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Porter's family remembers 'carefree' father

Former Cards catcher, 1982 World Series MVP, died 10 years ago Sunday

ST. LOUIS -- They've seen the highlight tapes. They've watched their father's MVP performance in the 1982 World Series. And this weekend, as they joined the 1982 Cardinals in St. Louis for a reunion to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their championship, Darrell Porter's family heard more stories from their late father's former teammates about the fervor Porter brought to the game.

But Porter's three children were too young to remember their father's playing days. Porter's daughter Lindsey, 30, was in diapers when her father helped the Cardinals beat the Brewers for their ninth World Series title.

When they remember their father, who passed away 10 years ago on Sunday, Porter's kids recall fishing trips, summer days on the golf course and playing catch in the backyard.

"He was so carefree. He just loved to interact," said Porter's youngest son, Ryan, now 24. "We hear the same things, 'He was so intense.' But he wasn't like that when he was off the field. He just loved to laugh and smile and be with people."

Porter, who struggled with drug abuse during parts of his life, died from the toxic effects of cocaine on Aug. 5, 2002. He was 50. Porter's wife, Deanne, had never been through a more painful and trying experience.

But she recalls telling her children after her husband's death that, as a family, they had a choice: They could be bitter, or they could be better. The Porters chose to be better, and now 10 years later, they're able to laugh and smile when they remember the time they had with Darrell.

"He was a great father and he was a good person, and we do remember that," Deanne said. "We're sad that he's gone, sad with the circumstances, particularly, in which he lost his life. But we remember the good things and the fun things."

As for Porter's playing days, Deanne said no time was more fun for her husband than that 1982 season. Porter paced the Cardinals' lineup throughout the playoffs, earning the MVP in the National League Championship Series while batting .556 in a three-game sweep over Atlanta.

And in the World Series, Porter collected five RBIs while hitting .286 in seven games against his former club. Perhaps no hit was bigger than his two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth of Game 7. It gave Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter a little breathing room heading into the ninth.

"It really kind of propelled us," said Ozzie Smith.

"Darrell played hard every day," said Sutter, who spent four seasons in St. Louis with Porter. "He wouldn't give up, would run everything out. A talented catcher.

"He was the MVP, it doesn't get any better than that, does it?"

Deanne said that season, her husband's second in St. Louis, was when Darrell felt he earned the respect of the city. Porter played five seasons with the Cardinals and retired in 1987.

After his career, Porter took the time to help Ryan and eldest son Jeff develop their baseball careers. Both went on to play in college.

But Ryan said his father never took the game too seriously and never pressured his children to play. He simply enjoyed time spent with his family, regardless of whether the time was at the dinner table or the batting cages.

"Whatever he was doing, he wanted us to be a part of it," Jeff said. "He just loved to be around people and to be a part of our lives."

Mike Still is an associate reporter for
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