PHILADELPHIA -- Darren Daulton led one of the most memorable and beloved teams in Phillies history to the 1993 National League pennant. He became an iconic figure in Philadelphia sports history in the process, a symbol of leadership and toughness in a city that treasures its blue-collar work ethic.
Daulton died on Sunday at age 55 following a four-year battle with brain cancer. Current and former members of the Phillies shared their favorite memories of "Dutch," including team chairman David Montgomery and former teammates Milt Thompson and Tommy Greene during a news conference Monday morning at Citizens Bank Park.
"The last time I saw him in person was in Spring Training," Greene said. "That was sort of a rough time, seeing things happen as they were."
Daulton last appeared in Philadelphia in October for his foundation's golf outing. His cancer accelerated from there.
"I had a quicker conversation with him in fantasy camp [in January in Clearwater, Fla.]," Greene said. "That's also when I got woken up to the change from his golf outing in October, what it was doing to him. We expressed how much we loved each other, I expressed how much he meant to me and what he had done in my life. I also reiterated that to him at the end of March, too, the last time I talked to him face to face. I gave him a hug and a kiss. It's one of the toughest things I've had to do."
"I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him and he told me, 'Hey, I'm going to fight. I'm going to beat this thing,'" Thompson said.
Daulton was born on Jan. 3, 1962. He graduated from Arkansas City (Kan.) High School. The Phillies selected Daulton in the 25th round of the 1980 Draft. He was a three-time NL All-Star who played 14 seasons with the Phils (1983; 1985-97), the longest tenure of any catcher in franchise history. He won the Silver Slugger in 1992, leading the NL with 109 RBIs. Daulton joined Roy Campanella, Johnny Bench and Gary Carter as the only catchers to lead their leagues in RBIs.
The Phillies traded Daulton to the Marlins in July 1997, when he won his only World Series.
Philadelphia inducted him onto its Wall of Fame in 2010. Daulton established the Darren Daulton Foundation in 2011. He had surgery for resection of two brain tumors related to glioblastoma at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital on July 1, 2013. The foundation's mission shifted to raise funds for brain cancer shortly thereafter.
"We know we're not going to live forever, but we root for each other to get where I am in life, in your 70s and whatnot," Montgomery said. "It's particularly tough to have been as close as I got to three individuals that suffered the same thing and that would be Tug McGraw, John Vukovich and Dutch."
Daulton had a magnetic personality, which fit the 1993 Phils well. He could be tough when needed. He could play counselor when needed, too.
He treated everybody the same way.
"There was this one winter, I'm not sure what year it was, Darren was here rehabbing his knee," Montgomery said. "He became part of us. He would come and have lunch with the employees in the lunchroom. The impression that I always got was that Darren was very comfortable in whatever setting he was in."
"After games and we would stay until 1, 2, 3 o'clock in the morning," Greene said "I was in charge of bringing him a cold refreshment. I learned more about the game of baseball and how to play the game of baseball from that man during those times in that training room and also on the on the field. Those were the happy times. There were a lot of good times where you wanted to be around the ballpark and around him. He was infectious with the way he treated people and the way he went about his business. He taught me how to be a professional and how to play the game right. He held me accountable. You can't ask for anything more than that."
Daulton is survived by his parents, Carol and Dave, and brother, Dave Jr., of Arkansas City, Kan.; his wife, Amanda, of Clearwater; and his four children Zachary (27), Summer (17), Savannah (16) and Darren Jr. (15), all of whom reside in the Clearwater area.
Funeral services for Darren will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Darren Daulton Foundation, 1339 Chestnut Street, Suite 500, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.