The list of Phillies greats who have been lost recently got longer Sunday night with the passing of Darren “Dutch” Daulton. The 55-year old was credited for his leadership both on and off the field during his 14 seasons in a Phillies uniform. Daulton waged a battle with cancer for the past four years and had recently taken a turn for the worse in the past week.
Daulton, who was the ultimate team leader for the 1993 Phillies, and was also credited with leading the Florida Marlins to their World Series Championship in 1997.
Marlins manager Jim Leyland credited Daulton with being exactly what his team needed in that ’97 season.
“Jim Leyland told me they don’t win the World Series if it wasn’t for Dutch,” John Kruk said in relaying the story. “He told me when Dutch stepped in that locker room everyone on that team looked at him and said, ‘There’s our leader.'”
Daulton’s contribution hit much closer to home for Kruk, who was very close to Daulton throughout their time with the Phillies.
“He held us together, without question. We had some guys on that team who could go off the deep end, myself included. You need that calming voice to tell you what you want to hear sometimes and then get on your ass other times,” remembered Kruk. “When Dutch said something – and it wasn’t every day – it needed to be done and he got it done.”
The Phillies drafted Daulton in the 25th round of the 1980 draft and he made his major league debut with the team on September 25, 1983. As a 21-year old, Daulton played in just two games that September and didn’t return to the majors until late in April of 1985 after spending the entire 2004 season at Triple-A Portland, playing in just 80 games because of a knee injury.
His MLB career started slowly and he hit as low as .196 in 89 games with the Phillies in 1991. The following season, he played in 145 games and led the league with 109 RBI and made his first of three all-star games. He also finished sixth in MVP balloting in 1992. In the ’93 season, Daulton played in a career-high 147 games, hitting 24 home runs and driving in 105 runs with a .257 average.
In 1997, the Phillies were a sub-.500 team and Daulton was a 35-year old player limited to first base and some time in the outfield because of bad knees. The Marlins were in search of their first World Series Championship when they acquired Daulton – as much for his leadership as his remaining play on the field – for outfielder Billy McMillon on July 21, 1997. Dutch played 52 games with the Marlins over the last half of that season and hit .262 while providing the exact spark that the team needed for the postseason. That ’97 season would be Daulton’s last in the majors.
Daulton finished his career with 137 home runs, 588 RBI and a .245 batting average. The Phillies added him to their Wall of Fame in 2010.