Over the years I have traveled across America, attending hundreds of baseball games. During this time, I’ve had some pretty cool experiences with different baseball players. Sadly, Zach Duke isn’t one of the interesting story providers. I met him briefly once though, and have a few other stories that I remember that have to do with Zach.
1. Let’s begin with the time I first became aware of Zach Duke. I remember being very impressed with him during his rookie year in 2005. With an 8-2 record and 1.81 ERA, Duke stood out as one of the top rookies, and also a valuable commodity for the following year’s fantasy draft.
My friends and I set up a fantasy league where we would draft both veterans, and also a separate rookie class. For pitchers, a rookie for us was considered to be anyone with under 85 IP in their career. Duke had pitched 84.2 innings up to that point, and was taken 2nd in the rookie draft. He rewarded that drafter with an average year, but more importantly the initial excitement of owning Zach Duke. I can see why slavery was so popular, as owning Zach made that owner very happy.
2. In 2006 I went to PNC Park and attended some Pirates games. I considered buying a Zach Duke shirt because of his initial success, but I didn’t.
I hope I win some sort of literary award for that story.
3. Zach faded into obscurity for a few years for me until he was signed by the Nationals. When going to a game in September in New York, I had the thrill of getting Zach’s attention as he came into the dugout and getting his autograph.
It was the thrilling culmination to the long road I had taken in getting to know Zach over the years. I’m glad to see him back in Washington, where hopefully I can have many more experiences drafting him to fantasy teams, contemplating purchasing his shirt, and getting his autograph.