Around the League

ALPB mouns the loss of Bud Harrelson

(Central Islip, N.Y., Jan. 11, 2024) – Bud Harrelson, the former Mets great who co-founded and co-owned the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks, has passed away at the age of 79. Harrelson battled courageously with Alzheimer’s since being diagnosed with the disease in 2016.


”Bud’s impact on Long Island will be felt through Ducks baseball for as long as we play,” said Ducks Owner/CEO Frank Boulton. “He was my partner in bringing professional baseball to Long Island following his outstanding playing career in MLB and he made his mark on so many through his charitable giving, appearances and kindness. He was a one-of-a-kind human being, and he is missed greatly.”


Harrelson co-founded the Ducks with Boulton in 1998, and served as the Atlantic League’s first president, as the circuit was in its start up phase. Harrelson, along with Joe Klein, Sparky Lyle, Butch Hobson, Rick Cerone and Willie Upshaw, helped provide the ALPB instant on field credibility and he was vitally important in building the inaugural Ducks roster in 2000. That season, Harrelson managed the Ducks to a league-best 82-58 record and won Manager of the Year honors. Harrelson remained on the Ducks coaching staff until his famous number “3” was retired during pregame ceremonies on August 3, 2018.  In addition to his efforts in building the on field teams, Harrelson was tireless in his off the field efforts to give back to the Long Island community he called home. Whether it was “Beat Buddy” on a par 3 at your favorite charity’s golf outing, a holiday time visit to the pediatric units of hospitals, local parades, PAL dinners, or Make-a-Wish dreams coming true, Harrelson was ubiquitous on Long Island throughout the years. While a native of Niles, California, he came to call Long Island his home during his playing days with the Mets, and stayed on Long Island after his playing career was over.  


“Bud Harrelson’s life was dedicated to the game of baseball, his community and his family,” said Ducks President Michael Pfaff. “He exemplified what it meant to give back and set a community outreach standard for this organization that we work to uphold every day, while keeping his memory alive with Ducks baseball.”


Prior to the Ducks, Harrelson was involved with the ownership of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. His career as an owner followed four decades playing, coaching and managing in Major League Baseball. Buddy was a key member of the 1969 World Series champion and 1973 National League champion New York Mets. In 1971, he won the Gold Glove for his outstanding defensive play at shortstop. Following a 16-year MLB playing career, Harrelson stayed within the Mets organization as a minor league and major league coach before being named manager of the Mets in 1990. In two seasons with New York, Buddy compiled a winning percentage of .529. Harrelson is the only person to be in uniform for both Mets world championships (’69 as a player; ’86 as a coach) and was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 1986.


Despite his endless list of accomplishments in the game, Bud Harrelson was often quoted as saying the greatest thing he ever did in baseball was the Long Island Ducks.

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