I’m not normally one to write tributes, but I thought I’d give it a go in this case…
I got my first exposure to minor league ball back in the early 1980’s when I was a teenager and went to a Reading Phillies game with friends who lived in the area. Growing up in the New York metropolitan area, any team which wasn’t at the top professional level of its sport – except for St. John’s University basketball – got ignored. Going to a AA baseball game was a novel concept for me. Much like seeing an up-and-coming band in a club, I loved the idea of seeing players who would someday fall into the category of “I saw them when…”
The first player I saw in the minors who would go on to have a notable Major League career was the Phillies’ Darren Daulton, who I saw in 1983.
“Dutch” would make his Major League debut late that September but due to knee issues and a struggling bat, wouldn’t make his mark until 1990. In the 1990’s he’d make 3 All-Star teams and twice get 100+ RBI while playing as a catcher. He also played a major part in getting the Phillies into the 1993 World Series.
In 1997, at what would prove to be the end of his career, he was traded to the Marlins in order to give him another shot at the postseason. He went out on top in the 1997 World Series by going 7 for 18 with 7 runs scored, a homer, 2 doubles and 2 RBI.
“Dutch” was never my favorite player – after all, I’m a lifetime Mets fan and it was hard enough rooting for a guy with the PHILLIES, for cryin’ out loud. But I always enjoyed watching him play, pulling one of his cards out of a pack, and keeping an eye out for his cards while I was at shows.
There have been a number of players I’ve seen play “before they was who they was”, but as with so many things, you never forget your first.
I don’t have any great personal stories to share about Darren Daulton (not like over at The Phillies Room), but I do have a bunch of cards I’d been intending to share… and this seems as good a time to put them out there.
Rest in peace, Dutch.