Yankees: Looking Back at 7 of New York’s Cult Heroes

6 of 8
Players of the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees square off after a hard slide by first baseman Shelley Duncan #17 (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images). /

Yankees fans will remember Duncan was always ready to stand up for his teammates

Yankees: OF Shelley Duncan

At a time when the Yankees were loaded with high-paid stars and displayed the persona of “business first,” slugger Shelley Duncan injected life into New York’s clubhouse.

To say Duncan played with his emotions on his sleeve is an understatement — he was involved in multiple brawls, including one during spring training  (see photo above). He never truly panned out as a legitimate option for the Yankees, but his personality shined on a team filled with highly-paid stars.

As Johnny Damon was attempting to loosen up the Yankees’ uptight roster in those days (Check out Bryan Hoch’s Mission 27 for more on how Damon, Nick Swisher and A.J. Burnett fared), Duncan was always turned up to 10 with a fun attitude, an enjoyable change of pace for fans who have witnessed a group of mercenaries take the field during the first decade of the millennium.

In three seasons in New York, Duncan hit .219/.290/.411, and while it was only a handful of games in each season, Duncan is certainly fondly remembered more so for his ability to stick up for his teammates in mid-season brawls and the intensity with which he played (remember those hulking elbow smashes?!).

On the field, Duncan was not necessarily a great option, but he did show promise in his rookie season. He posted a .883 OPS with seven homers in 34 games. Sadly, he never was able to embody that level of play again.