BOSTON — You can’t quite say that no one older than Lew Ford has taken an at-bat in professional baseball this year. As my young researcher friend Andrew Reicin discovered, 74-year-old Boots Day, a major leaguer from 1969 through 1974, went to bat on Sept. 15 for the Frontier League’s Evansville Otters as part of a tribute to his retirement as a longtime coach. Day bounced out.
At 45, Ford, the hitting coach and designated hitter for the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks, is a spring chicken compared to Ole Boots. Yet this Duck actually holds his own offensively while teaching the craft to his juniors. In his seventh year in this dual role for the Ducks, he owned a .286/.319/.391 slash line with two homers and 25 RBIs in 144 plate appearances over 51 games.
“I wish I could play more,” Ford said in a recent interview after I attended a Ducks game to check out the Atlantic League’s experimental rules. “I guess it’s kind of a love of the game, love of the competition. But I’m enjoying coaching more so, I think, than playing now.”
In fact, Ford divulged, “I would say most likely I’ll probably be just coaching in the future. Who knows? One day, maybe I’ll come and take a few ABs. I’m kind of ready to pass it on, keep passing it on as a coach.”