Saturday, December 20, 2014

Philography: Darren Daulton

1993 iconic Macho Row captain Darren 'Dutch' Daulton
The Philography series continues with the final weekly installment before moving to a bi-monthly (every two weeks) schedule during the off-season. This week we take a look at the career of 1993 ‘Macho Row’ team Captain, fan favorite Darren ‘Dutch’ Daulton.
Darren Daulton was born on January 3rd, 1962 and raised in the same town of Arkansas City, Kansas. He attended his hometown Arkansas City High School, was a star athlete, and became the Philadelphia Phillies 25th round selection in the 1980 Draft as an 18-year old.
Over the next few years, Daulton rose through the Phillies system a level at a time, first to Rookie league Helena, then Low-A Spartanburg, and then to High-A Peninsula. At each stop, his playing time and his productivity increased.
By 1983 at age 21, Daulton had reached the AA level Reading Phillies, where he raised his game another level. He had career highs in nearly every category, and showed
real power at the catching position with 19 homers and 83 rbi. He even stole 28 bases, showing his athleticism.
Daulton Reading
Based on his performance and advancement, Daulton received his first cup of coffee in the Big Leagues as the Phillies were clinching the N.L. East Division crown.
In his first game, on September 25th of 1983, Daulton came on in the 10th inning as the catcher and finished out a victory over the Cardinals in Saint Louis. It was the club’s 9th straight win, a streak that had moved them from a tie for 1st place out to a 4 game lead with just 6 to play.
A week later, in the final game of the regular season, and having participated already in the Division-clinching celebration, Daulton got his first starting opportunity. On October 1st, 1983 he went 1-3 with a walk and a run scored in a 5-3 win over the 2nd place Pirates.
Daulton batted 6th that day in a lineup that only included one full-time regular in 1st baseman Pete Rose. Also in the lineup that day were future lineup mainstays Juan Samuel and Von Hayes. In the bottom of the 8th against Pirates reliever Cecilio Guante, Daulton singled to left. He would score three batters later on a Jeff Stone triple.
As the Phillies made a run to the World Series for the 2nd time in 4 years that fall, Daulton would not take part. Postseason and Fall Classic play was something he would have to wait another decade for, but he had made it to the Majors at last.
In 1984, Daulton didn’t get another opportunity with the Phillies. With a healthy All-Star caliber catcher in Ozzie Virgil Jr, a capable backup in Bo Diaz, and another hot young prospect catcher in Mike LaValliere, Daulton was forced to spend the entire season at AAA Portland. He hit .298, but his overall production decreased.
He started the 1985 season back in Portland, but would get the call-up to Philly just a few weeks into the season. His first of many knee injuries knocked him out from mid-May until early August, but he did come back to have his first big game.
The date was August 17th, 1985 and the Phils were taking on the Cubs at Wrigley Field on one of those typical Windy City days. Daulton crushed a pair of homers, scored 4 runs and drove in 3, going 4-5 in a 10-4 Phillies victory.
Daulton would spend the 1987 and 1988 seasons as the backup catcher to big free agent signee Lance Parrish, who had been a 6x All-Star, 4x Silver Slugger, and 3x Gold Glover with Detroit in the first half of the 80’s. 
With franchise icon Mike Schmidt aging, the club hoped Parrish would be the piece to push him and young stars Juan Samuel and Von Hayes over the top again, signing him to a $1 million contract when that still meant something. It never worked out.
In ’87 the club climbed within as close as 6 1/2 out in mid-August, but was never higher than 3rd place. In ’88, they quickly sank to the bottom, finishing in last place. It would all lead to Parrish being traded after that 1988 season, and Schmidt retiring early in ’89.
It was the 1989 season, at age 27 and with pieces of 5 Big League seasons on his resume, that Darren Daulton got his first chance to start as the Phillies regular catcher. He played in 131 games that year, hitting just .201 for another last place team. But he was finally healthy and getting a real opportunity to play.
The Phils further turned the page once Schmidt left, trading away Samuel for young centerfielder Lenny Dykstra and dealing Chris James for a sweet-swinging outfielder named John Kruk. In 1990, a new decade dawned with Daulton entering his prime, and with a new set of teammates.
The 1990 Phillies moved up to 4th place, with Daulton playing a career-high 143 games, hitting .268 with 12 homers. His new mates, Dykstra and Kruk, hit .325 and .291 respectively, with Lenny stealing 33 bases and scoring 106 runs. The team also traded for former Braves star Dale Murphy in August.
For the Phillies, things seemed to be finally changing for the better. Just as importantly, Daulton was beginning to assert himself more in the locker room as team leader.
But 1991 would prove a challenge on many fronts. The trouble began in the early morning hours of May 6th. Daulton and Dykstra left a bachelor party for Kruk, with The Dude driving his 1991 Mercedes 500 SL. In clear, dry road conditions along a winding country road, the car skidded off at high speeds, slamming into two trees.
The two key Phillies were nearly killed. The car was wrecked. Dykstra suffered multiple fractures: broken ribs, a broken collarbone,  a broken cheekbone. Daulton suffered a fractured eye socket and scratched cornea.
It was a devastating blow for the pair, but also for the team. The Phils had recovered from a 4-11 start that had cost manager Nick Leyva his job to get within 3 games of the .500 mark under new manager Jim Fregosi. They were about to leave on a 9-game west coast road trip.
The team fought hard, going 5-4 on the trip and 7-4 overall to get back to the .500 mark. But as May ended and into early June, they went into a spin, losing 8 of 10 to fall out of the race.
Daulton tried to return in late May, but was quickly out of the lineup again for a couple of weeks. Dykstra returned after the All-Star break. But with the club out of the race, both players were shut down early.
The 1992 season was an emotional mixed bag for Daulton and the Phils. For the catcher, it was a career year. He was fully healthy, playing in a new career-high of 145 games. And he became an All-Star for the first time.
That year of ’92, the man who had become nicknamed ‘Dutch’ hit 27 homers, had 109 rbi, and hit .270 with a .385 on-base percentage. The performance earned him the NL Silver Slugger at catcher.
But the team had collapsed to last place again. The reasons weren’t hard to pinpoint. He had the great year, Kruk hit .323, new 3rd baseman Dave Hollins slammed 27 homers and had 93 rbi.
Dykstra fought injuries, and Fregosi spent the season trying to find the right mixture in his lineup. It just never jelled. Still, there were signs that positive things were beginning to happen. For one, a new starting pitcher, 25-year old Curt Schilling, had come in trade and was outstanding.
As 1993 began, no one outside the organization gave the Phillies much of a chance. Most picked them for another last place finish. But inside the team, hopes were high. The club had signed a pair of free agent outfielders, Pete Incaviglia and Milt Thompson. Everyone began the year healthy. But even they couldn’t have foreseen what was in store.
Macho Row
The Phillies came out of the chute hot, winning their first 3 games and 9 of the first 10. They established themselves in first place in the NL East with that hot streak, and they never would give up that lead, not for a single day.
The 1993 Phillies built an 11 1/2 game lead in early June, and would hold off the talented Montreal Expos to win by 5 games. They won 97 games that summer, many of them with thrilling comebacks or finishes. It was the most fun summer of baseball that I ever personally remember watching in my entire life.
The team had a unique personality that endeared them to the fan base. They played hard and dirty. The hitters worked opposing pitchers mercilessly. Many of the team sported shaggy or mullet-style haircuts. The pitching staff did their part as well, hurling league highs in complete games, innings pitched, and strikeouts.
Daulton led the way as the anointed team Captain in his section of the locker room that had become known as ‘Macho Row’, and on the field he led by example. That summer he hit 24 homers, had 105 rbi, scored a career-high 90 runs and had a career-best .392 on-base percentage in a career-most 147 games and 637 plate appearances.
For the performance, Daulton was rewarded with his 2nd straight NL All-Star appearance. He was joined in the game by 3 teammates: Kruk, Hollins, and pitcher Terry Mulholland. Dykstra was a season-long catalyst, coming up with huge hits at clutch moments, making great plays in center. He hit 19 homers, had 37 steals, scored 143 runs, hit .305 and came in 2nd in NL MVP voting to Barry Bonds.
The Phillies clinched the NL East with a win against their longtime in-state divisional rivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, in a 10-7 slugfest win on September 28th. They were again given little chance in the NLCS against a 104-win Braves team, but disposed of Atlanta in 6 hard-fought games, moving the franchise into the World Series for the first time in a decade.
In that 1993 NLCS, Daulton began the series with four mostly quiet games, going 1-12 with 5 walks as the two teams split. With the series tied at 2-2, the pivotal 5th game moved into the top of the 9th with the Phils leading 2-0 behind a tremendous outing from Curt Schilling.
Daulton stepped in against Braves closer Greg McMichael to leadoff that 9th. The captain drove a 1-1 pitch over the wall in deep rightcenter to extend the Phillies lead out to 3-0.
The Phils would need that extra run, as in the bottom of the 9th Atlanta rallied for 3 runs to tie it. But in the 10th, Lenny Dykstra crushed a 1-out homer to put them back in front. This time veteran reliever Larry Andersen held the lead, and the Phillies led 3 games to 2 headed back to Veteran’s Stadium.
Now needed one win to move into the World Series, Daulton again came up big in Game 6. With the game scoreless in the bottom of the 3rd, Daulton stepped in with the bases loaded and two outs against future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. Dutch lined a double, scoring two runs.
Those runs against the Braves ace were a huge confidence booster, and the Phils continued to pull away, taking a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the 9th. There, with two outs, Mitch Williams struck out Bill Pecota to seal the victory. As the ‘Wild Thing’ leaped in the air, Daulton rushed into his arms, and the entire team joined in an incredible celebration on the field at The Vet.
In the World Series, the Phils were again given little chance against a star-studded Toronto Blue Jays team that was the defending world champions.
Daulton would hit .217 in a 5-23 effort. He did crack a homerun in Game 4 at The Vet, but the Phillies bullpen blew a big lead late in the game to suffer a heart-breaking 15-14 defeat that left them down 3-1 in the series.
Though the Phils continued to fight hard, they would ultimately fall short, losing in dramatic fashion when Joe Carter struck for his now-famous walkoff ,World Series-winning homerun off Williams in Game 6. 
WE WERE PARTY CENTRAL, BUT WE HAD THE 25 PLAYERS AND THE COACHING STAFF THAT WAS PERFECT” ~ DARREN DAULTON
For that ‘Macho Row’ group it would be the pinnacle, and at least for his long career in a Phillies uniform, it would be the same for Daulton. He would, however, finally reach the baseball summit. He would just have to leave Philadelphia for it to happen.
In 1994, the work stoppage that crippled all of baseball struck, and it’s just as well for the defending NL champs. The Phillies just didn’t recapture the ’93 magic that year. At the time of the stoppage, they were 54-61, buried in 4th place. Daulton was having another strong year, hitting .300 with 15 homers. But the pitching staff was riddled with injuries. It was truly a lost season.
When the game resumed for the 1995 season, the Phillies made a run. They took the division lead early, and led the NL East right up to the 4th of July, at one point holding a late-June lead of 4 1/2 games. But they were overtaken by the Braves, who were now in their division. Atlanta pulled away, and though the Phils finished tied for 2nd place, it was a distant 21 1/2 game back.
The 1996 Phillies simply lacked chemistry. Daulton had a lost season due to knee injuries. The team tried to extend its chance at contending with the addition of players like Gregg Jefferies, Todd Zeile, and Benito Santiago. But the pitching wasn’t good enough, and the club finished in last place.
1997 would prove to be the career swan song for Darren Daulton, and it would also prove highly emotional, with his leaving the only organization that he had ever known. But it would also see that gut-wrenching change become an opportunity, one he would make the absolute most of to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
On July 21st, 1997, Darren Daulton was traded by the Phillies to the Florida Marlins. After 18 years in the organization and parts of 14 seasons, he was finally moving on. The Phils were buried in last place, 32 1/2 games out of first. Meanwhile the upstart Marlins were in 2nd place, just 6 1/2 out.
The Fish would end that season at 92-70 in 2nd place. But in the new Wildcard era, they were in the postseason. Under manager Jim Leyland, that Florida team had been infused with high-priced veteran talent such as hitters Moises Alou and Bobby Bonilla, and pitchers Al Leiter, Alex Fernandez, and Kevin Brown.
These players joined Gary Sheffield, Edgar Renteria, Livan Hernandez and Robb Nen to make up a formidable club. This was the team that Daulton had joined, a far cry from what the Philly situation had deteriorated into. In Florida, Daulton served as a backup to 1st baseman Jeff Conine. In 52 games he produced 21 rbi and brought his veteran leadership to the team.
He wasn’t alone on that team, as his former ‘Macho Row’ Phillies NL champs teammate Jim Eisenreich was there, having signed with the Marlins as a free agent the previous off-season. Though the two were no longer starters, they were valuable left-handed options for Leyland, and an invaluable locker room presence.
In the NLCS it was the division champion Braves who were again the obstacle. With the series tied at 2-2, Hernandez pitched a 3-hit gem in a game that would become notorious for the wide strike zone given him by home plate umpire Eric Gregg, a Philly native.
The Marlins roped around future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine for a big 7-4 win in the decisive 6th game, moving into the World Series. Daulton appeared in 3 NLCS games, and was a key as the starting 1st baseman in Game 3, the final NLCS start and game of his career.
With the series tied 1-1 and the Marlins trailing in the game 2-1, Daulton drove a game-tying 6th inning double to right off John Smoltz. He would later score on a bases-clearing double by Charles Johnson that put the Fish up 5-2, which would hold as the final score and a 2-1 series lead.
In the World Series the Marlins would face a formidable and powerful Cleveland Indians club that included future Phillies slugger Jim Thome in his prime, as well as young stars like Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, and Kenny Lofton. The two teams battled through the first 6 games tied at 3-3, moving to a 7th and deciding game.
Daulton appeared in all 7 games of that 1997 World Series, getting the start at 1st base in Games 3, 4 & 7 and at DH in Game 5. In Game 1, Daulton singled in the 4th inning with the game tied 1-1, and scored on a 3-run homer by Moises Alou in what would be a 7-4 Marlins win to open the series.
The Indians tied it up in Game 2, and then Game 3 proved a wild one. The Marlins outscored the Tribe 7-4 in the 9th inning alone en route to a 14-11 win in Cleveland. Daulton went 2-4 with 3 runs and an rbi, driving a leadoff homerun to deep rightcenter in the 4th that gave the Fish a 3-2 lead.
In the 6th, he led off with a walk, and later scored when his old Phils mate Eisenreich drove a 2-run homer that put Florida ahead 7-3. Finally, in the top of the 9th with the scored knotted at 7-7, Daulton singled to center, with Bonilla coming around to score the go-ahead run on an error by Lofton.
All of this action led to the teams entering Game 7 having battled furiously to a 3-3 tie. In that 7th and decisive game, Daulton started at 1st base. He went 0-3 as the two clubs again battled to the end, but the Fish entered the bottom of the 9th trailing 2-1 as the Indians sent in their closer, future Phillie Jose Mesa.
Alou led off the bottom of the 9th with a single, and moved into scoring position with a one-out single by Johnson. Craig Counsell then delivered a game-tying sac fly, knotting it at 2-2 and sending the game to extra-innings.
The teams continued the tense battle into the bottom of the 11th still at 2-2. Daulton was out of the game now, having been replaced by Leyland in using Conine as a pinch-hitter vs a lefty in the bottom of the 8th.
The Marlins loaded the bases on a ground single by Bonilla, an error, and a walk all around a pair of outs. With two outs and the bases loaded, young shortstop Renteria stepped to the plate. Just four years earlier, Daulton and Eisenreich had lost the World Series on a walkoff. They would now win one in that fashion. Renteria delivered a soft line-drive single to center, and the Fish were world champions.
Darren Daulton joined his old teammate Jim Eisnreich in the celebration on the field and in the postgame locker room. He received numerous public accolades from Leyland and his teammates as a tremendous late-season pickup and a vital leader on the team.
It was the only fitting way for Darren Daulton to go out. Having suffered through a variety of knee surgeries and other injuries, having suffered the emotional trauma of leaving the Phillies organization. And now having incredibly seen it all pay off with his playing a key role on a World Series champion, Darren Daulton decided to retire.
This would normally be where an article in the Philography series would leave off, since we’ve mostly cared about the playing or professional career of those involved. But Daulton has been such a beloved, iconic player for fans that it’s difficult to leave out his colorful, often crazy off-field personal life.
The handsome, charismatic ballplayer that everyone has seen on the outside has been through multiple marriages. He has been through arrests for DUI and domestic assault. He has lost and regained relationships with his children. He has battled addictions. His spiritual beliefs are a hodge-podge of ever-changing and wide-ranging generalities.
Through it all, Darren Daulton has survived. And now he is literally trying to survive. He was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, brain cancer, almost two years ago. Radiation and chemotherapy followed. Daulton lost the mane of hair on his head that was somewhat a signature of his extended youth.
Dutch has fought back, and returned to the public eye over the last year. Back in May at an appearance at a Lancaster Barnstormers minor league game, he stated that he was doing well. And then the conversation came around, as it almost always does, to that beloved 1993 Phillies team.
Daulton Wedding
We were party central, but we had the 25 players and the coaching staff that was perfect...If you were part of the ’93 team, they love you. It’s like you were part of their life, part of their family. That’s cool,” Daulton told Lancaster Online writer Burt Wilson, referring to Phillies fans affection for that team.
All isn’t apparently happy with those 1993 brothers. At a fall 2013 appearance at the Granite Run Mall,Daulton reportedly had to step in to keep ex-mates Dykstra and Williams from coming to blows, the latest episode in what has been a long-running feud between the pair running all the way back to that lost World Series.
But in Daulton’s personal life, despite the cancer battle, he finally seems to be finding happiness and peace. Just months after the cancer diagnosis, Dutch married his longtime girlfriend, former pro golfer Amanda Dick.
He makes appearances to benefit his charitable endeavor, the Darren Daulton Foundation. During the season, he can be heard on radio with “Talking Baseball with Dutch“, usually preceding Phillies games. He can be frequently found around Phillies-related events, and through Darren Daulton Enterprises he makes appearances at autograph and memorabilia shows, and has even become an advertising pitchman for Yuengling.
Darren Daulton was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2010, the first player from that 1993 team so honored. He has since been joined by teammates Kruk (2011) and Schilling (2013) in that ultimate team honor. On Phillies all-time lists he is 16th in Homers (134), 26th in RBI (567), 32nd in Doubles (189), 44th in Hits (858), and 39th in Runs (489). 

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