Chris Duncan dies from brain cancer at 38

September 8th, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- , a former World Series champion with the Cardinals, passed away Friday at the age of 38.

Duncan battled glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, for years before his passing. He was the son of former Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and brother of Shelley Duncan, who played seven years as a Major Leaguer. Duncan’s mother, Jeanine, also died from glioblastoma in 2013.

"The Cardinals are deeply saddened by the passing of Chris Duncan and extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Amy, the entire Duncan family, and his many friends," said Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. "Chris was an integral part of our 2006 championship team and a great teammate and friend to many in the organization."

A left fielder and first baseman, Duncan was selected with the 46th pick in the 1999 Draft and made his debut in September 2005. His first Major League home run, on Oct. 2, 2005, was the last long ball hit in Busch Stadium II. Duncan was a key part of the Cardinals’ championship run in 2006. He batted .293/.363/.589 with 22 homers that season and was named the team's rookie of the year by the St. Louis media and broadcasters.

"This is sad," Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said via email. "Chris was someone who touched so many. Our condolences to his wife Amy and his father Dave."

The native of Tucson, Ariz., spent five seasons with the club, producing an .805 OPS in that span. He also spent time with the Red Sox and Nationals at the Minor League level from 2009-10.

"Way bigger than baseball," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "Just really sad. What a great guy, and way too young. But our condolences go out to Dave, of course; his brother, Shelley; and they're in our prayers."

After ending his playing career, Duncan flourished in his next journey. He joined WXOS, an ESPN radio affiliate, as a broadcaster in 2011, covering St. Louis sports. On the air, Duncan drew a large following by mixing his larger-than-life personality with his unfiltered honesty about the state of affairs. He also brought a fun family aspect to the radio waves, hosting a weekly hit with his dad, Dave, dubbed "Papa Dunc." He took a permanent leave from the station in January to fight cancer.

"Sad news today," Randy Flores, the Cardinals' director of scouting and a former teammate of Duncan's, said via email. "I can’t help but smile when I think of Dunc. He was infectious. He was authentic. He was a gamer. He’ll be forever missed, and my heart goes to his family."

Adam Wainwright, a former teammate of Duncan’s with the Cardinals, said that “everybody that knew Chris was better because of it.” Some of Wainwright’s fondest memories with Duncan came from another manifestation of his captivating personality: his great storytelling ability.

“He lit up a room, and you always knew when he was in the room because he was usually telling some kind of crazy story. Everybody wanted to hear it, because he acted it out. He always acted out his stories with voices and facial expressions and body movements and whatnot.

"Even when he was at his sickest, [Duncan] always stayed upbeat. That's a great thing."