Spencer Duggan grew up in Arcata rooting for the Crabs. Now, Crabs fans are rooting for him, and he's coming through bigtime.
By Tina Naderi
Imagine you grow up watching a certain baseball team, wishing that one day you could play for them, too. Well, that was what Spencer Duggan wanted as a child, and now the 5’8 in-fielder has become a fan favorite to watch at the Arcata Ballpark.
Duggan is a true blue Humboldt local. Born and raised in the Sunny Brae neighborhood of Arcata, Duggan has positive memories of his childhood.
“I loved [being raised] in the small town atmosphere ... lots of friendly faces, you can walk from one side of town to the other without worrying about something happening to you,” said Duggan.
Growing up, Duggan began playing all sorts of sports. Basketball, baseball — he even started playing golf at the age of nine. But it was baseball that captured the attention of the young Humboldt native.
“I skipped tee-ball and went straight into baseball when I was five. [That] was 17 years ago,” Duggan said.
Although baseball came naturally to him, Duggan made sure not to rest easy and began to work hard to develop his skills as player. Part of learning the game of baseball for Duggan was he attended Crabs baseball games in the summer time. Duggan even participated in Crabs baseball camp in his youth. It’s with his past history of growing up watching Crabs baseball that Duggan finds his current position with the team slightly odd.
“I was a little kid getting my glove signed by all the Crabs players when I was 6, 7 years old. [Now] I see little kids come up and ask for my autograph, and ... it’s funny to me,” Duggan said.
Although this is Duggan’s first year playing for the Crabs, it’s not his first time playing Humboldt baseball. In years previous, Duggan played for College of the Redwoods baseball team as well as the Humboldt Steelheads, a farm team of sorts for the Humboldt Crabs that was put on hiatus for the 2012 season. Duggan says the biggest difference between the two teams isn’t necessarily in the dugout, but in the stands.
“It’s kind of cool having 800 to 1,000 Crabs fans [at the games] versus 50 to 100 coming to Steelhead games,” Duggan added.
Current Crabs Assistant Coach Jeff Giacomini worked with Duggan and the rest of the Steelheads during the 2010 summer season. Giacomini considers Duggan a great team player and is happy someone with leadership skills as strong as Duggan’s is on the team.
“He’s got a good approach, he just knows how to play the game ... he has a lot of maturity,” Giacomini said.
Manager Matt Nutter is thrilled to have Duggan a part of the 2012 season, joking around that he’s watched “Spenny” grow up, he’s happy to have him on the team.
“He’s brings a spark to the team ... [He’s] had a lot of big hits in a number of games for us. Hopefully he’ll keep doing that,” said Nutter.
And those hits have certainly helped the Crabs in some sticky situations. So far this season, Duggan holds a .439 BA and 12 RBI — both the highest on the team.
On his days off from playing ball or practicing, Duggan finds himself in the Humboldt outdoors.
“[I also] like to pan for gold,” said Duggan. “Some people say it messes with your swing as a baseball player, but it’s never really affected me.”
When he’s not in Humboldt playing ball, or spending time with his family, Duggan attends and plays ball at Bellevue University in Nebraska.
“It’s different from [Humboldt],” said Duggan. “A lot less hilly.”
Q: How did you initially get involved with the Crabs?
A: During junior college I had two pretty good years and I got recruited on locally to play and it was a blast. I played in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and after that season I got to talking with the coaches to see if it was a possibility that I could join on as a coach and get my foot in the door because I want to take the path of becoming a coach.
Q: How has the transition from player to coach been?
A: The transition is a lot harder than a lot of people think. As a coach you get to sit back and watch and take in everything and as a player you might be focused on a thing or two but as a coach you have to focus on everybody.
Q: What role do you play as a coach, are you in charge of any particular aspect?
A: I am a utility coach. I work a little with the hitters and a little with the catchers. I just talk and get to know the players and tell them what I see and tell them things they could work on to improve.
Q: When your not here coaching what can we find you doing?
A: I’m actually in graduate school in New Mexico but usually when I’m not coaching here I’m either working out or doing work.
Q: What is your favorite part of Humboldt Crabs Baseball?
A: The fans! Every time you step in the ballpark here it’s a blast. I don’t see how you could come here and not have fun.
Q: How long do you plan on being a part of the Crabs organization?
A: Well in high school I played 1st base and outfield but once I got to college I started focusing just on pitching and I’ve been doing that for the last 4 years.
Q: You’re a left-handed pitcher do you think that is an advantage or disadvantage?
A: Advantage because growing up people see right-handed pitchers all the time. Left-handed pitchers usually have a lot more movement so I think it’s definitely more affective I feel to be left-handed over right.
Q: Which do you prefer pitching to right or left-handed batters?
A: Left because they are easier to get out having that advantage being left handed against a left-handed batter.
Q: Being a pitcher is a high-pressure position so how do you stay calm when you’re out on the mound?
A: Honestly try and not focus as much as I can because getting too into the game you let other things affect you. Also not thinking of every pitch while I’m pitching. Just worry about one at a time instead of letting little things affect me.
Q: What goes through your mind after you walk a batter?
A: Okay well that’s over, moving on to the next one. I’m going to work on one pitch at a time and focus on that.
Q: How did you first hear about the Crabs?
A: From my teammates at the University of Hawaii. They told me all about their summer here and how awesome it was and once I found out I got the opportunity to come play here I was all over it.
Q: How does playing for the Crabs compare to the Midwest where you played summer baseball before?
A: I love the baseball field here for sure. The crowd is so awesome here and they have the Crabs Grass Band that’s something completely different than anyone else will ever have and it’s great.
Q: What’s your major and what are your plans for after college?
A: Political science and minoring in history. After I graduate from my undergrad I’m going to go to law school and be a real estate lawyer or a sports agent.
A: I enjoy doing it. I like coming out and competing everyday and I like the people I get to meet in my journeys.
Q: Which player or person most inspired you to be the best baseball player you could be?
A: My cousin Tony Miranda. He played at Fullerton (where I play) and was part of the National Championship team in the 90’s. I hang out with him a lot.
Q: What has been the highlight of your baseball career so far?
A: Going through a complete season this year, I was able to go without injury.
Q: Many baseball players have been given a nickname do you have one?
A: The team calls me Darkness both here and in Fullerton.
Q: Who is your favorite professional baseball team?
Q: After summer is over what is next for you?
A: Back to school.
Q: What are your plans for life after college?
A: I want to play baseball hopefully, but if I don’t I want to enter the probation field, criminal law.
Q: How have you adjusted to life in Humboldt coming from the LA area?
A: It’s a lot different. The weather in fact, I kind of hate it because it’s always cold. The community is pretty good, everybody is pretty nice. It’s real peaceful up here no city life.
Q: Many are saying that you are the fan favorite of this season, why do you think that is?
A: I don’t know. I just enjoy playing so maybe that shows and they appreciate that.
Q: What is the story behind the white baseball glove?
A: Actually one of my buddies had me get it during season and I asked my coach at Fullerton if I could use it, he said it was ok, but we were kind of struggling so I didn’t want to bring it out and have it be bad luck.
Q: You have a black glove too so how did you decide between the two?
A: I don’t think white goes with all white jerseys so I try to color coordinate.
Q: Complete this sentence: When I’m not playing baseball, you would find me _______.
Q: This is your first year with the Crabs, how do you like it so far?
A: It’s awesome! The venue, all the fans, the community, they are all into it. All the fans we get, it can’t get any better than that.
Q: You played summer baseball last year in Arizona, how does the Crabs compare with summer ball in Arizona?
A: Night and day for sure. Just how much the team and the community support us and everything that they give us and also being able to live right next to the field. It was miserable in Arizona with the heat.
Q: What position do you play and what do you like best infield or outfield?
A: I play first and outfield and as long as I’m in the lineup it doesn’t really bother me.
Q: How did you first become familiar with the Crabs?
A: My college coach told me about it and said it would be a great experience for me to be able to play for the Crabs and after going on the web site and watching the video on there I was like, “Definitely.”
Q: What’s is your major and what do you want to do after you graduate, is baseball in your future?
A: My major is applied sciences and mathematics and I want to be a pediatrician actually. Obviously if the draft was a possibility I’d definitely go for it but it’s good to have a back up plan.
Q: What is your favorite way to celebrate a win?
A: Just being around all the guys after a win. Everyone’s happy no mater how we won or how well everyone did a win’s a win. It’s fun being around the guys after a win.
Q: Personal goals for the year?
A: I want to get better. I always want to get better. Offense defense both. Being around these guys everyone here on the team is really good so I think they will help me step my game up because I’ll have to play to there level.
Each week during the season, we will be running a question-and-answer session with a different Crabs player. This week, we sit down with Eureka native Brad Morgan, in his third year with the team.
By Ray Hamill
Q - Who has been the biggest influence on you as a player?
A - Probably my dad. Ever since I was younger he always worked with me as a player. He really pushed me and without him I wouldn't be here today.
Q - Do you have any superstitions?
A - Not really. Maybe the line deal - you don't step on the line - and just respecting the game. Just play hard and work hard.
Q - Who's your favorite baseball team?
A - The Dodgers.
Q - Who is your favorite baseball player?
A - I don't really have a favorite player. (Andre) Ethier's pretty good. He plays hard.
Q - If you were an animal, what would you be?
A - Who's the king of the jungle? A lion, yeah, I'd be a ferocious lion.
Q - How is playing for the Crabs different from playing in college?
A - When you're playing for the Crabs, the players are mostly better than on any other team you've been on in your life. There are a lot of players here that get drafted and if you break it down player for player, they're all probbaly the best I've ever been around.
Q - What is your favorite food?
A - I'm a big fan of chicken. All sorts. And milk and cookies too.
Q - What is your favorie movie?
A - I love "Dazed and Confused." I thought it was hilarious.
Q - What has been your most memorable moment as a Crabs player?
A - That's a tough one. There's been multiple. Probably last year playing against the Steelheads in front of a big home crowd.