Though not unexpected, it was very sad news for Phillies Phans to hear last night, that Darren Daulton lost his 4 year bout with Brain Cancer. There are a myriad of stories on the internet, including the one posted by our Zach Bates here, so I will not attempt to recap his storied career as a Phillie.
It is obvious to anybody that was around in ’93 how much “Dutch” meant to that team and our city, as Harry Kalas would call him the “Undisputed leader in the Clubhouse” of that beloved squad. My post will be about what must have been to him a small moment among the thousands of interactions he had with phans during his career, and after, when he was a common fixture in the Delaware Valley.
My mother Helen, and her last husband Larry, often went to spring training in the late 80’s and into the early 90’s because they loved how close they could get to the players on and off the field. She was a huge sports fan and for many years had season tickets to the Phillies, Eagles, and the Philadelphia Stars USFL team, which she would share with me when she could not attend.
In 1991 she was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer and was told then that even w/ many operations and Chemo she would probably not live much longer than a year. She was in such bad shape, that my then girlfriend, whom I had been living with for a few years. decided to get married in October to make sure she would see the wedding.
Much like Darren, she fought as long as she could and we had many talks about how the team was doing and would she be able to go down to Clearwater one last time in ’92, but it was not to be. Once we knew that it would not happen, we contacted the Phillies to see if we could get an acknowledgement from Darren, who they had met a few times in Florida. This was in the days before cell phones and email so we had no way of knowing whether they received our letter or what might come of it.
In early April my Mother received a hand written letter from Dutch along w/ a signed picture and baseball, wishing her a speedy recovery and that he would love to meet her when she got better. Unfortunately those items are long gone, and the meeting never happened, but I will always remember the smile and tears she had when she would tell us about what she had received.
She never saw another game in person, as she passed away in late May of 1992 at the age of 61, but she would always say how she felt a part of the team as she watched the games. There has always been a bit of a regret to me that she did not see 1993 unfold, but I felt her with me on that ride, especially every time I would be at the ballpark cheering the team on as she had done so many times. She is still in my thoughts every Phillies game I attend.
Thank you Darren “Dutch” Daulton for the time you took for my Mother, and literally thousands of other Phillies Phans, from when you were drafted in 1980, to your very last days in your own battle with the Big C.
We will always remember.