Monday, January 23, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #62 John Kruk

I read someone recently attempt to describe John Kruk as "Kenny Powers before Kenny Powers was Kenny Powers". If you have never watched the HBO Series EASTBOUND AND DOWN – you have to admit there is some similarities.

Think of John Kruk as the ying & yang of baseball athleticism. On one hand, Kruk was an excellent hitter with extraordinary hand/eye coordination and on the other his oversized waist is destined to add to the pile of evidence used characterize baseball players as not elite physically fit athletes. One thing I am relatively sure of, John Kruk was not a PED juicer... unless that juice was beer. Six pack abs or not, I so badly wanted his Phillies to win the 1993 World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. For me, he was the most loveable and most memorable characters on that forever famous team. The best way to sum up John Kruk is simply to use the quote most attributed to him “I’m not an athlete; I’m a baseball player.”

Short of winning the World Series, John Kruk actually got to live the baseball dream that most of us only get to fantasize about. Most importantly, he had fun and treated the game the way it should be treated, like a game. To most, he looked more like a fat beer league softball player than a major league all-star. True to his West Virginia roots, he proudly sported an eye-popping mullet and he may have only showered once a week. In 1991, he actually traded his uniform number (#28) to his new teammate (Mitch Williams) for $10 and two cases of beer. Williams later turned in #28 for the infamous #99. At the height of his fame, Kruk turned up as a guest on the David Letterman show and was more funny than any professional comedian.

The spring after that heart-breaking World Series loss, He referred to the goat of the series as “his hero” after Mitch Williams unleashed a wild pickoff throw that inadvertently broke Kruk’s protective cup, which necessitated a doctor’s exam, which led to an early diagnosis of testicular cancer. How many of you have ever been hit so hard in the crotch that it broke your cup – and called the guy that did it “a hero”?


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