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*The birth of Frank Duncan in 1901 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black baseball player and manager in the Negro Leagues.
Duncan was born and raised in Kansas City. He played on semi-pro teams in St. Joseph, Missouri, and Chicago before he was traded to the Kansas City Monarchs in 1921. One of the top catchers in the Negro Leagues, Frank Duncan spent most of his playing career with the Monarchs. He was their first-string catcher during the Monarchs' glory years of the 1920s, when the team won three consecutive league championships.
Duncan was behind the plate when Kansas City beat the Hilldale Club of Philadelphia in the first Negro World Series. He was also their playing manager for most of the 1940s, when the Monarchs were, once again, one of the premier teams in Black baseball. Although his hitting was modest, he was an outstanding defensive catcher, who excelled at throwing out base runners and handling pitchers. Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, and Bullet Joe Rogan were just a few of the great pitchers he caught during his long, 28-year career. He also ran the bases well and earned the reputation as a tough, hard-sliding player.
He was one of the finest managers in the Negro Leagues. Duncan left the Monarchs four different times to play with teams in Chicago, New York, and Pittsburgh, but always returned to Kansas City. He became the team's manager in 1942, leading them to two Negro World Series appearances. He was Jackie Robinson's manager in 1945. In 1948, Duncan began several years as an umpire in the Negro American League and also operated a tavern in Kansas City. He was married to blues singer Julia Lee and his son, Frank Duncan Jr., was also a baseball player.
When his son joined the Monarchs in 1941, it marked the first time in sports history that a father and son appeared professionally as active players on the same team. Frank Duncan died in 1973.
The Negro Baseball Leagues A Photographic History
By Phil Dixon with Patrick J. Hannigan
Copyright 1992, Jed Clauss and Joanna Paulsen
Ameron House Publishing