Athlete Run-In: John Kruk, Hero Of The People

Today's final athlete run-in story, to be honest with you, might be our very favorite so far. We might hate the guy on "Baseball Tonight," but there was a reason he was beloved (before his job was to talk for a living) not only in Philadelphia, but around the baseball world.

This story, from John in Cherry Hill, N.J., helps explain why.

The legend of the Vet Stadium 700 level is well preserved in fandom lore. The fights, the thugs, the drunks, the clenched fists and scowls. Having bore witness to this section in person on a few occasions, I can whole-heartedly say that this is one of the few times where a legend truly lives up to itself.

In 2000, during Andy Reid's first full season as head coach, when the Eagles finished a rebuilding mode 5-11, I attended the final home game of the year against the Rams, who had pretty much benched all their starters since they wrapped up home field advantage and were in prime position to head back to the Super Bowl. The 700 level was less ornery that day — the Eagles were winning the game and that was enough to keep the crowd somewhat civil throughout. However, during the third quarter, some dude dressed in a very old Isaac Bruce jersey, a Rams' baseball hat and carrying some hokey cardboard sign that said "Rams Rule!" or something equally unoriginal began to walk around the perimeter of the 700 level deck. He passed our section once to a flurry of boos. He did it again and the boos became louder. The crowd began to get restless and I knew that something was going to happen to this misguided person if he came by again.

On his third pass, it happened — a full cup of soda came rifling down and hit him in the chest. The crowd cheered. Security began to make its way up to the section and everybody turned around to see who the culprit was. When security began walking the man down the stairs, the cheers became louder and when I finally got a view of the man, it was obvious he was not just your average drunk, pot-bellied animal that lived in the 700 level. Or was he? It turned out that the soda-thrower was former Phillie-cum-ESPN analyst John Kruk, wearing an awful grey sweatshirt and completely feeling right at home with the maniacs. As he was escorted out of the section, he made presidential waves to the rest of the fans — which was now giving him a full-on standing ovation — and security seemed to let him ham it up a bit because they knew who he was as well. If anybody questions why Philly was so in love with the '93 Phillies team — and the Eagles, for that matter - well that could pretty much sum it up right then and there.

Athlete Run-In: David Wells' Special Talent [Deadspin]