Wednesday, March 11, 2009

#63 -- Duke Sims

Duke Sims

That gal over Duke's shoulder in the crowd really seems to be giving the business to someone. You usually don't see the hand on one hip for nothing. Glad it's not me.

Duke had a great baseball name for a catcher. Short, tough and to the point. He started out with the Indians and platooned with Joe Azcue through the late 60's, developing some pop. However, when Ray Fosse came along, and there wouldn't be any platooning. Duke had enough power that the Indians wanted to keep him in the lineup, so they gave him at bats at first and the outfield, but Duke was built to be a catcher (how's that for being nice?).

The Dodgers traded a couple of pitching prospects for Duke in the 1971. He hit well, sharing time with Tom Haller (who also hit lefthanded). Unfortunately, he got off to a bad start in 1972 and the Dodgers waived him, since they had Chris Cannizzaro and were bringing Steve Yeager and Joe Ferguson along.

The Tigers picked him up and he went on a tear, hitting .316 in the August/September pennant race, picking up the slack when Bill Freehan went down in late September with a couple of weeks to go. In the ALCS he got his only postseason opportunity. He was behind the plate when Lerrin LaGrow hit Bert Campaneris and Campy helicoptered his bat past LaGrow's head.

Duke's 100 career homers are tops among ballplayers born in Utah. Chris Shelton, recently of the Tigers and Rangers, is second with 37. That record looks to be solid for a few more years.


  1. Duke was my favorite baseball player as a kid. There were always pictures of him in the Cleveland papers hanging out at Swingo's restaurant with a bunch of women!!!!!

  2. i have a baseball that i want to see what it is worth. made from cork & rubber #63

  3. Duke paid for alot of bars