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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Summer Diversions

Long Islanders seeking inexpensive tickets to live professional sporting events are in luck as the calendar turns to July.

The Long Island Ducks, the region’s minor league baseball team, are home most of the month. Meanwhile, the New York Islanders are inviting hockey fans on Saturday, July 10 to watch a scrimmage and skills competition featuring their highest draft picks, and the thoroughbreds are running at Belmont Park in Elmont through Sunday, July 18.

The Ducks play at Suffolk County Sports Park in Central Islip, and have a total of 17 home games in July against four of their rivals in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB): the Newark Bears, the York Revolution, the Bridgeport Bluefish, and the Somerset Patriots. A Web search at revealed that good seats could be found for $12 per person for many of these games.

The Sports Park facility can accommodate a little over 6,000 fans, and a number of promotional events in July are of particular note. There will be post-game Grucci fireworks shows after both the Saturday, July 3 and Sunday, July 4 evening games against Newark. And the first 1,500 attending the Ducks-Newark contest on Tuesday night, July 20 will receive a Bud Harrelson bobble head doll, courtesy of Briarcliffe College (full disclosure: I’m on Briarcliffe’s board of trustees). Harrelson, a co-owner of the Ducks and the team’s senior VP of baseball operations as well as one of its coaches, was the shortstop on the New York Mets’ 1969 World Series-winning team.

The Atlantic League’s 2010 All-Star game is being held at the Ducks’ Central Islip stadium on Tuesday, July 6, too, and if you’re a certain age you may recognize the opposing managers. Somerset skipper Sparky Lyle, a former Yankees relief pitcher, is managing the Freedom Division’s top players. Southern Maryland Blue Crabs field general Butch Hobson, a one-time Red Sox third baseman, is managing the Liberty Division’s All-Stars. The Ducks are in the ALPB’s Liberty Division.

Turning to the ice, the New York Islanders’ Orange vs. Blue, 2010 Scrimmage and Skills Competition will be held on Saturday, July 10, at 7 p.m. at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Conducted during the week of mini-camp, the Islanders’ first-round selection in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, 17-year-old forward Nino Niederreiter, is expected to be there along with other top prospects within the Islanders’ organization. Most who are playing in the scrimmage spent much of last season in either the minor professional leagues or playing college hockey.

The team’s future stars will compete after the scrimmage in a skills competition which will include hardest shot, accuracy shooting and a fastest skater relay. Tickets are $10 per person.

Belmont is generally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but will remain open on Monday, July 5 for the three-day weekend, and live thoroughbred horse racing will continue there through Sunday, July 18. General admission is $2 per person. The action then moves to Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY between Friday, July 23 and Monday, Sept. 6. Belmont re-opens for its fall meeting on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: