Monday, January 26, 2009

#17 -- Dave Duncan

Dave Duncan

This obviously isn't the prettiest card I own. I scanned this card because it was autographed. It still shows a babyfaced Dave Duncan, especially compared to the more "seasoned" pokerfaced guy we see sitting in the Cardinal dugout now. Dave's almost got a smile going in this card. He usually shows no emotion in the dugout now. The pose is the traditional catcher's pose and we'll see more of this later. He's obviously not from the Johnny Bench school of catching because he's got his throwing hand exposed.

As you can see from the card back, Dave came through the minors as a slugger. I think his 46 homers in 439 ABs in 1965 is still 2nd in the California League record books, even though the Cal League is thought of as a hitters' league. He still had a slugger's mentality when he came to the big leagues, but his secondary numbers weren't strong. I was surprised he went 3/6 stealing bases for Cleveland in 1973. Must have went to his head because he was 0/4 the next year.

Dave was a 1971 American League All-Star. He was 11 27 .245 at the end of the first half, not hardly All-Star numbers. A little more investigation and I see he was an injury replacement for Ray Fosse (who may have not wanted to go back after what happened in 1970). Duncan didn't play (Bill Freehan and Thurman Munson were the AL catchers), but had a front row seat for Reggie's titanic blast off Dock Ellis.

His teams typically had better batting average against with him catching, except for 1972 when his was slightly higher than Gene Tenace. After being swept out of the playoffs by the Orioles in 1971, Dave and the A's got that World Series championship in 1972. However, that was the end of the line with the A's. The A's made a curious move. Gene Tenace emerged in the Series and the A's traded Dave and George Hendrick to the Indians for Ray Fosse and Jack Heidemann. Heidemann was nothing more than infield depth and didn't last. Fosse wasn't an All-Star again, but Hendrick went on to blossom.

Dave's known now for all the great reclamation projects he done with pitchers, from Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Todd Stottlemyre, Jeff Weaver and Kyle Lohse. Now that Leo Mazzone is retired, he's known as one of the top pitching coaches around. His sons, Shelley and Chris, are following in his footsteps somewhat as one dimensional power hitters, although Dave was far superior to either of them in the field. Dave now has a condo on a quiet part of Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo. As a Cardinal fan, I sure hope you've got more tricks up your sleeve this year.

1972 Feature
I've looked back through some of 1972's movie titles and I don't think I went to a movie that year. If I had, it would have been to the drive-in. I don't think my folks took me to see Shaft's Big Score, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things or Play it Again, Sam.

I do remember around that time really liking the Planet of the Apes movies. I've looked and the original with Charlton Heston came out in 1968 ("You blew it up.....Damn you all to hell!!"). In 1972 the 4th out of the 5 Ape movies came out, "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes." It was pretty unremarkable. This is the one where the apes were slaves and Cornelius (son of the "good apes" Charlton Heston would encounter later...come sort of time travel thing) started a revolt to overthrow the humans. By the way, even though this movie was set in the futuristic world of 1991, I don't remember any references to the Bash Brothers, Wide Right or that dang Saddam.

The storyline was kind of cool on the surface, especially seeing all these apes hopping around. There was some shoot-em-up and action. However, I can kind of remember even as an 8 year old getting sick of the preachy message of "The apes are better than the humans, until the apes start acting like the humans."

CBS had a short-lived TV series based on the first movie that came out later. I think I may have even had a Planet of the Apes action set. I didn't watch the remake movie that came out. I've seen a few of those and have been disappointed. I've kept my memories of the originals of Planet of the Apes, Brian's Song, Rollerball and Death Race 2000.


  1. Dave was one of my favorite players. I always had a soft spot for average catchers (or less...hence my backup catcher Hall of Fame idea). I remember being happy that Duncan was acquired by my White Sox. Even though his 1977 card was an airbrush, it was at least a card of him in a White Sox uni. Unfortunately, he did did play for the Sox, although he later became a coach and had several coaching cards in a Sox uni.