Former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton dies at 55

Darren Daulton, the All-Star catcher who was the leader of the Philadelphia Phillies' NL 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 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."

This is the Phillies' full statement:

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Click here for MLB’s Darren Daulton page.

Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. issued this statement regarding the deaths of Daulton and also Don Baylor, who was 68:

Other reaction from those who knew and worked with Daulton, coming in Monday morning.

 “Darren was the teammate and leader I learned more from, respected more and was honored to call a friend.  He wasn’t afraid to let you know when you messed up but was also the first to praise you for you effort and dedication to your craft.  I love Darren as a brother and will miss him dearly.  God bless the Daulton family.”  -Ruben Amaro Jr. 

“Darren Daulton the ballplayer was and ALWAYS WILL BE synonymous with great leadership and winning. Darren Daulton the person was and ALWAYS WILL BE synonymous with caring and compassion. He never turned his back on anyone, whether they were hurting or in need and was always there even if he merely sensed that someone was on the struggle bus.  He may not be in the Baseball Hall of Famer, but he is a Hall of Famer as a person, as most anyone who has known him will attest to. He always greeted you with a big smile, a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek and I will forever miss that greeting...until we meet again!!!”  -Larry Andersen          

“Dutch was one of the most respected players to ever put on a Philly uniform. He was the heart and soul of that 93 team.  He was a leader in the clubhouse and on the field, but more importantly, he was my friend.   My heart goes out to Amanda, his kids and his family.”  -Larry Bowa

He was like a brother to me, he meant the world to me. He was a leader to me and to the Phillies organization, not only in the good times but also during the bad times. I know he had been battling this for a long time, and I am not going to remember him like I saw him the last time in Phantasy Camp. I will remember him like the brother he was to me and everyone, the great leader who also was a great husband and father, but most importantly who he was as a human being and how he carried himself. He meant the world to me and always will. I will miss him very dearly.”  -Mariano Duncan

“The Philadelphia Phillies family and the world of baseball have lost a warrior.  I played with several tough dudes in my career, but Dutch was the toughest.  He was the unquestionable leader of our magical 1993 Phillies team that went from last to first, thereby energizing the city of Philadelphia.  His unrelenting toughness had a dramatic effect on the mindset with which we all played.  Much of Dutch's career was spent in Philadelphia, whereby the team often finished at or near the bottom of the standings.  However, that all changed in 1993! We had a feeling in Spring Training, that something was different that year, and that feeling proved to be right.  Our motley crew of characters, given virtually no chance by the prognosticators, swaggered our way to the World Series.  Dutch was always the rock the guy who steadied the ship.  Jim Fregosi entrusted him to keep us focused and together.  Dutch did not disappoint.  It's ironic that I am now sharing my memories during this sad time.  The reality is that Dutch couldn't stand me, a common feeling amongst many of those who were not my teammates, early in my career. Nonetheless, when I was traded to the Phillies, we became brothers almost immediately.  While he had been with the Phillies for a few years, he became a starter in 1989.  Within a year, John Kruk, Dave Hollins and I had all joined the team.  Catchers characteristically are the ‘coach on the field.’  Dutch was more than that.  He was our anchor and our leader; ensuring that our focus was always between the lines when we played.  His stewardship and incredible toughness were the inspiration for that magical year in 1993, when we put it all together, and made baseball fun again in Philly.  It was a privilege to have played with him, and to have known him.  I will miss him. –Lenny Dykstra

“I first knew Darren as just another teammate, but shortly after, I could see he was much more than that.  He was the leader of our team, both on and off the field.  He was like a brother or a best friend, and that continued long after our playing days were over.  I was privileged to have been his teammate on two World Series teams – the 1993 Phillies and the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins.  I’m not sure we would have won either without him.”  -Jim Eisenreich

“Darren was a true leader of men.  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.  Darren was a super human being.  His teammates loved him, I loved him like he was one of my own.  In fact, he called me ‘Uncle Bill.’”  -Bill Giles

“Darren was one of the strongest men and leaders I’ve ever known.  I’m glad I was able to call him a friend.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Darren.”   -Tommy Greene

“You want perseverance, Darren Daulton. You want heart, Darren Daulton. You want dedication, Darren Daulton. You want commitment, Darren Daulton. You want a leader, Darren Daulton. You want courage, Darren Daulton. This is what Darren had to do to be a great baseball player. More importantly this is what Darren took to battle his cancer. He lost his fight to this terrible disease but he will always be my teammate and he will never lose my respect, my friendship, my love for the way he played in the game of life.” -Danny Jackson

The first time I saw Darren Daulton we are playing against each other in Triple A and I thought he was just another ordinary player.  When I was traded to the Phillies I realized that he was so much more than that. The culture of the Phillies at that time had to change and Darren led the charge for us becoming a championship caliber team, and while doing so he not only became a leader and a friend we became brothers. I will always be grateful for him putting us on his back and carrying us to the World Series. He taught us so much along the way that I will always be indebted to him for that. I love you brother!”  -John Kruk

“Darren was one of the toughest players to every play the game.”  -Jim Leyland

"All of us at the Phillies are saddened to hear of Darren's passing. From the day that we drafted him until today, he constantly earned our respect and admiration as both a player and person.  Darren was the face of our franchise in the early 1990's. Jim Fregosi asked so much of him as catcher, clean-up hitter and team leader. He responded to all three challenges. One of my toughest decisions as team president was to approve his trade to the Marlins in July of 1997.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Amanda, his parents, his brother and his four children. Dutch was truly ‘one of a kind’ and we will dearly miss him." -David Montgomery

“We have lost a good one.  I have a heavy, heavy heart today.  Dutch not only was a great person, a great friend, and also the greatest clubhouse leader I’ve ever played with.  He was also like a father figure to me during my career.  I will miss him dearly.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Amanda and the entire family.”  -Mickey Morandini

“Darren and I started in the minor leagues together.  We worked our way up together to the big leagues so he was like a brother to me.  He was the best teammate I ever had.”   -Juan Samuel

“Heart and soul.  Those are the two words that define Darren Daulton as a human being and as a member of the Phillies 1993 team.  In my 22 years of baseball, I have never been privileged enough to be around a man who led anywhere near as well as Dutch did.  He was perfect in that role in every sense of the word.  From Hollywood looks to never EVER saying the wrong thing, he led us on and off the field.  I am forever grateful to call him a friend and a teammate.  God blessed me enough to allow me to be around men who changed my life and I’ll be forever thankful Dutch was one of those men.  God Bless Dutch, now the fastball down and away.”   -Curt Schilling

“The best thing that happened to me and my first day the Vet Stadium in 1993 was the fact that my locker was next to Darren Daulton’s locker.  Not only was Darren a great Major League Baseball player but he was the epitome of what an MLB veteran was supposed to be.  He always had time and patience when I had questions, taught me how to deal with the press, management, coaches, clubhouse and travelling staff and fans.  I always respected Darren for the fact that he never treated me like the rookie that I was in ’93, but rather, like every other teammate on that championship team.  Darren was never loud and never screamed, but when he did have something to say, everyone listened.  I know I did, and because of that, I will be forever grateful to him for the lessons he taught me.”  -Kevin Stocker

“Darren was the toughest player I have ever been around.  He fought the fight until the end.  Rest in Peace my friend.”  -Lee Thomas

“Darren was a leader and friend who I have admired since the day I met him.  He was the glue that kept a group of misfits together and ultimately led us to a championship.”   -Milt Thompson

"Leadership isn't manufactured or contrived. You either have it or you don't. Darren exuded leadership on the field, in the clubhouse, throughout the organization and in public.  The likes of Darren Daulton come along very infrequently."  -Ed Wade

“I am so sad to hear of another passing of one of the Phillies family, one of the best I ever had the good fortune to play with, and the biggest part of our most special '93 team, Darren "Dutch" Daulton. I believe he was truly loved on a different level than most. He was the Captain of our chaos, the most respected player amongst his peers, and those great players who came before him. He was our rock, our leader in that clubhouse of guys in 1993. He, of course, was first locker on Macho Row-I don't even know how it got the name, but I was fortunate enough to locker next to him, followed by Pete "Inky" Incaviglia, Lenny "Nails" Dykstra, and John "Kruky" Kruk. I say this because while he was undeniably the best looking man in Philly, people probably considered him macho. But what most people don't know about him was that he wasn't afraid to show his emotion. Dutch always had a big hug and a kiss on the cheek for anyone of us who he was happy with. However, when someone needed to be stood up straight, he did it and you knew it. Maybe that's why he kept me close, I don't know, but I'm glad he did. When he walked in a room, or on the field, he commanded it. And let's be honest, women loved Dutch. I think that a lot of baby boys were named after him, either Darren or Daulton, just to have a piece of him. Aside from his rock star looks, he had toughness and grit that was just in your face. Ten knee surgeries couldn't keep him from putting on that gear. I believe he caught over 140 games that year. He was super human to me. With two bags of ice on both knees before every game, he set the tone for us players that year and probably for the rest of our careers. It's pretty hard to go in and ask for a day off with a guy like that in the locker room. His drive and tenacity to grind out every game came from his love of the game, his teammates, the fans, and our beloved owner Bill Giles, affectionately known to us as "Uncle Bill". The memories us teammates, the Phillies organization, and the fans that were along for that ride in '93 have, are forever burned in our hearts and minds, we'll never forget. The monumental impact he had on nearly all of them will never be erased and probably never duplicated. One of my favorite memories of Dutch was when, one of the many times, I walked the bases loaded in the ninth with a two run lead. He comes to the mound just drenched in sweat; it was 104 degrees on the turf that day at the Vet. I'm thinking he's fixing to yell in my face all the things that Kruky had been screaming at me from first base. He comes at me and says ‘Are you done ****ing around? It's hot out here and the beer is cold in the clubhouse- let’s go!’  Well, I got out of that trouble and we won the game. He always knew how to get the best out of me and all of his teammates. Bubba, I will miss you. I will miss laughing with you and reliving all those memories from that glorious year. I will miss your big smile, open arms, with you calling out to me "Pooh" on Alumni weekends. The only comfort I feel today is that 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!”   -Mitch Williams