When Dave Duncan elected to step away from his duties as St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach following their miraculous postseason run to the World Series championship in 2011, it wasn't to join his longtime colleague and friend Tony La Russa in retirement.
As was always the cause for Duncan, he was simply putting his family first.
In August of that same year, his wife, Jeanine Duncan — who's also the mother of former major leaguer Chris Duncan and current minor leaguer Shelley Duncan — was diagnosed with a Stage IV glioblastoma.
Without hesitation, Duncan took a leave of absence to be by her side as she went through the initial tests and treatments. He did return for the postseason with her blessing. In fact, she was in attendance for their Game 7 triumph over the Texas Rangers in the World Series. But it was his decision to step down for good following the season so he could be with his wife every step of the way throughout her courageous battle.
Sadly, Jeanine Duncan lost that nearly two-year long battle on Thursday night when she died at all too young age of 64.
On Friday, the Cardinals, Duncan's employer over the final 15 years of his remarkable coaching career, acknowledged her death and honored her life with the following statement:
"The entire Cardinals organization was saddened upon hearing of the recent passing of Jeanine Duncan. Jeanine fought her illness with courage and dignity. She will always be remembered as a devout wife and mother who supported her baseball family with passion and encouragement.
"We wish to extend our thoughts and prayers to the entire Duncan family and their many friends."
Jeanine was a baseball wife and a baseball mom through and through. Unfortunately, though, in October 2012, while dealing with her own struggles she was forced to endure a medical crisis for one of her children when 32-year-old Chris Duncan, who spent five seasons with the Cardinals from 2005-09, was also diagnosed with glioblastoma.
Chris underwent brain surgery soon after his diagnosis, and we're happy to say returned to work as a sports talk radio personality in St. Louis earlier this year.