2006: Record Fun at the Pond
The Madison Mallards? sixth season saw a fourth consecutive trip to the Northwoods League Playoffs, a new attendance record and continued improvements in the fan experience at the Duck Pond.
On the field, the Ducks posted a 36-32 regular season record en route to their fourth straight appearance in the South Division playoff series. Unfortunately, the Mallards? season was cut short as they fell to the Rochester Honkers, two games to none, in the divisional series.
Despite the end to the season, making it to the playoffs was a great accomplishment considering how the season began. At one point in the first half, the Mallards had lost seven straight games and were last in the South Division.
The Ducks rallied back to close out the first half at 16-18, and came on strong in the second half. Toward the end of the regular season, Madison was locked in a battle with the La Crosse Loggers for the second-best overall record in the South Division. The Mallards were able to pick up some much-needed wins and earn a trip to the playoffs, thanks in part to a five-game winning streak.
Statistically, the Mallards had their best pitching staff ever. The team earned the Northwoods League record for team ERA in a single season with a 2.17 mark. With that, the Mallards broke their own record of 2.31, set in 2005.
Right handers Brian Smith and Mike Creevy were named midseason All-Stars. Smith finished the season at 3-4 with a 2.87 ERA. He struck out 36 and walked only seven in just under 60 innings pitched. Creevy ended the 2006 campaign with a 5-2 record and a sparkling 0.97 ERA. He struck out 47 and walked just 11 in over 46 innings pitched. In addition, he saved eight games for the Ducks. Following the season, left-handed pitcher Eryk McConnell was also recognized as a Northwoods League Post-season All-Star. He finished the 2006 season with the third-best ERA in the league, 1.38, and also a 5-2 record.
Aside from Smith and Creevy, the Mallards also had three other midseason All-Stars. Shortstop Ryan Bond and outfielders Jordan Comadena and Bobby Hubbard were additionally honored with a trip to the All-Star game in La Crosse.
The season also marked the end of Mike Rohde?s terrific four-year career in Madison. The Brookfield, Wis., native (pictured above) finished with a .259 career average to go along with 87 RBI and 84 runs scored. In 219 games he hit for 40 extra-base hits, seven of them home runs, and walked 83 times. His 28 doubles are a Mallards career record, as are his marks for RBI, games played and walks. He is also tied for most home runs. Throughout his career, Rohde proved equally threatening on the base paths. In 40 attempts, Rohde was caught stealing just 11 times. He was also the first Mallards player to be inducted into the Madison Mallards Wall of Fame.
August 4, 2006 was a very special day at the Duck Pond. While the Mallards were at Waterloo, the Duck Pond was the site of the first-ever Mallards and MLB Alumni Game. Steve Schmitt?s All-Stars and Maynard?s All-Stars, comprised of former Major League and Mallards players, competed in one seven-inning game. The MLB alumni included Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew (pictured below, left), Cy Young Winner Vida Blue, Jim Gantner, Dave Kingman and Bill ?Spaceman? Lee. The former Mallards included an array of players that suited up for the Ducks from 2001-2005. Steve Schmitt?s All-Stars edged out Maynard?s All-Stars 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning in front of 6,353 fans.
In the stands, the Mallards drew 205,896 fans to the Duck Pond for the 2006 regular season and averaged 6,056 fans per game. That milestone had previously never been surpassed by any Northwoods League team, or any summer college baseball league, for that matter. Including the alumni and playoff games, 216,036 people visited the Duck Pond this summer.
Another highlight was the World?s Largest First Pitch. The Mallards briefly held the first pitch record in 2005, with 2,052, before having it filched by the Brevard County Manatees, who were able to muster up 4,218 ceremonial tosses. But the Ducks took back the hallowed record as 5,127 first pitches were thrown on Sunday, August 6, 2006.
The 2006 season also saw some additions to the Duck Pond, including a new concessions and seating area in the Great Dane Duck Blind, the Great Dane Duck Blind Rooftop. Also, Blowup Maynard, a huge, colorful likeness of Mallards Mascot Maynard G. Mallard was added to the Meriter fan zone, and more bleachers were added in the American Family Area. The Snack Shack was moved, as well, and the American Family Ball Wall was added to allow fans to be a part of the Duck Pond forever.
The Mallards would like to thank the 216,036 fans who came out to the Duck Pond this year and helped make another great season of Madison Baseball.