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Daulton remembered for what he shared -- love

MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Larry Andersen took the Phillies' charter home from San Francisco after Sunday's series finale at AT&T Park, got home around 3 o'clock Monday morning, then turned right around and went back to the airport without bothering to sleep.

Ricky Jordan came from Sacramento, Calif. Lenny Dykstra, who splits his time between Southern California and New York, made it. "I'd have walked if I'd had to," he said. Ruben Amaro Jr., first-base coach for the Red Sox, skipped Monday night's game in Cleveland to attend.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Larry Andersen took the Phillies' charter home from San Francisco after Sunday's series finale at AT&T Park, got home around 3 o'clock Monday morning, then turned right around and went back to the airport without bothering to sleep.

Ricky Jordan came from Sacramento, Calif. Lenny Dykstra, who splits his time between Southern California and New York, made it. "I'd have walked if I'd had to," he said. Ruben Amaro Jr., first-base coach for the Red Sox, skipped Monday night's game in Cleveland to attend.

Many other former Phillies -- John Kruk, Don Carman, Dave Hollins, Ben Rivera, Danny Jackson, Tommy Greene, Kevin Stocker, Pat Burrell, Von Hayes, Jason Michaels, Bobby Thigpen, Marty Bystrom, Larry Christenson, Milt Thompson and Dickie Noles -- made their way to the team's former Spring Training city.

They were there for a celebration of life for Darren Daulton, the Phillies catcher who played such a big role in the team's unlikely march to the 1993 World Series. Clearwater, where the Phils have trained since 1947, was adopted by Daulton as his home. And so many of his former teammates -- not to mention front office executives, starting with chairman emeritus Bill Giles, managers like Charlie Manuel and Lee Elia, coaches and friends -- dropped whatever they were doing to remember and honor Dutch, who passed away Aug. 6 at the age of 55 after a courageous four-year fight against brain cancer.

While all the expected themes were struck -- Daulton's leadership, toughness and determination were all properly acknowledged -- it was Kruk who set the tone in his remembrance at the Chapel by the Sea.

"I think the greatest thing that Darren Daulton taught all of us, and it's not a word that's used in baseball or sports, is love," the former first baseman, now a broadcaster for the team, told a crowd of some 200. "Never in my life have I been hugged and kissed by a man more than Darren did. That's the thing I'm going to miss about him -- love.

"He showed us love. And in showing us love, we all became better people. Because of him. We're going to miss him dearly. We already do. But the one thing I can promise you all here, his legacy will never die because of all of us. We will keep it going forever. We will make sure everyone knows what kind of man Darren Daulton was. What he meant to us on a daily basis."

Left-hander Don Carman spent countless hours at Daulton's bedside during his final weeks. He, too, talked about love.

"Darren had an ability to make everyone around him feel special," Carman said, struggling to control his emotions. "From the clubhouse guys to the president of the team, everyone received that love. Everyone felt special just to be around him. It's easy to give and share that love when things are going well. There were many times when the sea was not calm. But he always, every moment, gave that kind of love. We often ask that life be easy. Darren showed that life doesn't have to be easy to be great.

"He gave and received love better than any man I ever met and he shared it with everyone."

Daulton's mother, Carol, touched on the fact that her son's life had some rough patches.

"Darren had many, many wonderful things happen to him in his lifetime," she noted. "But he also had some really bad things, like when he lost all his money plus his family and his way of life as he knew it.

"He could have become very bitter and angry for the rest of his life, but instead he chose to be a better man for the rest of his life. In honor of Darren, I would like to challenge the whole world to see their glass as half full. Be kind, understanding and loving to the people in your life without expecting anything in return."

Daulton's first son, Zachary, read a composition entitled, "We'll Always Love You, Dad."

The celebration was followed by a reception during which many of the guests first acknowledged the heroic role played by his third wife, Amanda, during his final years before sharing their favorite stories, telling of his determination and his kindnesses, big and small.

Roly deArmas, now the manager of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies was Daulton's first professional manager, at Helena of the Pioneer League, in 1980. Even then, he said, you could tell that Daulton was something special.

"No doubt about it," deArmas said. "Even out of high school, you could see the way he was. Even as a young kid, you could tell he was the leader of the group. Everybody gravitated right to him. I told people, 'He's going to be good, and he's going to be a leader.'"

Daulton's impact spread beyond baseball. More than half Monday's crowd consisted of people who never played for the Phillies. Former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Steve DeBerg was there. So was Dick Yuengling, president of America's oldest brewery. So were a group of friends from the Tampa Bay area, many of whom he met after Daulton's career had ended.

It's always dicey to assume what somebody would have wanted after they're gone. But two lines printed in the memorial program offered a hint.

You can shed tears that he is gone,
Or you can smile because he lived.

Those who gathered Monday tried, mostly successfully, to focus on the good times with a raised glass and a toast and, yes, with a smile. Surely, Dutch would have wanted it that way.

Paul Hagen, a reporter for MLB.com, won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in 2013 for a lifetime of excellence in baseball writing.

Philadelphia Phillies