St. Louis Cardinals: Zach Duke’s graceful and respectful exit


The St. Louis Cardinals once used a powerful left-handed pen arm to confound batters at the back end of games. That lefty was released due to injury but with a new contract in hand, this lefty showed impressive class.

The St. Louis Cardinals took the risk on lefty Zach Duke and put him toward the back of their bullpen. This move came in the middle of the 2016 season and saw the Cardinals sending prospect Charlie Tilson to the White Sox for Duke.

Duke, in his career, had appeared as a starter and was- in fact- a nemesis of the St. Louis Cardinals during his starting days in Pittsburgh. Never a show-stopping ERA, Duke hovered between 4.00 and 5.00 for the majority of his starting career.

Duke saw his starting career come to an end in 2011 after he had left the Pirates and found himself as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Pirates had traded Duke with one year remaining on his contract and the Diamondbacks kept him only for the one year.

Granted free agency at the end of 2011 saw Duke finding his way to the Houston Astros but only until March of 2012. The Nationals took a rider on him and carried him until June of 2013 when they released him as well. The Reds stepped in and picked the lefty from free agency but only until the end of October.

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The 2014 season seemed farther and farther away for Duke as he laid out in free agency with no club to call home. In January of 2014, however, the Milwaukee Brewers kept Zach in the NL-Central. Duke appeared in 58.2 innings but showed that he could still throw bullets from the pen and posted an impressive 2.45 ERA with 74 strikeouts.

This was the turning point for Duke. His strong showing in 2014 made the White Sox snatch him up and use him in their pen. 2015 was still good for Duke and still from the pen. 2016 started even better for him and immediately caught the eye of the St. Louis Cardinals.

All St. Louis Cardinals fans need to pay a massive amount of gratitude to Duke for helping to secure a shaky bullpen. Even more so, St. Louis Cardinals fans have much to thank Duke for in the way in which he departs this team.

After injury shortened his 2017 season, the St. Louis Cardinals issued Duke yet another release of his career. Sitting this winter, Duke evaluated his time with the Cardinals and issued a class act departure thank you message to St. Louis Cardinals fans.

As though the note to the fans wasn’t enough, he also sent a message to his former Cardinals teammates.

What a total class act! If more players were this appreciative of their playing time, teammates, and fans, baseball would be a better place. If it were up to me, I think I would offer Zach Duke a contract just from knowing that he was this classy of a guy!

Let me say thank you to you, Mr. Duke. Thank you for playing hard for our St. Louis Cardinals. Thank you for appreciating fans. And thank you for being a real man.

Duke was snatched in free agency by the Minnesota Twins one day after Christmas. I hope this was a great Christmas present for the Duke family. Surely Duke’s message to fans and teammates was a welcome gift of thanks. I know it was for me.

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Bravo to Duke for showing MLB a softer and more appreciative side of the multi-million dollar sport. Did you like Duke’s sentiments or would you rather see players be competitive always?