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 and outfield spots on our 20th Anniversary Team have officially been determined through the first nine weeks of voting. As we reach the halfway point of balloting for this exclusive group, we focus our attention this week on some of the heavy hitters. The Atlantic League has used a designated hitter since its inception in 1998, so it’s only fitting that we include a designated hitter spot on this squad. The trio of nominees for this position features some of the best power hitters in franchise history. All three had Major League experience by the time they joined the Flock, and each one showcased tremendous pop during their time on Long Island. Here are the three candidates for the DH role:
Of the three nominees in this week’s balloting, only Patrick Lennon has an Atlantic League championship ring. The slugger earned his in 2004, which was the third of his four seasons on Long Island. Lennon’s first came in 2002 when he burst onto the scene with 19 home runs, 61 RBIs and a .311 batting average in just 58 games, earning an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays took notice and purchased his contract in July. One year later, it was the Detroit Tigers who came calling after Lennon hit .327 with six homers and 44 RBIs in 40 games with the Flock. The former Mariners first round draft pick put together his finest season in ’04, earning another All-Star Game nod while crushing 14 home runs, driving in 88 runs and compiling a .323 batting average in 116 games. Lennon played in 64 more games during the 2005 season before electing to hang up the cleats. By the time his four seasons with the Flock were complete, the six-year Major League veteran had totaled a .314 batting average, 45 home runs, 226 RBIs, 197 runs, 335 hits, and 73 doubles in 282 games. Not to mention, he garnered two All-Star Game nods, two contract purchases by MLB clubs and a championship.
The first of two, non-related Rodriguez’s on this list came to Long Island in 2005 after playing 11 seasons in the Major Leagues with five different clubs. He made an immediate impact in helping Long Island to the playoffs, posting an Atlantic League-best .322 batting average. The lefty also ranked second in the league with a .413 on-base percentage and a .603 slugging percentage. Rodriguez led the team with 27 home runs, tying what was then a franchise single-season record, and posted team-high totals with 72 RBIs and 56 walks as well. 2006 represented another strong year for H-Rod and another postseason berth for the Flock. The Dominican Republic native played in 90 games, clubbing 12 home runs, driving in 59 runs, totaling 19 doubles, and posting a .287 batting average. Though he did not play in an Atlantic League All-Star Game, he was chosen as an Atlantic League Post-Season All-Star in 2005.
Every time he stepped up in the buildin’, everybody’s hands went UP! Ducks fans will surely remember John Rodriguez using “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled as his walk-up song with the Ducks and raising their hands in unison when he stepped up to the plate. The lefty slugger from New York City spent two strong years with the Flock in 2010 and 2011 and showcased an ability to get on base and hit the ball over the fence. Rodriguez proved to be one of the brightest spots on a 2010 team that had its ups and downs. He posted a .304 batting average and a .392 on-base percentage during the year, accumulating 10 homers, 43 RBIs, 50 runs, 100 hits and 21 doubles in 89 games. One year later, many of those numbers jumped up despite playing in seven less games. The former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder hit .313 with 18 homers, 81 RBIs, and a .398 on-base percentage. He was one of several outstanding hitters on a team that won the first half, second half and Liberty Division. In both of his seasons with the Flock, J-Rod earned an All-Star Game selection, and the slugger also claimed a Second Team Post-Season All-Star nod in 2011.
There are three big-time sluggers to choose from, but just one will earn the spot on our 20th Anniversary Team. Cast your vote throughout the week to help determine if Patrick Lennon, Henry Rodriguez or John Rodriguez will make the squad. Don’t forget: you can vote as often as you’d like over the next week, but only one player can be chosen with each ballot. 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 utility infielder spot.
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.