Former Major League Baseball All-Star catcher Darren Daulton has died, according to a statement from the Philadelphia Phillies issued on Sunday. He was 55.
According to a report from ESPN, Daulton’s cause of death was glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, as his passing came a little more than four years after he was first diagnosed in 2013. Daulton’s glioblastoma went into remission in 2015, only for the cancer to return, and the Phillies legend’s condition to take a turn for the worse.
Daulton’s worsening condition was confirmed late last month in a statement from the Philadelphia Phillies, according to That Ball’s Outta Here. The statement did not go into much detail but stressed that Darren was “struggling” in his battle with glioblastoma and that friends had been asking for prayers on social media. This included Twitter messages from former teammates such as Curt Schilling and Lenny Dykstra, who both starred alongside Daulton on several 1990s Phillies teams.
In its piece looking back on Darren Daulton’s untimely death, ESPN recalled that “Dutch,” as he was often known to teammates and friends, was the leader of the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies, a team that had beaten the odds to win the National League pennant, only for them to lose in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays in that year’s World Series.
Baseball America’s review of the book Macho Row: The 1993 Phillies and Baseball’s Unwritten Code summed up the team, which had finished with a lowly 70-92 record the year prior, as a “beer-swilling, uncouth, and disgusting band of vagabonds.” Yet this team somehow excelled through hard work on the field, fierce loyalty among teammates, and a focus on getting on base and scoring runs, something that inspired future Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane of “Moneyball” fame.
“The Phillies were a collection of fiends and scoundrels, which is duly noted in the book, set against the backdrop of a worst-to-first team full of castoffs that even their own mothers would not have assembled in most cases.”
Somewhat overlooked amid the tributes following Darren Daulton’s death was his penchant for eccentric behavior and comments, which was chronicled in a 2007 report from Deadspin. This report quoted a statement Daulton made to Philly Comcast Sports, where he described himself as a time traveler with the ability to teleport.
“I started experiencing these different realms, these different planes of existence… I know exactly what I’m capable of doing…. People talk about speaking with lizards and stuff. You can communicate with anyone, with nature, that’s all that happened there. To me, that’s not a big deal now. I like to astral travel, teleport, travel through time.”
— Matt O'Donnell (@matt_odonnell) August 7, 2017
— Kevin Cooney (@KevinCooney) August 7, 2017
Despite his documented eccentric tendencies off the field, Darren Daulton was mainly remembered following his death as a great team leader, and as a three-time All-Star who stood out on defense, but could also produce on offense, as evidenced by his two consecutive seasons (1992 and 1993) with more than 100 RBIs. ESPN noted that that made him one of only nine catchers to pull off the feat in MLB history.
“Darren was a true leader of men,” read a statement from Phillies chairman emeritus Bill Giles.
“The Phillies would not have gone to the 1993 World Series without his leadership. 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.”
Although Darren Daulton failed to win the World Series with the 1993 Phillies, he had made up for that four years later as he joined the Florida (now Miami) Marlins midway through the 1997 season. As CSN Philly recalled, Daulton, who had spent his entire major league career in Philadelphia beforehand, was the missing piece on a talented Marlins team that needed an “intangible” that could turn them from a good team into a great team. The Marlins would go on to finish 92-70 in the regular season, and win the World Series in seven games against the Cleveland Indians, allowing Daulton to end his career on a high note.
Daulton retired in 1997 with 137 home runs, 588 RBIs, and a 0.245 batting average over a 14-season career, according to Baseball Reference. He was picked in the 25th round of the 1980 MLB draft, out of Arkansas City HS in Arkansas, and made his major league debut for the Philadelphia Phillies three years later.
According to ESPN, Darren Daulton is survived by his parents, Carol and Dave, brother Dave Jr., wife Amanda, and four children, Zachary, Summer, Savannah, and Darren Jr.
[Featured Image by Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images]