On August 6, 2017, Philadelphia Phillies legend Darren Daulton passed away after a four-year battle with brain cancer at the age of 55.
While there were recent reports that he wasn’t doing well, it was unexpected that he went so quick. We had at least hoped he had one more Alumni Weekend left in him. Sadly, now Alumni Weekend shall serve as a memorial.
Dutch had a storied career with the Phillies, spanning 14 seasons where he was a three-time All-star, led the National League in RBIs in 1992, and captained the most lovable team in franchise history. He was a true leader on and off the field and led by example. In an age where players will ask for a day off if they break a nail, it was impossible to enter the clubhouse, see Daulton with ice packs on both knees and ask for rest.
Also, he had the most glorious mullet sports has ever seen.
Anyone who is old enough to have seen the 1993 team remembers that special run. After Daulton led the National League in RBIs, the team knew he had a chance to win a batting title in 1993 if they could just get on in front of him. Through selfless motivation, the baseball Gods would bestow upon them the lead in the National League East, which they would never relinquish.
That season was magical. The Phillies didn’t possess the best numbers on paper, nor did they possess the traditional image associated with baseball, but Dutch held that team together.
He knew how to get the best out of everyone, whether they needed to be motivated by the thought of cold beer in the clubhouse to get off the field, or they needed a stern talking to about why certain antics on the field were not acceptable. He did all of this without complaining about the immense physical pain he was in following knee surgery.
It was Daulton’s work ethic that made us love him, and it’s why so many of us grew up idolizing him. The Phillies were still wearing maroon when I went to my first game, and Daulton was the first Phillie I was taught to respect. Thanks in large part to Daulton, and the rest of the 1993 Phillies, I learned from a very early age that baseball could be electrifying.
Furthermore, that feeling helped me get through the dark ages of Phillies’ baseball. That feeling the ’93 Phillies gave us, nestled their place into the hearts of everyone who watched their storybook run.
After his playing career was over, Dutch bridged his knowledge and passion for the game into a successful broadcasting career with Comcast Sportsnet and was introduced to a new generation.
His intensity remained the same, but he was calmer in demeanor when delivering criticism than legend had told. His enthusiasm radiated every time he sat behind the desk, regardless of the outcome of the game. However, it was during a broadcast that Daulton realized something was wrong and sought medical attention.
Dutch was diagnosed with glioblastoma and had surgery to remove two tumors in 2013. Prognosis after his surgery was good, and he far outlived the average patient due to how aggressively brain tumors grow. Following his diagnosis, he opened the Darren Daulton Foundation, that provides medical relief for those fighting brain tumors and brain cancer. Dutch’s love and care for other people never wavered, despite what he was going through, much like the days of ice packs on his knees.
His legacy will forever live on for not only connecting a generation with baseball, but for his philanthropy to those also fighting similar ailments.
Thanks for everything, Dutch. I’m choosing to not finish this one in my own words because Mitch Williams said it better than I ever could:
“…Fregosi and Vuk will be waiting for you at the gates of heaven, with a cold beer ready, and talk of how the Phils are doing. Vuk will want to know who to put the freeze on. Harry and Whitey will have the call, ‘Look at who is coming to the gate, the Captain, #10, Darren “Dutch” Daulton!’ There will be a standing ovation and Harry will lead all of our dearly departed Phillies family in his signature rendition of ‘High Hopes!’ Love you Dutch-Godspeed, and don’t give my locker to anybody else or I’m gonna be pissed!”