the 2012 Atlantic League title, and Ford would be part of another championship with the Flock last year after returning to the team in August. During the 2013 playoffs, he batted .412 and recorded hits in all seven games which he played. Over his four-year Ducks career, Ford owns the franchise record in batting average (.330) along with 24 home runs and 121 RBI.
While Haverbusch is one of only two nominees on this list who did not win a championship with the Ducks, his numbers are still more than enough to earn his place among the choices. Over three seasons with the Flock (2006-08), the Rockville Centre native posted 35 home runs and a nominee-leading 182 RBI. The 35 long-balls ties Haverbusch with Bartee for second-most among “Flock 15” outfield nominees. Additionally, the 2007 All-Star selection recorded a .271 average in his 273 games with Long Island. The long-time Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand’s best season with the Ducks came in 2008, where he hit .289 with 14 home runs and 66 RBI.
Johnson represents our third nominee that was a part of the first Ducks championship team in 2004. A 12th round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1996 draft, Johnson spent three years with the Ducks (2003-05) to finish his professional career. After playing in only 24 games in his first season, Johnson became a major contributor in the Ducks ’04 title run, playing in 100 regular season games. The owner of a career .282 average with the Flock, Johnson finished fourth in the league in steals that season (36). Overall, he stole 56 bases in his Ducks career while adding 16 home runs and 110 RBI. However, the most memorable moment of Johnson’s career on Long Island came at the end of that ’04 season when he caught the final out of the Championship Series, securing Long Island’s first championship trophy.
Our final nominee spent the least amount of time on Long Island but still made a lasting impression on the Faithful Flock. Stocker spent the 2006 season with Ducks, and while he did not win an Atlantic League championship, he put together an outstanding season. The Arizona native set a Ducks record with 56 stolen bases that year, good for second in the league. Additionally, the Arizona State alum hit .303 over 110 games with three home runs, 39 RBI, 19 double and eight triples. Those numbers earned Stocker a 2006 All-Star Game selection and a contract in 2007 with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. By September, he earned a call-up to the big leagues and played in nine games, adding to the list of Ducks who made it back to “The Show” after coming to Long Island.
There it is, fans: your “Flock 15” outfield nominees. Choosing three players out of this impressive list might be your toughest decision yet. Please be sure to vote in the poll below for the three outfielders that you feel are most deserving of a spot. In addition, if you feel we left out someone who should be on the team, you can write in a candidate by selecting ‘Other.’ The 15th Anniversary Team is already loaded with infield talent; now it’s time for you, the fans, to add some talented outfielders to the squad. As for next week, we move on to the designated hitter.