PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Darren Daulton was the teammate everyone respected and the player all Philadelphia Phillies fans adored.
A day after Daulton died following a four-year battle with brain cancer, the city and franchise mourned the loss of perhaps the greatest leader to wear those red pinstripes.
“Darren Daulton the ballplayer was and always will be synonymous with great leadership and winning. Darren Daulton the person was and always will be synonymous with caring and compassion,” former teammate and longtime radio analyst Larry Anderson said Monday.
Daulton, nicknamed “Dutch” since his childhood, was a three-time All-Star catcher during 14½ seasons with the Phillies. He was the cleanup hitter for the improbable 1993 NL championship team, which lost to Toronto in six games in the World Series after finishing last the previous season.
Daulton controlled a clubhouse that included wild characters such as Lenny Dykstra, Mitch Williams, John Kruk, Pete Incaviglia and others. He was the man along a stretch of lockers called “Macho Row.”
“I played with several tough dudes in my career, but Dutch was the toughest,” Dykstra said. “Catchers characteristically are the ‘coach on the field.’ Dutch was more than that. 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.”
Despite being plagued by injuries and slowed by several knee operations, the left-handed hitting Daulton batted .245 with 137 homers and 588 RBIs in 1,161 games. He led the NL with 109 RBIs in 1992.
Daulton finished his career with the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins, batting .389 (7 for 18) with two doubles and one homer in a seven-game series against Cleveland.
“Darren was one of the toughest players to ever play the game,” former Marlins manager Jim Leyland said.
Daulton was diagnosed with glioblastoma in July 2013. It’s an aggressive form of brain cancer that also took the lives of his former teammate Tug McGraw and former coach John Vukovich. Daulton, who died Sunday, was 55.
“I believe he was truly loved on a different level than most,” Williams said. “He was the captain of our chaos, the most respected player among his peers and those great players who came before him.”
He was our rock, our leader in that clubhouse of guys in 1993.”
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