ST. LOUIS —
Most knew former Cardinals slugger Chris Duncan for his skill with a bat or his wit behind the microphone, but he was also a family man and faithful friend.
Duncan passed away Friday after a long battle with cancer.
Former teammate Brad Thompson was sitting on the Fox Sports Midwest set Friday night, when he got the call.
"He gave me the news and it was awful," recalls Thompson.
It was news that he knew, deep down, would one day come. But it's the kind you never want to believe.
"You never want to hear it, you never want to prepare for it," said Thompson. "We knew the battle Chris was going through. We knew the health had deteriorated quite a bit, but you figured if anyone was going to do it, it was going to be Dunc."
Duncan and Thompson joined the St. Louis Cardinals the same year -- 2005. They were closer than two birds on a bat. Brad says he loved watching his friend succeed.
"I hadn’t seen anybody play the game as hard as he played it. To me, that was a great example of what it’s all about," he said.
That success included Duncan's 22 home runs his rookie season, helping win a World Series in 2006 or something as simple as landing a joke in the dugout.
"If you heard laughter in the clubhouse, if you heard people cutting up, you know Dunc was right in the middle of it," Thompson said.
They both left the Redbirds around the same time and traded their cleats for a microphone.
He said Chris's unique style was in a league of his own.
"But the way he looked at stuff and the way he talked about it, just brought stuff to life. I think that’s something you just don’t get. That's natural. That’s real, that was Dunc. And you can’t duplicate stuff like that," Thompson said.
Talking to Thompson, you can tell that Duncan's seat at the table will remain empty no matter who fills it.
"Dunc should be here. He should be breaking down Cardinals games and he should be in the booth. He had such a great career ahead of him. I’m just going to miss being around him," says Thompson.
Most of all, he'll miss being able to pick up the phone to call Dunc.
"I’d call him up and be like, how are you doing? And he’d answer quickly, 'how are you doing?' Always wanting to know about you and wanting to care about you, and that’s who he was."
Part of Duncan's remarkable style on air was his own dictionary of phrases he created.
Thompson told 5 On Your Side that the night he heard that Chris had passed, he went home after the Cardinals broadcast and popped open a can of "man soda."
Fans of Dunc will recall, that was his playful phrase for beer.