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ton Quarterly June 2012:page 01 6/1/12 2:22 PM Page 1 JUNE 2012 THE ANTON A C N T O N O M M U N I T Y N E W S P A P E R S Susan Lucci Page 3 A Day Or Night With The Ducks By Ronald Scaglia erry Seinfeld once remarked about baseball, “As long as the grass is green, the gloves are leather and the bats are wood, I’m good.” Many diehard baseball fans might agree with this. Oh, but there is so much more. Attending a baseball game can stir so many emotions. There’s the flood of nostalgia among adults as they recall the happy memories of attending baseball games during their youth. There’s the excitement in the faces of the children as they get to see their heroes live and the thrill of chasing and capturing a foul ball that’s been hit into the stands. The crack of the bat, the pop of the glove, and the buzz of the crowd which escalates to a full- blown roar whenever a player on the home team makes a big play, all of these make baseball games special to attend. And somehow, the Ducks enhance this experience when playing at Bethpage Ballpark. Because of its intimate setting, fans are up close up to the action, so every pitch, every hit, and every play is not only observed, it’s experienced. Bud Harrelson, co-owner, senior vice-president of baseball operations, and first base coach, emphasizes that the Ducks provide affordable, family entertainment. Inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1982, Harrelson says that Bethpage Ballpark provides better amenities than his former home, Shea Stadium. Among these are easy access for fans, J Ducks second baseman Ray Navarrete up at bat. The Port Washington resident is very active in the Long Island community. Photo courtesy of the Long Island Ducks D N G A N I GR EN OP free parking, frequent promotional giveaways, and a good baseball game. “This is the best thing I’ve ever done in baseball,” Harrelson says proudly as he sits in the trainers room prior to a game waiting to take the field with his teams. “There was never a minor league baseball team on Long Island before. It’s impacted the community that I live in.” Harrelson’s statement is quite fascinating, considering the memorable baseball moments he has been a part of. He is the only person to be on the field in a Mets uniform for both of their world championships. Harrelson was the shortstop during the Mets 1969 miracle season and was the third base coach in 1986 when the Mets won their second world championship in remarkable fashion. In fact, as Ray Knight came home to score the winning run of game 6 of that World Series, one of the most extraordinary baseball games ever played, it is Harrelson who ran behind him, waving his arms and urging him home. Yet, despite enough incredible baseball memories to span the career of several players, Harrelson still exhibits the same love and passion for the game as an 18year-old trying to break into “the show.” He hits the field about two and a half hours before game time as the players do their exercise routine. He tosses batting practice, catches the ceremonial first pitch, meets fans, signs autographs, and even lets some fans slip on his championship ring from that ’86 Mets team. And this is in addition to being the Photo courtesy of the Long Island Ducks first base coach at home games. And when the team wins one at Bethpage Ballpark, something they have done quite frequently this season, you will see Harrelson running out onto the field to congratulate his players as if he were back at Shea in the autumn of 1986. “To see them all run out in the bottom of the ninth after a win, my heart goes like this,” says Harrelson as he pounds on his chest. That enthusiasm is something that the Ducks organization encourages in its players. According to Harrelson, players are ex- pected to hustle and maintain a professional demeanor during games, so do not expect to hear players uttering profanities. Harrelson says that because the Ducks are independent and not affiliated with a major league franchise, they can be more restrictive about bad antics by the players as the members of the league cannot resort to filing grievances with a players’ association. 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Anton Quarterly - June 2012

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