Omaha (Neb.) 52’s Patriots Post 374 has earned its first trip to The American Legion World Series. And one of its biggest fans is following the team closely.
Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Brian Duensing, who played for Post 374 from 2001-2002 and then became a sponsor of the program in 2013, has been supporting the team via his Twitter page and then made it a point to connect with the team after it had earned its trip to Shelby, N.C.
"There’s doing some things that no one in the history of (the program) has ever done," Duensing said. "I’m really proud of what they’ve done. The American Legion does a great job with its baseball program, so helping out is really the least that we can do."
Duensing, 3-0 with one save this season and 40-36 over seven seasons with the Twins, has provided financial support to his former team over the past three seasons. And after Post 374 won its regional, he met up with the team at its hotel, treated it to a pizza party and bought every player a set of Beats by Dre headphones for the plane trip to Shelby.
Longtime Post 374 Manager Greg Geary said the admiration Duensing has shown for the current Post 374 players is mutual. “(The players are) obviously very proud of what he’s done, and he’s given back so much to our program: support, financially and just him being around,” Geary said. “It’s been really great.”
The players have enjoyed the relationship with Duensing. “He’s just great to hang out with,” Post 374 pitcher Matt Perry said. “It’s great to have a Major League guy who’s so down to earth like that, helps us out and can be there for us. We love him.”
Perry has also enjoyed the Twitter love Duensing has shown for the team. After the Patriots advanced to the regional final, Duensing tweeted out a “That away boys”; since then, he’s retweeted other Tweets about the team advancing.
“I know that all of Omaha has our back, but to know that another 20,000 people are seeing what we’re doing and having his support over social media – that’s a big thing,” Perry said.
Perry said it’s easy to look at what Duensing has accomplished in Major League Baseball and use it as motivation. “It’s something we think about every day, whether we’re on the practice field, in the weight room or during a game,” Perry said. “That’s the ultimate dream.”
Geary, who coached Duensing during Legion ball, said the Twins pitcher is the perfect role model for his current players. “There’s not a better example than Brian,” he said. “He’s your classic first kid to practice, last kid to leave. He carried the equipment. He never was bigger than anybody else.
“He’s still that same kind of guy today. He’s stayed so humble and so grounded.”
And Duensing has stayed appreciative of the experience Legion Baseball gave him.
"Obviously a lot of friends came out of Legion Baseball, and it was good competition," he said. "And it was nice being able to play baseball and stay off the streets, having something better to do. And my coaches were great. I wouldn’t be where I am today with American Legion Baseball."