By Jerry Del Priore
Early this year, doctors diagnosed Bud Harrelson with Alzheimer’s disease, an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly eradicates memory and cognitive skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.
On Friday, August 3rd at 6:35 p.m. at Bethpage Ballpark, the Long Island Ducks—an independent minor league baseball association for players looking for an opportunity with a MLB affiliated franchise—have teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Association to present “Bud Harrelson Appreciation Night”.
The night will be highlighted by a pre-game ceremony honoring the New York baseball legend and all that he has accomplished with Long Island’s hometown team. During the festivities, Harrelson’s No. 3 jersey, which he wore throughout his 13-year career with the New York Mets and since the Ducks inaugural season of 2000, will be permanently retired and affixed next to the DuckVision video board in left-center field. The program will also feature special remarks from the Harrelson family and members of the Ducks organization.
I’ve always admired Harrelson, and here why:
During the winter of 2012 I attended the former Met shortstop and manager’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 member of their 1986 World Series Championship coaching staff (he’s the only person to be in uniform for both titles). It was being a part of the ownership group that, on April 28, 2000, brought the Ducks to Central Islip.
“The Ducks have been, and will always be, the best thing I have ever done in my 50 plus years in professional baseball,” Harrelson said on LIDucks.com. “It was always my dream to bring the passionate residents of Long Island a baseball team they can root for in a safe and affordable ballpark. I am forever grateful that I was able to make that dream a reality, and I cannot thank Ducks fans enough for their support every year.”
The praise and love for Harrelson is felt throughout the Long Island community and in baseball, according to Ducks President/GM Michael Pfaff.
“Words do little in describing what Bud Harrelson has meant to the game of baseball, the Long Island community and the Ducks,” Pfaff said. “Now, facing his Alzheimer’s diagnosis head on, it is fitting we pay tribute to the man and all he has done, while raising awareness for the cause.”
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets for Bud Harrelson Appreciation Night.