The Long Island Ducks: The Best “Quack” for Your Baseball Buck
During the winter of 2012 I attended former New York Met Bud Harrelson’s Turning Two book signing at Barnes and Noble on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
I was surprised to learn that the accomplishment he considered his greatest wasn’t winning the 1969 World Series as a Met, or being a part of their 1986 World Series Championship coaching staff (he’s the only person to be in uniform for both Mets’ titles). It was being a part of the ownership group that, on April 28, 2000, brought the Long Island Ducks, who play in the Atlantic League – an independent minor league for baseball players looking for an opportunity with a MLB affiliated organization – to Central Islip.
Harrelson, who also serves as the Ducks’ Senior VP of baseball operations and bench coach, said he takes great pride in the positive impact the Ducks have had on the community he lives in, seeing firsthand the good the organization has done over the years. Aside from giving Long Island baseball fans a more affordable option right in their own backyard, the Ducks are extremely active in the community. They participate in neighborhood parades, school reading and recycling programs, hospital visits and anti-hunger drives all year-round.
As I listened to Harrelson extol the Ducks’ philanthropic work, it had me reminiscing about the first time I visited Bethpage Ballpark (known as Citibank Park at the time) in April of 2003. The animated crowd, fan friendly experience, picturesque beauty of the venue and competitive level of play impressed me. It didn’t hurt that I scored a cool bobblehead of Ducks’ loveable mascot, QuackerJack.
These are some of the reasons why I keep coming back, and why over five million fans have kept the turnstiles spinning at a fever pitch since the Ducks’ inception.
Did I mention the economical price of admission? With individual ticket prices ranging from approximately 11 to 15 dollars (nine bucks for standing room), it’s the best dollar-for-dollar value for professional baseball in the area, and there isn’t a bad seat in the ballpark.
Over the years, the Ducks, who are named for Long Island’s rich duck farming heritage, have welcomed many well-known players to Bethpage Park. This list includes Lew Ford, Dontrelle Willis and Sidney Ponson, as well as ex-Mets Carlos Baerga, Edgardo Alfonzo, Bill Pulsipher, Armando Benitez and Timo Perez.
If all of the aforementioned reasons aren’t enough to entice you, the number of themed nights and promotional giveaways will. Autograph Sundays, Grucci Fireworks Extravaganzas, special themed games, bobbleheads, lunch boxes, foam fingers, baseball caps and t-shirt giveaways just add to the excitement of seeing the Ducks shine on the diamond.
Bethpage Ballpark is also known for attracting celebrity fans on occasion. Former WWE wrestler and Long Island native Mick Foley has been spotted at games with his family, sans the steel, folding chair.
If playoff action is something you crave, the Ducks seem to always manage their way into the postseason. In fact, they have captured three championships in their history: 2004, ’12 and ’13.
With the 2015 baseball season around the corner, now is the perfect time to make plans for Long Island Ducks baseball.
So, what are you waiting for? Quack to it!