(Long Island, NY) Hard to believe that this is already the seventh season of Long Island Ducks baseball. What started out as a ‘maybe’ in 2000 has turned out to be one of the most popular attractions on the island.
Media day was this past Thursday, and on hand to meet and greet were the regulars, and a few new faces, too. Owner Frank Boulton, manager Don McCormack, and coach/part owner Bud Harrelson were joined by new pitching coach Dick Such, first baseman Bucky Jacobsen, and pitcher Pat Mahomes.
Boulton was proud to announce that the Ducks would pass the three million mark in attendance at approximately their 60th home game, the fastest mark for a 6,000 seat stadium. Anyone who has ever attended a Ducks game can easily see why. This is an organization that has done their homework. They are the model for success at the minor league level. From popular promotions, to fun in between inning activities, and a great mascot, what’s there not to like? Throw in inexpensive ticket prices and free parking and there is no question on why they operate at over one hundred percent capacity.
Boulton added that the staff only takes off one week around the holidays, working year-round to prepare the fan’s experience to be the best it can be. The team is comprised of many home grown players who are extremely popular and enjoy interaction with the fans. Sundays at Citibank Park start out with pre-game autograph sessions and conclude with ‘Kids run the bases’ activities. Try getting on the field twice in the Bronx without being escorted off in handcuffs.
Mahomes was named the opening day starter and hopes to return to the major leagues before too long. His best season was in 1999, when he went 8-0 for the New York Mets.
Jacobsen was a big time power hitting prospect in 2004 with the Seattle Mariners before two knee surgeries interrupted his career. Missing all of 2005 due to injury, he hopes to be on the road back to the bigs, as well.
Judging by both players’ opening game performance that may not be as far fetched as some may believe. Mahomes was the winning pitcher and Jacobsen went long in a 5-1 victory at Camden. The Ducks went on to sweep the three game set and begin the season 3-0, heading to Bridgeport before their home opener on Friday May 5th.
A major notable absence on opening day was in centerfield. The last remaining original Duck from year one, West Babylon’s own Justin Davies, decided to retire from baseball. He will be missed by all and forever lauded for his accomplishments on and off the field. Nicknamed by his teammates ‘the Mayor’, Davies had a great career on Long Island and a major reason why the team captured the 2004 Atlantic League championship.
The team’s slogan for 2006 is that every game is a ‘9 inning vacation.’ I couldn’t agree with them more.