Photo by Matt Brown | Angels
By Adam Brady
On a feel-good night of loving thy neighbor, several Ducks players and alumni – along with countless fans of both teams – took part in the first-ever Ducks Night on Tuesday evening at Angel Stadium.
The event came six months after a very successful Angels Night at Honda Center, in which several Halos took part in pregame and in-game festivities.
Tuesday night, Ducks players Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Cogliano, Clayton Stoner, Nate Thompson and alums Guy Hebert, Brad May and Sean Pronger were all part of the revelry. It got underway a few hours before gametime, with Getzlaf, Cogliano and Stoner taking live batting practice (Thompson passed since he is recovering from an Achilles injury.
Getzlaf brought sons Ryder and Gavin, who looked to be in seventh heaven, and Dad met a challenge from his boys when he launched a pitch over the left field wall.
“That was my goal today,” said Getzlaf, who was a catcher until the age of 15. “I definitely needed that to happen, because the last time I did this [in 2007] I couldn’t get one out.”
|Said Getzlaf, who brings his family to several Angels game a year, “I’d do this every day if they’d let me." (Photo by John Cordes) |
Said Getzlaf, who brings his family to several Angels game a year, “I’d do this every day if they’d let me."
Cogliano, on the other hand, had no baseball experience, but held his own in the cage. ”I can’t remember the last time I hit a ball,” he said, showing off his missing front teeth with a grin. “It was a little scary, but it was fun. Obviously I’ve been to a few games, but I’ve never been able to do this. It was good. I liked it.
Cogliano grew up in Toronto keeping his eye on the Blue Jays, but he’s become an Angels fan since coming to Orange County five years ago. I’ve been watching a lot of games lately, and it’s really impressive to see what these guys do,” he said. “Just seeing what we were hitting against, that’s not even close to what these guys face, so it’s really impressive. They probably think what we do is kind of cool too, but this sport is really tough.”
Superstar Mike Trout, who met with the players before the game, was among the Angels who wore special Ducks/Angels co-branded jerseys during warmups. The Ducks also donned them for the ceremonial first pitch. Getzlaf was originally supposed to take the mound, but having done the honors twice before, he handed the ball off to Stoner, who threw a beauty of a strike in the inside corner.
It wasn’t a stretch for Stoner, who was a pitcher and catcher up until the age of 14 in his hometown of Vancouver Island. “There wasn’t a lot of competitive baseball where I was from,” he said. “Everything is hockey back there. So as much as I had fun playing, the travel was just too much and I you kind of had to decide on hockey vs. baseball.”
There was a Ducks flavor throughout the night, as several fans donned the co-branded logoed hat they received free with a special ticket deal, and similar merchandise was available in the Angels Team Store. Ducks Power Players and Wild Wing also mingled with fans and collaborated with the Angels Strike Force girls to launch t-shirts into the stands and take part in other fan events like the Steal Third promotion and Seventh Inning Stretch.
On the large scoreboard in right field, Angels players were made to look like Ducks, complete with missing teeth, jersey and helmet. After an Albert Pujols home run in the sixth inning, the Ducks goal song, Bro Hymn, was played in the stadium and several fans sang along.
And as an added bonus, the Angels downed the Mariners 7-6 to snap an 11-game losing streak.