Dave Duncan was a catcher who played 11 seasons in the majors. He hit 109 home runs in 929 games finished with a career batting average of .214. He didn’t stay in the big leagues because of his hitting, although he did hit 46 home runs in the minors one season. He stayed in the majors because he was an outstanding catcher.
Dave Duncan belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Duncan belongs in the shrine not because of his playing career, of course, but because of what he has done after he put away the catchers mitt. Dave Duncan is the best pitching coach in baseball history. He should be the first major league coach inducted into Cooperstown. Duncan and former manager Tony LaRussa were joined at the hip. He worked his magic with pitchers in the majors for 31 years, making him the longest tenured pitching coach in the games history. He turned average pitchers into above average pitchers. He turned dead end careers around. He helped good pitchers become hall of famers.
Duncan notified the Cardinals that he will not be back for the final year of his contract because he needs to be with his wife who is suffering from brain cancer. “Dunc” was the highest paid coach in the game and indications are the Cardinals will pay him anyway. Good for the Cardinals.
There is no rule that a coach cannot be inducted into Cooperstown. But none have. Dave Duncan should break that barrier.
THE PICNIC BENCH
Deposed Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was called a control freak by some in the media who covered the team. I recall during his first training camp the we were given a full page of rules to follow. I don’t remember them all but they included no cell phones, texting or emails from Rams park. The rules were laughable. He also had “historical” photos of the Super Bowl champions taken off the walls at Rams park as he tried to start a new tradition. Well, 10 and 38 was not the kind of tradition anyone had in mind. But, maybe the most laughable rule was during practice. There is a picnic bench near the outside practice fields at Rams park. And, if an unsuspecting member of the media decided to watch some of practice while sitting on the picnic bench, a member of the Rams PR department would be dispatched to the bench to inform that person that they were in violation of the coaches rules.
The rule? Because the players were not sitting down during practice, all members of the media present must also be standing. Sitting on the bench was against the coaches rules. I’m not kidding. Wouldn’t you think that a head coach of an NFL team would have more to be concerned about than if someone from the media was sitting on a bench during practice?