It’s been about a week since Dan McLaughlin broke the news on Fox Sports Midwest. Yet as time went on and the St. Louis Cardinals kept playing, the gravity of the moment still has not set in.
There is never a good time for bad news. Fans groan and gripe about the St. Louis Cardinals plenty but sometimes things happen that pull fans, players and staff out of the moment and above the surface.
Like most of you reading this article, I was watching the St. Louis Cardinals game out in Pittsburgh on September 6th. Everything was great so far. Tommy Edman hung in for nine pitches against Alex McRae before sending the tenth pitch into the right-field seats of PNC Park for his first of two homers that night.
All was well on the Cardinals’ front until this news broke:
All of the credit in the world should be given to Danny Mac and Jim Edmonds in the booth for maintaining composure as the news set in and the game continued to unfold.
A former first-round selection by the Cardinals from Canyon del Oro High School in Oro Valley, Arizona in 1999, Chris Duncan played five years in St. Louis from 2005 to 2009. During his time with the Cardinals, he batted .257 with 55 home runs and 175 RBIs. In addition, Duncan held a .348 on-base percentage and a .458 slugging percentage.
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You can make a strong case that the Cardinals do not win the 2006 World Series without Chris Duncan. His pinch-hit home run off Pedro Feliciano in Game 5 of the NLCS and his Game 1 RBI in the World Series of then-rookie Justin Verlander helped us win to our tenth Commissioner’s trophy.
After his career, he joined 101 ESPN and held his own radio show. Considered a rising star, Duncan was known best for his objectivity and unabashed criticism of the team, something ex-Cardinals were afraid of doing. From Dan Caesar’s article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"“Duncan simply wasn’t afraid to say what was on his mind, and didn’t care whose freshly painted canvas he smudged. He’d even make comments that negatively impacted his father.”"
On a personal note, Chris Duncan was one of my favorite players on those late-2000s Cardinals teams. I wore 16 in high school baseball and tried to copy his batting stance, albeit right-handed. I was even fortunate enough to see him homer in my first ever trip to Busch Stadium with my dad in June 2007.
To me, Chris Duncan epitomized who the St. Louis Cardinals are. His hustle, desire to win, and refusal to give up are some of the characteristics we think of when it comes to the Cardinal Way.
Rest in Peace, Chris. Cancer sucks.