As a player it was his easygoing attitude and everyman likability that were the spirit of the 1993 Phillies team that lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series. He became a fan favorite. And Phillies president David Montgomery said it himself: He was inducting Kruk's personal charm into the Wall of Fame, too.
Kruk's first response was fitting. This was the first time he had received a good phone call from Montgomery: Usually when Montgomery had called in the past, Kruk was in trouble for something.
He rehashed old memories from that 1993 season with former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton, who watched from the side and was inducted into the Wall of Fame in 2010.
"It seemed like when we got together in mid-February, it was like one big party," said Kruk, who hit .348 in that 1993 World Series. "The games just happened to be here."
"He made us play," added Kruk, pointing to Montgomery to his right.
The fans loved that attitude. Kruk said the players didn't want to go home after the games, so they went out and were with the fans.
"Our fans enjoyed watching that club enjoy each other," Montgomery said. "And they just got on and went for the ride with them. And I don't think there was a bigger personality than the person sitting to my left."
The stories kept coming: how Kruk complained about rain delays and how the rambunctious Phillies had the advantage over a Padres team "that had a lot of guys going to church" when a game extended deep into the night.
Asked to project if the 1993 Phillies could beat the 2011 version, Kruk all but conceded defeat, saying this is the best Phillies team he's ever seen assembled.
"We'd probably have more fun," Dalton chimed in.
Montgomery first met Kruk during the first baseman's first offseason with the team. It was at a holiday party one of the owners was throwing and Kruk, the West Virginia native, was mingling in this coat-and-tie setting. You could say he was misplaced.
But Kruk was in his element. He was around other people.
"He is remarkably comfortable with anybody," Montgomery said. "People with many different backgrounds would walk away smiling, saying, 'Boy was I lucky to have met that guy.' So there are many things on the field. . . . But he has as much charisma and charm as anybody to have played the game."
Contact staff writer Tim Rohan
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