Former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra is certainly a character, but he's one that knows how to be serious when the time comes. That was apparent when he was a player, and also when he was recently discussing his former teammate Darren Daulton.
Sunday evening, Daulton passed away at the age of 55. Just prior to Daulton's passing, Dykstra read a message that he says the Phillies had asked him to prepare with Daulton struggling in his battle with cancer.
Dykstra, who was a teammate of Daulton's on the 1993 National League pennant winning Phillies, appeared on Shark Time Radio last week. He said this of Daulton:
"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, where 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 characters, given virtually no chance by the prognosticators, found our way to the World Series. Dutch was always our rock, the guy who saved the ship. And [Jim] Fregosi trusted in him to keep us focused and together. Dutch did not disappoint."
Dykstra, who was Daulton's teammate for parts of eight seasons, went on to tell a story of how Daulton went from despising him to treating him like family when he was traded from the New York Mets in June of 1989:
"It's ironic that I'm 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 during my career. Nonetheless, when I was traded to the Phillies, we became brothers almost immediately. While we had been with the Phillies for a few years, he had become a starter in 1989. Within the year, John Kruk, Dave Hollins and I all joined the team. The catcher's character [makes him] like a coach on the field – Dutch was more than that. He was our anchor, our leader, assuring that our focus was always between the lines when we played. His stewardship and incredible toughness were the inspiration for our magical year in 1993. We put it all together and made baseball fun again in Philly."
Dykstra went on to call it a "privilege" to know and have played with Daulton, who was inducted into the organization's Wall of Fame in July of 2010. Dykstra also that he will miss Daulton.
All of us at SportsTalkPhilly.com send our condolences to Daulton's family, friends and former teammates. Dutch is truly one of the kindest guys that has ever been around the sport.