Dustin Krug, a former Chicago Cubs minor league pitcher, had a brief baseball career at Kodiak High School.
After spending his first three years of high school in California, Krug returned to The Rock — he moved off the island when he was in middle school — for his senior year.
He played in 12 games in 1995, but only made one home appearance on the mound.
That appearance produced one of the greatest individual performances in program history. Kodiak high’s baseball program started in 1992.
In late April, Kodiak hosted first-year Colony in the only series at Baranof Park that season.
Coach Harry Mickelson gave Krug, a 6-foot-5 hard-throwing right-hander, the start on the bump in the first game of the three-game slate.
Krug was dominant, striking out 16 in a six-inning 12-2 victory. All but two outs were recorded via strikeout.
“I thought our hitters might start out slow, but not that slow,” Colony coach Jamie Mayo told the Daily Mirror in 1995. “The thing that bothers me isn’t that we had 16 strikeouts, it’s that 11 of those strikeouts were on called third strike.”
Krug, who didn’t play baseball his junior year in California because the team was loaded with future major leaguers, had a rocket arm. His fastball clocked in the high 80s, while his curveball was tantalizingly slow.
Against Colony, he started every batter with two fastballs, then finished them off with a breaking ball.
“Probably half of those called third strikes the kids fell down,” said Krug Tuesday afternoon.
Krug recalled when he came back to Kodiak and started pitching to throwing to catcher Tim Kreta, who was one of his Little League catchers.
“The first time I really let it go, he didn’t even catch the ball. It hit him square in the face mask,” Krug said. “He ended up putting a kitchen sponge in his glove because it would hurt his hand when I threw the ball at him.”
Kodiak finished the 1995 season with a 6-6 record. The season included nine games in Washington state.
The summer after graduating, Krug played American Legion baseball for the Kenai Twins — Kodiak did not have a Legion team at the time.
Content with his baseball career being over, Krug — a multi-sport athlete — enrolled at Lane Community College in Oregon to play basketball.
One day after practice, he wandered to the baseball field to watch Lane’s baseball team scrimmage. The team was short on players, so Krug went from a spectator to a player. He pitched a scoreless inning, fanning all three batters. He topped out at 96 miles per hour and caught the attention of a scout who happened to be in attendance.
The scout helped Krug land a roster spot on the Lassen Community College team — one of the top junior college programs in California.
Krug, who transitioned to relief pitcher, only pitched one inning in his first season at Lasson. He returned to the island that summer frustrated and ready to end his baseball career. Instead of playing summer ball, he worked at Petro Express, which was managed by his mom.
Enter Kodiak coaching icon Joe Floyd, who led Kodiak’s American Legion team to a state title in 1985.
The Anchorage Bucs — a summer team for college players — needed a pitcher to fill in for an injured hurler. Floyd sent them Krug. He bought the plane fair and arranged housing.
Krug spent the summer overpowering NCAA Division I hitters, helping lead the Bucs to one of their best seasons in the Alaska Baseball League.
“If Joe Floyd would not have come and got me and sent me to the Bucs, I don’t know if it would have worked out,” he said.
Following a lights out season at Lassen, where he was named a junior college All-American, Krug was predicted to be selected early in the 1998 MLB amateur draft.
He slipped to the 11th round and was selected by the Chicago Cubs. He went professional instead of finishing his college career at Mississippi State University.
Krug climbed swiftly through the Cubs’ farm system and, in his fourth year, had reached Double AA — two stops away from the big leagues.
There were rumors that he was going to be a September call-up to the Cubs when his career derailed in a late-June game.
“One pitch, at home, and I felt my arm go,” he said. “It all went downhill from there.”
Doctors in the Cubs organization didn’t find anything wrong and, after not being able to rehabilitate the elbow, was released after 152 appearances.
After being released, he got a second opinion, which revealed a severed ulnar ligament.
“The bone that my ligament was attached to fragmented. I had about 50 bone spurs in my elbow. It just blew up,” Krug said.
The Minor League Players Association got the Cubs to pay for the surgery, but the damage was already done.
Krug’s career was over after logging 209.2 innings, a 12-17 record and 10 saves. He struck out 153 hitters and had a 3.73 earned run average.
“You just feel very expendable, and it really ruined my drive to play,” he said. “Through that whole thing, it made me who I am.”
Krug returned to Kodiak to coach the Bears in 2002. He compiled a 13-8 record in his two seasons. Even though he wasn’t on the coaching staff in 2004, he built the foundation for Kodiak’s undefeated run to the program’s only state title.
Krug now runs the Alaska division of Bering Industrial — a Seattle-based company that purchased Tundra Plumbing in Kodiak. He also does work for Premier Mechanical and Larry’s Heating and Plumbing.
“I was a basketball player and went to the baseball field at the right time,” he said.