Monday, August 15, 2011

John Kruk: The Guts to Succeed

Prior to 2008 and this current run the Phillies are on, the 1993 squad was the defining team of my generation. And while Darren Daulton was the unquestioned leader of that team, Curt Schilling its ace, Lenny Dykstra its fire and table-setter, Dave Hollins its intimidator, and Mitch Williams the most infamous, John Kruk was the embodiment of the 1993 Phillies and easily the biggest fan favorite.

There are several reasons for that. For starters, Kruk looked like any fat, slobby Philadelphian walking down the street and never took himself too seriously. But looks can deceiving. Make no mistake about it, John Kruk was a hell of an athlete and a hell of a baseball player. The guy was a career .300 hitter, a three-time all-star and worked as hard as anyone. He was a slick fielder and ran the bases better than anyone his size should be able to. He had a great eye at the plate, a memorable trait of the entire '93 team, and simply knew how to play the game the right way.

But more important than his looks and his talent, Kruk is the most beloved player from that 1993 team because he understood Philadelphia better than anyone. He didn't buy into the stereotypes or let the the pressure overwhelm him. He embraced it, he welcomed it and he loved it. He is as Philadelphia as an athlete gets.

John Kruk was inducted to the Phillies Wall of Fame this weekend for a lot of reasons, all of them making him deserving. But perhaps the biggest reason of all is because he had the guts to succeed here whereas so many athletes before and since have not.

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