(Long Island, NY) The Long Island Ducks held a vote on their web site for the fans to pick their choices for “The Flock Top 15”. Over their six years in existence, the Ducks have had many fan favorites and colorful players. The players are announced weekly on the Ducks web site. There are 5 more names to be released before the season starts. Here’s a recap of what they have given us so far.
Number 15– Bill Simas, P- Big Bill was a part of ‘The Band’, the group of 4 pitchers (Simas, Bill Pulsipher, Matt Beech and Lance Davis) that came back to the Ducks for the post season after being signed by major league clubs in 2004. Simas was a former Chicago White Sox relief pitcher and was dominant in the Atlantic League in his one season. He was the Ducks closer and recorded the last out in the August 9th first half championship, the North Division championship and Atlantic League championship games. He finished the regular season with 17 saves and a 1.95 ERA.
Number 14– Mark Whiten, OF- Everyone remembers Mark Whiten from hitting 4 home runs in one game in 1993 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. But he also had some memorable moments with the Ducks in 2002 and 2003. He hit .311, 19, 61 his first 3 months with the team.
Number 13– Francisco Morales, C- A immensely popular player who was an original Duck in 2000. His best season on Long Island was his last, 2002, when he hit .330, 20, 85.
Number 12– Lance Davis, P- A left-handed starting pitcher that had major league experience with the Cincinnati Reds before coming to the Ducks. Lance started the deciding game in the 2004 North Division playoff series against the Nashua Pride and pitched 7.2 innings of shutout ball. Also pitched for the Ducks in 2005.
Number 11– Jason Johnson, OF- JJ’s 3-year stay with the Ducks lasted from 2003-2005. The highlight was recording the final put-out in rightfield when the Ducks won the league championship in 2004.
Number 10– Tom Caputo, IF- Valley Stream native that played all four infield and two outfield positions in his 3 seasons (2001-2003). His first home run with the Ducks came as a walk-off in 2003 against their rivals, the Bridgeport Bluefish.
Number 9– Dominick Ambrosini, OF- Another local player, Dominick made the 2004 All-Star team in his lone season with the Ducks.
Number 8– Patrick Lennon, DH/IF- Major league veteran who played for the Ducks from 2002-2005. Had a huge season in 2004 with .323, 14, 88. In the team’s playoff run in their championship ’04 season, Pat had 7 RBI and hit .316.
Number 7– Henry Rodriguez, DH/IF- O’Henry came to the Ducks after a major league career that included being named to the NL All-Star team. His lone season on Long Island was 2005, where he helped the team to their second consecutive playoff berth by hitting .322, 27, 72.
Number 6– Kevin Baez, IF- Brooklyn native that was in the New York Mets farm system and played with the big league club in parts of 3 seasons. Played with the Ducks from 2002-2005. Made the Atlantic League All-Star team in back-to-back seasons (’03 and ’04) and was named the game’s MVP in 2004. A big part of the Ducks’ championship run in 2004. Came back the following season as a player/coach before going to coaching full-time in June. A fan favorite who now resides on Long Island.
Who will be in the top 5? Obvious choices will be Bill Pulsipher and Doug Jennings. Cole Liniak had so many big hits in the magical 2004 season. Joe Cotton, Rusty Meacham and Todd Erdos were important relief pitchers. Donavan Osborne, Pedro Borbon Jr., Adonis Harrison, Rusty McNamara, and Rod Henderson (only Ducks no-hitter) are all possibilities. Regardless of who is chosen, all of these players have been an important part of the Ducks and Long Island in general.
I will submit a future column with the remaining 5 Ducks when the complete list is published. Feel free to drop me an e-mail to let me know who your favorite player is and why.