For nearly 50 years, Dave Duncan has had a full life doing everything imaginable in baseball.
Not only did Duncan impress as a player and coach, but two of his sons reached the major leagues. That included Chris Duncan, an outfielder who played for St. Louis Cardinals in the late 2000s when Dave was the team’s pitching coach.
Since leaving Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals after the 2011 season, Duncan’s life has been filled with immeasurable tragedy.
Dave Duncan played 11 MLB seasons
Now 75 years old, Dave Duncan is a long way removed from debuting as an 18-year-old catcher in May 1964.
A longhaired catcher with some pop, Duncan hit .214 with 109 home runs and 341 RBIs in 11 seasons. Duncan spent seven of those seasons with the Athletics, even making the 1971 All-Star Game when he hit .253 with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs in 103 games.
In seven career playoff games, Duncan hit .308 with two RBIs. Oakland defeated Pete Rose and the Cincinnati Reds in the 1972 World Series, giving Duncan his first championship.
Duncan has had a long coaching career
Although he had a lengthy playing career and won a World Series, Dave Duncan is arguably best known for his coaching.
Duncan began coaching in 1978 with the Cleveland Indians. Five years later, Duncan joined former teammate Tony La Russa, who managed the Chicago White Sox at the time.
Duncan not only served as La Russa’s pitching coach but as a close confidant who followed his friend wherever he went. Under Duncan’s watch, four pitchers across three franchises won the Cy Young Award, and numerous others thrived as All-Star aces.
Duncan won three World Series titles as La Russa’s pitching coach, including two with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and 2011.
Dave Duncan lost his wife and son to brain cancer
Although Tony La Russa retired after the 2011 season, Dave Duncan intended to remain as the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching coach.
However, Duncan took an indefinite hiatus in January 2012. Duncan’s wife, Jeanine, was battling brain cancer, and he wanted to be with his wife.
Further tragedy struck the Duncan family a few years later. Duncan’s youngest son, Chris, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012 but returned to his radio job after treatment.
Sadly for the Duncan family, Chris Duncan’s cancer returned in January 2019. Duncan died that September from glioblastoma, the same disease that killed his mother.
Chris was only 38 years old when he passed away.
Dave and his oldest son, Shelley, have remained in baseball after the tragedies. Dave is now a pitching consultant for the Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox hired Shelley, an ex-slugger for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, as an analytics coordinator in December 2020.