Leon James Carmel
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 3", Weight 202 lb.
- High School Benjamin Franklin High School (New York)
- Debut September 10, 1959
- Final Game April 30, 1965
- Born April 23, 1937 in New York, NY USA
- Died August 3, 2021 in New Orleans, LA USA
Duke Carmel, a big left-handed swinging first baseman/outfielder, was signed as an amateur free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals shortly before the 1955 season. The 18-year-old started his career with the Albany Cardinals in the Class D Georgia-Florida League, where he appeared in 24 games and hit .292. Duke was with six different minor league clubs before appearing in 10 games with the Cardinals in 1959. In 1960, he was at Sportsman's Park for a four-game appearance. He had a two-year stint in AAA ball and came back to St. Louis in 1963 where he appeared in his longest big league stint, 57 games, hitting only .227.
Duke was traded to the New York Mets on July 29, 1963 for Jacke Davis and cash. He finished the year with the Mets, playing in 47 games and hitting .235. He spent 1964 with the AAA Buffalo Bisons, where he hit .271 with 35 homers and made the All-Star team. On November 30th, the New York Yankees drafted him from the Mets in the 1964 Rule V Draft. Duke got into 6 games for the Yankees in 1965 with no results and ended his four-year major league career, having played in 124 games and hitting .211 (48-for-227). He spent the rest of his career in AAA, wrapping it up in 1967. In the minors, he played 1,366 games and hit .245 (1,050-for 4,285) with 198 home runs.
With his name, he might have been a natural for having a candy bar named after himself. But he probably would have had a better chance had he put up numbers in the majors like the .324 batting average, 29 homers and 121 RBI he had in 1957, when he led the Billings Mustangs to the Pioneer League pennant, or the 35 home runs he hit for Buffalo in 1964.
After baseball, Duke became a salesman for a liquor distributor and made his home in Coram, NY. There was some question about his date and place of death in 2021, as he was a resident of Waretown, NJ but died on the road, either in New Orleans, LA, as originally reported, or somewhere in the Carolinas. His son eventually confirmed the details of his passing.
- "Duke Carmel", in Bill Carle, ed.: Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, October-November 2021, pp. 1-2.