Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Remembering Philadelphia baseball icon Darren Daulton

Remembering Philadelphia baseball icon Darren Daulton
The back of Darren Daulton's baseball card doesn't come close to encapsulating the value he brought as a ballplayer. A sabermetrician's nightmare, he brought an intangible set of skills to the clubhouse innately making that club better.

Daulton's ability to lead grown men through the day-to-day grind of a grueling 180-day marathon is interwoven into Philadelphia baseball lure.

"In my 22 years of baseball, I have never been privileged enough to be around a man who led anywhere near as well as Dutch did," said former teammate and Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling.

"He was perfect in that role in every sense of the word. From Hollywood looks to never ever saying the wrong thing, he led us on and off the field. I am forever grateful to call him a friend and a teammate. God blessed me enough to allow me to be around men who changed my life and I’ll be forever thankful Dutch was one of those men. God Bless Dutch, now the fastball down and away.”

The Phillies icon passed away Sunday at the age of 55 after a four-year bout with brain cancer.

Daulton batted .245 in 1,109 Phillies games with 189 doubles, 134 home runs and 567 RBI over 14 seasons in Philadelphia. A three-time All-Star, he also played a significant role in leading the Phillies to the 1993 World Series.

"Catchers characteristically are the ‘coach on the field.’ Dutch was more than that," said former teammate and Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra. "He was our anchor and our leader; ensuring that our focus was always between the lines when we played. His stewardship and incredible toughness were the inspiration for that magical year in 1993 when we put it all together and made baseball fun again in Philly. It was a privilege to have played with him, and to have known him. I will miss him."

Daulton was drafted by the Phillies in the 25th round of the 1980 draft. He assumed full-time duty behind the plate in 1989 and along with colorful personalities starring Dykstra, John Kruk, and Jim Eisenreich played a pivotal role on arguably Philadelphia's most beloved single-season team with the 1993 Phillies.

"Darren starred for one of the most memorable Phillies' teams ever in 1993," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "With leadership and toughness, he personified the city that he represented for nearly his entire 14-year Major League career. In his final game, Darren batted cleanup for the Marlins' team that won the 1997 World Series championship."

Daulton was a force in the clubhouse. He never worried about earning respect because he commanded it. When he spoke people listened.

Phillies closer Mitch Williams recalled an example of Daulton's no nonsense approach on the field, particularly when the game was on the line.

"One of my favorite memories of Dutch was when, one of the many times, I walked the bases loaded in the ninth with a two run lead. He comes to the mound just drenched in sweat; it was 104 degrees on the turf that day at the Vet. I'm thinking he's fixing to yell in my face all the things that Kruky had been screaming at me from first base. He comes at me and says ‘Are you done ****ing around? It's hot out here and the beer is cold in the clubhouse - let’s go! Well, I got out of that trouble and we won the game. He always knew how to get the best out of me and all of his teammates." Williams said.

Despite his sheriff-like persona in the clubhouse, Daulton had a softer side away from the diamond and was generous to dozens of local charities. He was on the first board of the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness and organized various fundraisers and events. He also founded the Darren Daulton Foundation and spent the past few years championing for children's cancer research.

"You want perseverance, Darren Daulton. You want heart, Darren Daulton. You want dedication, Darren Daulton. You want commitment, Darren Daulton. You want a leader, Darren Daulton. You want courage, Darren Daulton. This is what Darren had to do to be a great baseball player. More importantly, this is what Darren took to battle his cancer. He lost his fight to this terrible disease but he will always be my teammate and he will never lose my respect, my friendship, my love for the way he played in the game of life," said former teammate and Phillies pitcher Danny Jackson.

Daulton was added to the Phillies Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park in 2010.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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