Lucas Christopher Duda was born on February 1, 1986 in Fontana, California in San Bernardino County, approx. 50 miles outside of Los Angeles. Duda grew up an Anaheim Angels fan watching Wally Joyner & Darin Erstad play first base for the Halos.
Duda was named All State in California in his high school senior year, batting .493. He then attended the University of Southern California playing three seasons with the Trojans batting .275 overall. He led the team in HRs (7) during his final season batting .280 as he moved over to play left field. In 2007 the six foot three, left handed hitting, right hand throwing Duda was drafted in the seventh round (the 243rd pick overall) by the New York Mets.
Later in 2007 he was a member of the Brooklyn Cyclones who went all the way to the New York/Penn League finals losing to the Auburn Doubleday’s. Duda batted .299 with 4 HRs 20 doubles & 32 RBIs playing both left field & at first base throughout the season. The following year he was promoted to A ball St. Lucie where he batted .263 with 11 HRs while striking out 129 times. But his play was good enough to get him to AA Binghamton in 2009 where he hit .281 with 9 HRs 7 53 RBIs in 110 games, posting a .996 fielding % at first base.
He began 2010 back at Binghamton but after 45 games was promoted to AAA Buffalo.
He had a big year in Buffalo including setting a Bison’s record by homering in five straight games & winning their Player of the Year Award. He also won the 2010 Mets organization Sterling Award. Overall in 115 games in the minors in 2010, he hit .304 with 23 HRs with 40 doubles 87 RBIs &.398 on base percentage.
He earned the September call up to the Mets making his debut on September 1st, flying from Buffalo to Atlanta. In that game he made a great sliding catch in the outfield & went hitless in three at bats.
Two weeks later he hit his first career HR , also against Atlanta, off Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson whom he had played against in high school. Duda hit another HR in Florida & then two more on the final home stand at Citi Field against Milwaukee & Washington. He finished the year hitting safely in 11 of his last 16 games, batting .202 with 4 HRs 6 doubles 13 RBIs in 29 games played.
In 2011 he made the club out of Spring Training and got an appearance as a pinch hitter on Opening Day going 0-1. He struggled with just two hits in 21 at bats through May 4th and was sent down to AAA Buffalo to get things together. In 38 games with the Bisons he hit 10 HRs with 24 RBIs while batting .302 getting back to New York by June 2nd.
Upon his return he had an RBI single & RBI sac fly against the Pittsburgh Pirates helping Dillon Gee to his seventh straight win. He began to hit throughout the month, on June 25th at Arlington Texas in an interleague game with the Rangers he had four hits with three doubles & four RBIs in the Mets 14-5 win. Duda hit safely in nine of ten games in July, hitting a HR at Cincinnati on the 27th, while driving in runs in the next two games as well.
In August he hit six HRs while driving in twenty runs, collecting seven multi hit games raising his average above .290.
On August 8th he batted in the cleanup spot for the first time in his young career. Later he came to bat against Padres closer Heath Bell with the Mets down by one run with Justin Turner on third base & David Wright on second base. He singled home both runs for a dramatic walk off win, only the fourth of the year for the Mets.
From August 8th through the 29th he hit safely in 14 of 18 games, with 26 hits driving in 16 runs.
He began September driving in runs in six of his first seven games, including driving in the only run of a September 7th game in Florida helping R.A. Dickey to 1-0 win over Brad Hand. In twenty games on the month he drove in eleven runs finishing out the season batting .292 with 10 HRs 21 doubles 50 RBIs & a .370 on base % in 100 games played.
Duda began 2012 batting sixth & playing right field in the Opening Day win against the Atlanta Braves. The nest day he hit two solo HRs, leading the team to a 4-2 win. On April 24th he broke an 8th inning, 1-1 tie in Miami with an RBI base hit off Edward Mujica, which turned out to be the game winning hit. From April 24th to the 28th, he drove in eight runs, topped off with a four RBI game on April 28th where he hit his fourth HR.
On May 22nd his 8th inning RBI broke another tie game & led to a 3-1 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh. On May 30th he had another multi HR game, in a 10-6 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He began June with a big four RBI game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He bashed a three run HR & helped Johan Santana in the 8-0 shut out. Later in the week, he hit a two run HR off Chien-Ming Wang in Washington, leading to a 3-1 Mets win. At this early point in the season the Mets were surprising everyone by competing with the Nationals for the top spot in the East.
In July he fell into a deep slump & was batting .241, although he did have 12 HRs. He was sent down to AAA Buffalo where he batted .260, with three HRs & eight RBIs through August 25th. On August 29th he hit a two run HR off the Phillies Matt Harvey in the second inning, it turned out to be the winning runs in the Mets 3-2 win. In September Duda, hit just two HRs & finished the year batting .239. His highlight that month, was hitting a three run HR off the Braves Tim Hudson, driving in all three Mets runs in Jonathon Niese's 3-1 win.
Duda finished the year at .239 with 15 HRs 15 doubles 57 RBIs & a .329 on base %. In the outfield (105 games) he made five assists making four errors with a .977 fielding %.
In the off season he suffered a broken right wrist while moving furniture in Southern California, he had surgery in November & is expected back by Spring Training.
Trivia: Many opposing teams will have the public address announcer play Camptown Races when he comes to bat, due to his name.