Darren Daulton is textbook for how a professional athlete should handle Philadelphia and how everyone should approach life.
We were reminded just how special “Dutch” was following the far too soon death of the 55-year-old Phillies icon.
I only met Dutch once. It was still producing radio at the time, working a WIP Morning Show remote from the Acme in Somers Point a couple of years ago. Daulton was a guest on the show for about an hour. I’ll always remember when he walked over to the broadcast table for the first time, he looked me directly in the eye with a giant smile and asked how I was doing, even though I never spoke to him before. Most high profile figures rarely give that much time to a producer. Dutch was different.
My story is one of thousands.
I have few memories of watching Daulton play live as I turned five late in the 1993 season and only remember seeing the catcher at Veterans Stadium in his day as a converted outfielder. What I do remember though is Dan Baker announcing the Phils starting lineup for that team in the late ’90s and hearing golf claps for all but Daulton. The captain of the beloved 1993 team received roars from the more than half empty crowd at The Vet. The decibel level of these cheers far surpassed what Ryan Howard received in his final days in red pinstripes. That’s how popular Dutch was and he drew that respect because of the way he played, led and represented Philadelphia.
I learned more about Daulton through the Phillies tremendous video yearbook for the 1993 season, “Whatever It Takes, Dude.” The tape spoke for itself, as it was more than evident that he anchored that clubhouse, was tough and wasn’t afraid to get dirty. What’s not to love about a player like that, who also produced on the field during that magical ’93 season, after struggling for most of his career prior to the 1992 campaign.
You can argue that the 1993 Phillies are the most popular team in this city’s history, and that’s without winning a World Series. If a squad who didn’t capture the ultimate goal is as revered as the ’93 Phils are, it means they’re more popular than the 2008 Phillies, 1983 76ers, 1980 Phillies and the mid-70s Flyers. Daulton was the reason behind their success and attitude.
It was so fitting that Daulton ended his playing career by leading a team he played two to three months with to a World Series, closing his career with the Florida Marlins clinching Game 7 against the Cleveland Indians, while hitting .389 in The Fall Classic with a .389 on base percentage.
After his career Daulton experienced rough moments with some off field issues and comments about metaphysics. The latter made people question what in the world he was talking about, but as always, Dutch pulled through, later being inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame while acting like a more than solid citizen.
His battle with brain cancer was remarkable, fighting for four years when the outlook didn’t seem positive when first diagnosed. And he was doing all of this while doing outstanding charity work.
It goes to show Dutch was a leader during and after his career. He set an example for all of us. Every Philadelphia athlete should research how Daulton played, and make sure they never leave a field, court or rink without getting their jersey dirty, diving after a loose ball or chasing down a puck. They should never let injuries get the best of them, because Dutch played through a lot, as a catcher, which wasn’t easy at all.
All of us non athletes should try to live everyday to the fullest, because that’s what Dutch did. That day at the Acme in Somers Point, he always sported a smile and approached life with a glass more than half full approach.
Hard to believe a guy from Arkansas City, Kansas could influence a city and sports culture like he demonstrated in many of his 14 years in red pinstripes.
Thank you, Dutch. You did whatever it took, and then some.