Landers: The little-known but awesome story of pro baseball’s first father-son battery

From Chris Landers at’s Cut Four on June 7, 2016, with mention of SABR member Larry Lester:

Even now, it’s a sacred American institution, immune to whatever cynicism you can throw at it. And a full 75 years ago, Frank Duncan Jr. and Frank Duncan III managed to live that dream on a massive stage: While playing for the Negro Leagues’ Kansas City Monarchs in 1941, the Duncans became the first father-son battery in the history of professional baseball. 

Long before Jackie Robinson broke the big league color barrier, the elder Duncan established himself as one of the best backstops in baseball over two decades playing mostly in Kansas City. Duncan never hit for much power, but he made up for that with leadership, amazing receiving skills and a lightning-quick arm. Larry Lester, co-chair of the Society of American Baseball Research’s Negro Leagues Committee, even called him “one of the most outstanding catchers in Negro Leagues baseball.”

If you’re wondering how much of an impact a guy with a career slash line of .243/.320/.309 can have, consider: Duncan led the Negro Leagues in defensive win shares every year from 1921-1925, and he managed a Monarchs pitching staff that featured three future Hall of Famers — Bullet Joe Rogan, Hilton Smith and even Satchel Paige, who once even claimed that “no one was a better catcher than Frank outside of [Hall of Famer Josh] Gibson.”

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Originally published: June 7, 2016. Last Updated: June 7, 2016.