Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/13/14

The third installment of this series — short unpublished interviews from three years ago, focusing on the 1980s — features Dave Duncan. A big-league catcher for 11 seasons, Duncan went on to become the pitching coach for the Oakland A’s from 1986 to 1995. He currently serves in that role for the St. Louis Cardinals.


Duncan, on what made the A’s pitching staffs of the late ‘80s so good: “Balance. It was a well-balanced staff with good starting pitching. We had Rick Honeycutt, a good left-handed reliever, and we had a great closer in Dennis Eckersely. In middle relief we had guys like Gene Nelson. It was just a really well-balanced pitching staff.

“At times it has been said about the Yankees that they play a six-inning game. There have been periods where their bullpen was strong enough that if they were leading after six, they were pretty much going to win the game. The pitching staff we had in ’88 and ’89 was a lot like that. We had depth and balance to where if we had the lead we had a good chance of winning.”

On Dave Stewart: “Stewart was good because he had good stuff, including a unique pitch in his split-finger. He was a fierce competitor. He never had a game where he wasn’t up for it — either mentally or physically. I think that all of your good pitchers are that way. Sometimes that separates really good pitchers from guys who could be really good, but never get there because they’re not able to do the things — mentally or physically — that allow them to not let starts get away from them.”

On catching Catfish Hunter and Jim Palmer: “What can you say about them? They were great pitchers. They personified exactly what I’m talking about when I say great physical ability and the right mental makeup, and mental approach, to pitching. And they were competitors — really good competitors.”

On Terry Steinbach and Carlton Fisk: “They were both very conscientious about taking each pitcher and knowing how to use what that pitcher was capable of doing effectively. They also didn’t have off days mentally. They were into the game when they played.”

On pitching in the 1980s: “I don’t see a lot of difference in how pitchers were used, although I think pitching changes. I think the 1980s was a period of time where a lot of guys were starting to throw split-fingers again. That was a very effective pitch and it was coming back — the split-finger, or forkball.”

On Billy Martin and pitcher abuse: “He was an exception. In the 1970s, it was common for guys to throw a lot more pitches, and pitch a lot more innings. But by the 1980s I think that everyone had become really aware of pitch counts and usage. They were pretty protective of pitchers. For your top-of-the-rotation guys, 230 or 240 innings was pretty common.”

On being a pitching coach: “I think that you never stop learning. I’ve learned a lot from pitchers. I’ve learned a lot from other pitching coaches. I’ve learned from bullpen coaches. And a lot of what you do is have a common-sense approach to solving problems. Not every pitcher has a different style, but most every pitcher has something that’s unique to him. A big part of being a pitching coach is recognizing what a pitcher does well, and honing it.”

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Nate Solder reveals he was diagnosed with testicular cancer

RG3 on Patriots: 'They operate like a high school football team'

AUDIO: Reds skipper Bryan Price drops 77 f-bombs in rant

Monty Williams: Warriors home crowd noise 'out of hand'

LT thinks Philip Rivers won’t play for Chargers in 2015


Report: Kevin Ollie 'seriously considered' for Thunder job

Floyd Mayweather: I'm a better fighter than Muhammad Ali

Video emerges of Warren Sapp talking about prostitute arrest

Chip Kelly in 2011: Tim Tebow is not our team's QB type

NBA commissioner: Sports gambling is 'good for business'

RG3 'wouldn't be bummed' if Redskins don't pick up option

The Lakers' free agency myth

The Milwaukee Brewers' untimely collapse

Cubs will reportedly call up prospect Addison Russell

Brewers' Scooter Gennett shares photo of nasty shower injury

WATCH: Fan at Pirates game hit by foul ball through netting

Hall of Famer Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz over ejection

WATCH: President Obama leads 'O-H-I-O' chant

Fred Hoiberg shares video of him walking after heart surgery

DeAndre Jordan geeks out at Batman Exhibit

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Marshall Henderson trolls Erin Andrews over Stoll arrest

Steve Ballmer turned Lakers locker room into owner's lounge

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The Lakers' free agency myth

Mayweather: I'm better than Ali

WATCH: Sapp talks prostitute arrest

Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz

Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 car wins at Long Beach

Pat Riley takes shot at LeBron?

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Stop the Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady debate

Alex Rodriguez: Heir to the Empire

The Tim Tebow lottery ticket

If Tony Parker's not right, it's going to go wrong for Spurs

So the Mets might be contenders

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.