Thursday, August 7, 2008
#596 John Kruk
Why this card is awesome: Because just like Kevin McReynolds a little while back, Kruk is rockin' the weird combo of warmup jacket and batting helmet.
I have a vivid memory of John Kruk during the 1993 NLCS against the Braves, when he played for the Phillies. In Game 1 of that series (in which the Braves were favored but the Phillies eventually won,) Kim Batiste came in as a defensive substitution for Dave Hollins at 3B in the ninth inning, at the same time that Mitch Williams came in to try to save a tie game. Thanks to a Williams walk and a Batiste error, the Braves tied the game and it went to extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, Kruk had one of the biggest hits of his career, doubling off Greg McMichael. Batiste, who was offensively challenged in comparison to Hollins, was then forced to bat for himself after Kruk. He delivered a single, and Kruk scored the winning run. What I remember so vividly is this, though: watching Kruk (who wasn't the fastest runner) round third base and try to score, the TV camera caught him taking at least 3 chews of whatever was in his mouth (I assume tobacco) as he was rounding the base, running home. If you're too young to remember John Kruk, that story tells you everything you need to know about the guy. Very rough around the edges but a damn fine ballplayer.
Cool stat: Not very often does a first baseman score 100+ runs but drive in 95 or fewer. But the Krukster did it in that magical year of 1993. It's been done only 3 times since, including by Kevin Youkilis and Nick Johnson in 2006.