Decanie "Duke" Sanders, a longtime employee and on-field master of ceremonies of the Carolina Mudcats, died on Thursday, the minor league team announced on Friday. He was 62.
Sanders began his career with the Mudcats in their inaugural 1991 season in Zebulon as the public address announcer and worked for the team in various positions during 20 of its first 27 seasons before retiring in 2017 due to illness.
It was as the team's on-field emcee at Five County Stadium that Sanders had his biggest impact. Sanders directed fans through the team's promotions and between-inning contests and events.
"The 'Dukester' excelled like no other as the on-field voice of Mudcats baseball," the Mudcats said in a news release. "The role allowed him to display his infectious enthusiasm for the game, for the team and for the show at Five County Stadium. Mudcats' fans will certainly long remember his style in leading the 'Seventh Inning Stretch.' "
Sanders had also been the team's director of sales and director of promotions during his tenure.
The Columbia, S.C. , native studied music education at South Carolina. He was a very popular singer among area church communities. He also did PA for Rolesville High School football games.
Sanders is survived by his wife, Linda.