There are some who say he was born of the Storm Giants who live in the clouds, and others who claim he was raised by bears in the Adirondacks, still more believe that he could fell a tree with one swing of his mighty club but Met fans know that he’s their best hope to survive this troubling 2012 season.
When I look at Lucas Duda, I can’t help but think of the frontier legends of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Maybe it’s that Keith Hernandez is fond of calling Duda a giant, but it’s definitely there when I watch him. From his humble origins as an early-mid-round pick to his rise as a power lefty all the way to his emergence as a legitimate MLB hitter, he gives off a legend that’s larger than life. What follows is the All-American folk tale, Mets style.
Duda was born in Fontana, California on February 3, 1986. He attended Arlington High School in Riverside, California. His high school coaches knew they had something special in the 6’4 gawky youth with hope in his eyes and hunger in his heart. He grew into the hulking man he did eating nothing but rhubarb and a special blend of protein shakes mixed with the tears of a unicorn.
Duda then enrolled in the University of Southern California, playing for the USC Trojans baseball team from 2005—2007. All seemed well for him until fate struck: A series of wildfires that began burning across Southern California. At least 1,500 homes were destroyed and over 500,000 acres (2,000 km², or about 770 mi²) of land burned from Santa Barbara County to the U.S.–Mexico border. Nine people died as a direct result of the fires; 85 others were injured, including at least 61 firefighters. The raging fire was visible from space.
Legend holds that Lucas personally saved an entire school of orphans, a convent full of nuns and the 2007 Swedish Bikini team by blowing the fire back and diverting it into a lake. While reports of this feat are sketchy at best, it seems that someone was paying attention as Duda was drafted by the New York Mets in the seventh round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft, as the 243rd overall selection.
It wasn’t easy for Omar Minaya to draft a fella like Lucas in the 7th round, but somehow he was convinced by that same magical sparkle that inspires Met fans to this day. On that day, the legend that already was… became a New York Met legend that would soon be.
Duda began the 2010 season with the Double-A Binghamton Mets and was promoted to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons on June 14. While in Buffalo, Duda homered in five consecutive games, tying a Bisons record and earning a supporting actor nomination for being the inspiration for George Clooney’s entire acting career. In 70 games for Buffalo, Duda hit 17 home runs, 2 triples, 23 doubles, and had 53 runs batted in, while compiling a .314 batting average and winning several underground fighting tournaments run by the Yakuza crime family. At the end of the season, the Bisons named him their Most Valuable Player and presented him with a gold plated AK-47.
Former Mets manager Jerry Manuel watched Duda during batting practice when he was first called up to the Majors and noted that Duda reminded him of Abraham Lincoln mixed with Bruce Lee and Shrek.
In 2012 Duda will be handed the starting right field job and be expected to shoulder the burden of, not only his great awesomeness, but also the success of the New York Mets. What will he do with the opportunity? We can only imagine what great things a man like Lucas Duda might… but I’m hoping he breaks every record in baseball and cures cancer.