The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 14

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"The Krukker" Entertains
at the Holiday Benefit
Luncheon
Continued from page 13
thinking of making a meal out of
one or more of his teammates. Kruk
went on to say how Eisenreich's wife
said that this was the first team her
husband felt really a part of, given all
the kidding.
With Carter's home run, the
magic captured by the Phillies in
1993 began to dissipate rapidly, then
downright evaporated as the team
experienced injuries and deterioration
of performances, not posting a winning record for the seven
seasons that followed. Kruk himself had health problems
immediately following the 1993 season when it was discovered
that he had testicular cancer. Providing insight into the pain
that he experienced, Kruk shared with the audience receiving
chemotherapy in Philadelphia, and then, while undergoing
radiation treatment, he engaged in training sessions during
February and March at Veterans Stadium with Phillies coaches,
his own version of "spring training." At the beginning of the
season, with the Phillies on the road, Kruk spent a weekend
playing three games with the Reading Phillies on a rehab
assignment.
Kruk joined the Phillies for their home opener immediately
after the time in Reading. Aside from wanting to play on general
principles, he wanted to be present that day as the championship
rings from the previous season were going to be presented.
Initially, team doctors were reluctant to approve his being ready to
play, but Kruk described that he ultimately was successful in being
able to play. He related how, upon his return that day, each of his
Phillies teammates wore a tee shirt reading, "If you can't play I'm
taking my ball and going home." Kruk cited this as an example of
what the special kind of group his teammates were-"They made
fun of someone with Tourette's Syndrome, someone with testicular
cancer. It didn't matter what. You were a part of things."
Although he had three hits in his debut that season, Kruk
said he was not ready to return, and made a big mistake in coming
back too early. Although he still managed to hit .301 that year,
his performance slipped. Because of issues with his knees, Kruk
signed with the White Sox for the 1995 season as a designated
hitter. Relating how, in addition to his physical ailments, his heart
was no longer in the game, Kruk decided during the course of
the 1995 season he wanted to retire. He told this to White Sox
Manager Terry Bevington, but asked that he be able to have an
opportunity to have a hit in his last at-bat, so he could leave the
game on his own terms.
Kruk's last hit and last game was July 30, 1995 at Camden
Yards against the Orioles. Aside from Bevington, all of his
teammates knew it would be his last at-bat, if he had a hit. Words
to this effect, according to Kruk, also had gotten to Orioles pitcher
Scott Erikson, who tipped off that a fastball was coming which
Kruk drove for a single. Removed from the game after that inning,
14 | Berks Barrister

Kruk said that he was back at his home
in West Virginia before the game ended.
A statistical sidelight is that Kruk was
0-15 going into that last game but still
had margin of error to be a .300 hitter, if
he had not had a hit, but he was right on
the edge of slipping below a .300 average
for his career. The single fixed everything.
Following his retirement, during the
2003 season he spent some time in the
broadcast booth with the Phillies, and
a brief stint as hitting coach for the Reading Phillies followed.
In 2004 Kruk signed a contract with FOX Sports as an analyst, a
field where he has experienced a great degree of success. Following
his time with FOX, over the next twelve seasons he worked as an
analyst at ESPN, until there was a mutual parting of ways this
past October.
Adding some drama to this year's Holiday Benefit Luncheon
was an announcement by the Phillies the day before that Kruk
was joining the Phillies broadcast team as a color analyst on next
season's telecasts. Kruk repeated several times during the luncheon
that he had been told not to confirm this just yet, however, word
was out.
Kruk talked about his family baseball fields, one being in
West Virginia, where he played with his three older brothers, all of
whom hit right-handed. The problem for the left-handed hitting
Kruk was that his mother's vegetable garden was in right field. In
addition to the fact that a ball hit in the garden was an automatic
out, his mother's fury at having any of her plants damaged would
far surpass even the not insignificant amount of heat that Kruk
experienced in his divorce, which meant, "You just didn't want to
hit the ball in that garden," Kruk said, shaking his head. So, as a
consequence, he had to learn to hit to the opposite field, helping
him achieve his success in the big leagues.
The other family field Kruk talked about does not involve a
vegetable garden, but rather a softball field he helped fund for his
daughter's softball team in Naples, Florida. Kruk promoted fundraising to support construction of the field with the help of Buck
Showalter as well as Mike Schmidt who supplied memorabilia
and autographs for a fund-raising auction. Kruk is now in his first
year as the team's coach.
Among the many observations Kruk shared with the
audience concerning changes he has witnessed over his long career
in and around baseball, the one impressing me the most involves
the All-Star game. As Kruk put it, "You look at the airport, and
each player has his own private charter jet for transportation."
ESPN's loss is a big gain for Phillies fans.
Brian C. Engelhardt, Esquire, is an attorney with BB & T and
is the author of the recently published book, Reading's Big
League Exhibition Games. Brian's knowledge of baseball is
equal to his knowledge of the law.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Berks Barrister Winter 2017

The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 1
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 2
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 3
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 4
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 5
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 6
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 7
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 8
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The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 12
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 13
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 14
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 15
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 16
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The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 18
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 19
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 20
The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 21
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The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 28
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The Berks Barrister Winter 2017 - 40
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