Darren Daulton, the All-Star catcher who was the leader of the Philadelphia Phillies’ National League championship team in 1993, has died. He was 55.
Daulton had battled brain cancer since 2013. He had two tumors removed during brain surgery on July 1, 2013, but nine days later was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that also took the lives of his former teammate Tug McGraw and former coach John Vukovich.
“Darren was a true leader of men,” Phillies chairman emeritus Bill Giles said. “In addition to being an outstanding clubhouse leader, he was also a fighter. He battled through five knee operations to become an All-Star. I really enjoyed watching him for 14 years in uniform. Darren was a super human being. His teammates loved him, I loved him like he was one of my own.”
Daulton was also remembered Monday for what he accomplished beyond the baseball diamond.
Kevin Roberts of Resources for Human Development in Philadelphia said Daulton helped the organization however he could.
“We approached Dutch and really hoped he might get interested,” he said. “To our great surprise and amazing good fortune, he was an amazing advocate for us. He appeared regularly at our fundraisers and hosted Darren Daulton’s Home Runs for Homelessness.”
Roberts contacted Daulton in 2009 about doing some fundraising for One Step Away, the street newspaper geared toward the homeless community. As a former sports writer, Roberts knew of his advocacy work.
“We were amazingly fortunate that he loved the program and saw the value of it and really got involved in One Step Away in a very personal way. Believe me when I tell you, we owe Darren a debt we will never be able to repay,” he said.
The superstar would put people at ease during fundraisers.
“They would always want to meet Darren. You could see them kind of inching up, kind of not sure how to approach him, but they always wanted to meet him, and Darren would always hug them,” Roberts said. “He would always flash that thousand-watt smile and wrap his arms around them and say, ‘come here, baby!’ and give them a big hug.
“And, I mean, people would walk away from him in tears.”
After Daulton was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013, Roberts said the two lost touch, but he is grateful for the memories.
“He had such great life. I mean the energy just crackled off of him, no matter what. Every once in a while, we’d hear some potentially bad news, but he would always show up somewhere looking great,” Roberts said. “He fought a long and hard battle, and it’s a very, very sad day for a lot of people that Darren passed.”
Daulton played 14 1/2 of his 15 major league seasons with Philadelphia and 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.
The left-handed hitting Daulton batted .245 with 137 homers and 588 RBIs in 1,161 games. He went to three All-Star games and led the NL with 109 RBIs in 1992.
The long-haired Daulton, nicknamed “Dutch,” was beloved by Phillies fans and respected by teammates. He policed a wild clubhouse in ’93 that included Lenny Dykstra, John Kruk, Dave Hollins, Pete Incaviglia, Mitch Williams and Curt Schilling.
“From the day that we drafted him until today, he constantly earned our respect and admiration as both a player and person,” said Phillies chairman David Montgomery. “Darren was the face of our franchise in the early 1990’s.”
Daulton is survived by his parents, Carol and Dave; brother, Dave Jr.; wife, Amanda; and his four children: Zachary, Summer, Savannah and Darren Jr.