It’s a name known to baseball fans on the Crushers 2021 list. If you know that Topps produces baseball cards, you’re almost certain to be familiar with the father of Shawon Dunston Jr., the Crushers’ fast midfielder and leading hit.
Shawon Dunston carved out a long career in the major leagues and was a two-time all-star. He’s probably best known for being No. 1 in the 1983 MLB Draft – taken by the Chicago Cubs. A shortstop of trade, he had a gun for an arm and some surprising pop on his plate, which explains his 150 home runs. He played part of the 1998 season with Cleveland, but was switched between the season to San Francisco. Dunston Jr., was five years old at the time and was in Cleveland with his father when the trade went down.
“I came here and he was transferred to San Francisco. So he and I flew back to the Bay Area. He was traded in July, I’m pretty sure. I was only five, ”said Dunston Jr.
Dunston Jr., took to baseball, although the older Dunston wanted the younger one to focus on basketball.
“I loved baseball. I told my mom I was going to be a big league, ”said Dunston Jr.
Hanging around big league clubhouses and good genes provided a highly coveted teenage prospect in Dunston Jr. when he was a senior at Christian Valley High in San Jose, California. The Cubs ended up picking him up in the 11th round of the 2012 draft. He declined a scholarship to Vanderbilt to start his pro career. He played for the Cubs organization from 2012 to 2017 and never rose higher than class A before he was released.
The 28-year-old Dunston Jr. hoping to get another shot at a major league franchise. Staying healthy has been a problem. 6-foot-2, 195-pound Dunston Jr. has struggled with hoarding injuries and was banned early this season with the same injury.
“It’s part of baseball,” said Dunston Jr.
His excellent speed allows him to track balls that are hit in the gap. On the plate, the speed definitely helps his ability to get to the base. He knocked out a couple of bowls to reach the base during a recent series with Schaumburg. He has also stolen 15 tall bases.
“He’s a prototype leadoff hitter with speed who can steal bases,” Crushers boss Dan Rohn said of Dunston Jr.
Rohn was a teammate with the father of Dunston Jr. when the two were members of the Cubs organization. This relationship led to Dunston Jr. ended up in Avon as a member of the Crushers.
It’s just one of the many connections in the Crushers squad. Right-winger Crusher Isaac Benard is the son of former San Francisco Giant Marvin Benard, who was also a teammate of the older Dunston. Dunston Jr., and Benard were batboys with the Giants one year, Dunston Jr. said. “I’ve known Isaac since he was five or six,” said Dunston of Benard, one of the leading hitters in the Frontier League.
Dunston Jr. does not spend his summer driving buses and staying in Avon for fun. He still has strong dreams of playing in MLB.
“That’s still my goal,” Dunston said.
And he hopes a strong finish with the Crushers can help him reach that goal.
“I try to get warm and end the year in a good tone for myself. The team goal is to make the playoffs and go from there, and of course we will make it a championship year, “said Dunston.