The 1993 Phillies opened the season 17-5 and led the NL East basically wire to wire. They upset the 104-win Braves in the NLCS and were a few outs from getting to Game 7 of the World Series when Joe Carter hit a walk-off homer to end the series.
Though they lost in the end, the team was an instant legend in Philadelphia. The early ’90s were not a great time for Philadelphia sports, and the 1993 Phillies were the apex of it. The team was not expected to contend before the season, and had finished last the year before. Instead, they created one of the most memorable years in Philly sports history.
The team, with its mulleted bunch of bruisers, was dubbed “Macho Row.” The team was often compared to Philadelphia itself. There were John Kruk lookalike contests. My friend got a dog and her family named it Daulton. People in the city connected with this team. I was in sixth grade; we didn’t have homework for weeks. My classroom at St. Martha’s actually took a photo with everyone wearing Phillies gear and sent it to Mitch Williams after his blown save in the World Series. They were Harry Kalas’s favorite Phillies team.
Yesterday one of the linchpins of that team, Darren Daulton, died of brain cancer. He was 55.
Daulton was the veteran on the ’93 Phillies. He’d broken into the majors in 1983, before any other regular, and had been with the Phillies his entire career at that point. He was known for his work ethic and leadership. That photo of him above? That’s him circling the bases during an 18-1 rout of the Rockies in May of that season, one of the many memorable games that campaign.
He was one of the most popular players on the team. Carli Lloyd wears No. 10 not for soccer reasons but because it was Daulton’s number.
He stayed with the Phillies his whole career until a midseason trade in 1997. As it so happened, Daulton’s final games in baseball were in the World Series that year. He hit .389, started at cleanup in the clinching Game 7, and retired after finally getting a ring.
As it so often happens, he became a fixture on the Philadelphia sports scene. Daulton hosted a radio show on 97.5, he was an analyst for Comcast SportsNet, he made appearances and signed autographs and was in Yuengling ads. He also wrote a book, If They Only Knew, that detailed his views on metaphysics, time travel, and other new age concepts. Then he got brain cancer.
He was honest about what it took from him, even when he was declared cancer-free in 2015. “I still have problems talking,” Daulton said at the time. “So I can’t go on the air like I used to. If I get tired, then I have problems. But I feel good. Just every now and then, I have problems, ‘What were we just talking about?’…I’ve been hanging out with a lot of people from Philadelphia that have similar problems. It just happens, and it happens to different people. I just try to say the right things. There have been a couple that have passed away. It would be nice if everybody didn’t have to deal with this cancer situation.”
Darren Daulton was a star on the 1993 Phillies. He became a local legend by sticking around after his playing career. He will be missed.