John Kruk: From Phillies Fan Favorite to Beloved Broadcaster

Inside The Phillies
Inside The Phillies

A fan favorite in Philadelphia since 1989, today we dive into the career of John Kruk.

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John Kruk was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the 1981 MLB draft. After several years spent in the minor leagues, he was finally promoted to the bigs in 1986.

He spent four seasons in San Diego including a very successful sophomore year, where he hit 20 home runs with a .406 on base percentage. But in 1989, Kruk was off to a slow start, and by June, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.

He bounced back in a major way with the Phillies, batting .331 with 38 RBIs and five home runs in his shortened season with the team. It was the start of six magical years as a player for the Phillies franchise.

1990 was Kruk’s first full season in Philadelphia and while it may not have been stellar, he settled in nicely as the team’s first baseman while batting .291 on the year. It was 1991, however, where Kruk really hit his stride. Kruk was a MLB All-Star for three straight years from ‘91 to ‘93, with 1991 being one of the best seasons of his career.

In ‘91, Kruk batted .294 with 92 RBIs and 21 home runs over the span of 154 games, the most of his career. He led the Phillies in all three of those statistics, and finished 17th in MVP voting on a 78-84 team that was third in the NL East.

Kruk’s production remained for the seasons to come and despite a 6th place finish in the NL East in 1992, the team caught their stride in a big way in ‘93. They were known as the Wild Bunch with Lenny Dykstra, Mitch Williams, Darren Daulton, and Kruk nicknamed “Macho Row.” Kruk batted .316 with 14 homers that season and helped lead his team to the playoffs.

In the NLCS, the Phillies were going up against the 104-win Atlanta Braves, a team who had started a dynasty in baseball and were vying for their third consecutive World Series appearance. The Phillies shocked the world by winning four of six and advancing to the World Series. Kruk had six hits, five RBIs, and a homer in that NLCS.

Similar to the NLCS, the World Series lasted six games as well, but ended in devastation for the Phillies as they lost the series to the Toronto Blue Jays. Kruk batted .348 in the World Series while also drawing seven walks. This would be the first and only playoff appearance of his career.

1994 would be Kruk’s last season in a Phillies uniform as a mix of off the field complications, including a cancer diagnosis, and the strike shortened season gave him just 75 games that year. In ‘95, Kruk was a free agent and signed with the Chicago White Sox, who he would play for in 45 games before retiring mid-season on July 30. This would call an end to an incredibly successful career that brought Phillies fans a National League pennant and countless memories.

Kruk never quite fit the stereotypical mold of a professional athlete. He had the appearance of a middle-aged truck driver, and thus became an instant fan favorite in Philadelphia. In his six seasons with the Phils, Kruk played in 744 games with 3,001 plate appearances. He scored 403 runs and collected 790 hits. He slashed .309/.400/.461 with an .861 OPS. On top of all that, Kruk only committed 42 errors in his 10-year career split between first base and the outfield. His first base fielding percentage of .995 is tied for 36th all-time at the position.

After his retirement, Kruk found himself in multiple media roles working for Fox Sports, spending many years with ESPN, and currently serving as a member of the Phillies broadcast crew. He has gone down as one of the biggest fan favorite players in Phillies history, with his legendary career being recognized with a plaque on the Phillies Wall of Fame.

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