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A Tribute to Dutch and the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies

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COMMENTARY | Say what you want about the greatest teams in Philadelphia sports history, it's entirely possible the most memorable and beloved team didn't win a world championship. The 1993 Philadelphia Phillies almost did - they lost the World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays in memorable fashion, Joe Carter's walk-off home run in Game 6. But considering the magical journey to that point with a cast of misfits who fit together perfectly for one season, even that imperfect ending doesn't spoil the story.

The Phillies won the 1993 National League pennant by winning 32 games more than they lost during the regular season. It was the only Phillies team in the entire decade of the '90s to even have a winning record. That team had players with nicknames such as Dutch, Nailz, Krukkie, Inky and Wild Thing, as well as a collective group called Macho Row. They had a left-handed pitcher in Danny Jackson who delighted television camera crews with his Hulk Hogan flexing imitations. They had a left-handed closer in Mitch Williams who would throw pitches over everybody now and then, and saved 43 games anyway. They were fun to watch on and off the field.

The Dutch I mentioned was the glue for that team. He was the foundation who kept a group of lunatics grounded enough to hold off the Montreal Expos for the National League East title, and then led them to an upset of the Atlanta Braves for a completely unexpected pennant.

Darren Daulton was the starting catcher for the National League in the All-Star Game that season. He slugged 24 home runs and drove in a team-high 105 runs. He finished seventh in the National League Most Valuable Player voting that season well behind Pittsburgh's Barry Bonds and Daulton's teammate Lenny Dykstra. Dutch was far more valuable for his leadership alone.

It's been 20 years since that special season. The Phillies plan to honor the 1993 Phillies when the Braves play at Citizens Bank Park Aug. 2-4. But some sad news yesterday is likely to cast a pall over those festivities.

Daulton, now 51 years old, was recently diagnosed with two brain tumors. He's scheduled for surgery early next week. A report today cited sources indicating one of the tumors is inoperable.

Darren Daulton was one of those guys Philadelphians always pulled for during his career. He didn't get the chance to be a regular until he was 27 years old and had two MVP-worthy seasons at ages 30 and 31. He struggled with injuries throughout his 14-year career and finally won a World Series ring when he left Philadelphia in 1997 as a half-season rental for the Florida Marlins. He hit .389 with a clutch homer for the Marlins in the seven-game triumph over the Cleveland Indians.

Now the man who was the rock center of what is arguably Philadelphia's most popular single team faces the ultimate challenge. It seems incomprehensible to have a celebration of the 1993 Phillies without Darren Daulton. But if it's at all possible, Phillies followers know he'll be there.

That's the Dutch they know and love.

Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Phillies follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards. He covered the 1980 World Series, the first championship in Phillies history.

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