Catching up with Darren Daultonby Eric Schwartz
Earlier this week I got the opportunity to see former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton while attending a baseball tournament down in Bridgeton, New Jersey. As a guest of the Bridgeton Invitation Daulton signed autographs for fans and took the time to speak about various topics includig the current Phillies, the 1993 Phillies and his life after baseball. I had an opportunity to listen to Daulton and put together this report, which can also be read here on nj.com.
BRIDGETON — The Bridgeton Invitational saw one of its biggest crowds in years Monday night.
That’s the type of presence former Philadelphia Phillies catcher Darren Daulton still has.
Fans flocked to get autographs from a player who was at the heart of the 1993 National League champion team and spent the better part of 14 seasons behind the plate for the Phillies. Daulton, who was put on the Phillies Wall of Fame in Citizens Bank Park on Friday was surprised by all of the fans who came out to see him.
“I looks like you guys have about the same turnout as we did (Friday),” joked Daulton.
For Daulton, who is the second high-profile former Phillies player to visit the Invitational Greg Luzinski was the other Monday was not only his first time at the Invitational, but his first time in Bridgeton.
“Out of all my worldly travels I can’t remember ever coming through Bridgeton,” said Daulton. “It reminds me a lot of the town I grew up in in Kansas. I was joking with some of the guys earlier that I used to be a groundskeeper.”
Daulton was a career .245 hitter with 137 homers and 588 RBIs. His best seasons came in 1992 and 1993 when he hit a combined 51 home runs and drove in 214.
The 1993 Philadelphia squad was know for its crazy cast of characters headlined by Daulton, John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra and Mitch Williams. The team surprised everyone by going from perennial cellar dwellers to National League champions. Daulton said the reason the team was so embraced both in and away from Philadelphia was because of the blend of characters the team possessed.
“I like to say that we covered all the food groups,” said Daulton. “We had big buys, small guys, fat guys, skinny guys, smokers, drinkers, guys that were Jewish and guys that were Catholic and I think that’s why so many people around the country liked the team. You could pick any type of personality and we had someone that personified it.”
Though he spent almost his entire career with the Phillies, it wasn’t until Daulton was traded in 1997 that he finally won a World Series ring. As a member of the Florida Marlins, Daulton ended his career by helping the Fish defeat the Cleveland Indians in seven games.
“I started, obviously, with the Phillies organization and was able to play for 14 years,” said Daulton. “I was very fortunate to get traded down the stretch in ’97 to the Marlins. At that time I thought I was going to go to an American League club to be a DH. Jeff Conine was having a so-so year for the Marlins so they wanted me to come down there offensively for my bat and it just happened to work out. You couldn’t have written a better script.”
Daulton currently resides in Clearwater, Fla., but still keeps a watchful eye on the Phillies and appears periodically on Phillies Postgame Live. He admitted he wasn’t always as tuned in to his former ball club.
“For 10 years from 7-8 p.m. it was ‘Seinfeld,’” said Daulton. “Now when 7:05 comes around I want the remote because I want to watch these guys.”
Daulton, who took part in the Phillies’ Alumni Golf Tournament earlier Monday, said he will be working with Comcast SportsNet through the summer and will be featured on pre- and post-game shows should the Phillies return to the postseason. He raved about the team’s play this season despite all of its obstacles.
“I tried to think back as far as I have been in the game and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team go through what they have gone through this year,” said Daulton. “It’s just amazing. If you would have told me before the season started that they would be at this juncture (of the season) with all of their stars that have been on the DL, I would say there would be no chance that they would be in the playoffs. It’s really remarkable.”