July. 28 — Although Mickey Morandini thought he knew a lot about baseball, he discovered there was a lot to learn when he debuted with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990.
One of the first things he said he learned was that catcher Darren Doulton was the heart and soul of Phillies on and off the field.
“Darren was the leader,” Morandini said. “He took concern of any situation that happened. If there was something he didn’t think was appropriate, Darren took concern of it. Rarely did it get to the manager.”
Morandini, who has played second base for 11 seasons in the major leagues, including nine with the Phillies, was at Reading’s First Energy Stadium on Tuesday night to present to the Darren Doulton Foundation.
The Foundation’s mission is to provide financial support to families facing financial challenges due to treatment for a diagnosis of a primary brain malignancy. Morandini joined the Foundation as an ambassador.
Daulton died August. 6, 2017 at the age of 55 from the effects of brain cancer.
“We lost him too beforetime,” Morandini said. “He was a man packed of life. He loved life, he enjoyed people, he had a pleasing time. To see him go down the road he had a firm time walking and talking, it was really firm.
“He was a very exceptional person. He was the best club captain I’ve ever been in. He was a super man.”
Especially for his previous teammates and fans who watched Phillies led by Daulton triumph the 1993 National League flag and advance to the World Championship. It was a magical year that Morandini and his colleagues will treasure for the rest of their lives.
“The thing I remember is how we won ball games,” Morandini said. “We got off to this really hot start. Then the fans started to pay attention a little bit. We started getting big fans. We played the game the right way, we did all the little things really well. It was a exceptional team. When you go to a world championship like that, it should be. You have a lot of players who have career years.”
First baseman John Crook had the most laughs, bowler Kurt Schilling was the ace and defensive back Lenny Dykstra was the offensive catalyst. But Morandini said it was Daulton who brought everyone together.
“He had the biggest stint in the team at that time,” Morandini said. “He’s had a boatload of knee surgeries. I think he’s had nine surgeries in his career, yet he’s been out there and playing every day.
“Darren meant a lot to me. He was considerate of my dad’s personality when it first came out. He taught me a lot about the game, how to deal with the media, how to play painfully, and just playing the game the right way.”
Morandini went on to become the 1995 National League All-Star. At the age of 55, he was serving as an ambassador for the Phillies community.
Morandini, who grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of Lichburg, was recruited by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1987 but decided to stay at Indiana University to fulfill a dream of playing in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Morandini played in one game at the Olympics and returned to Indiana. Drafted in the fifth round by the Velez in 1988.
By the end of the 1989 season, Morandini had spent an unforgettable two months in Reading as he climbed to the major leagues. Thirty-two years later, he was standing on the hill taking his first ceremonial step in honor of his teacher.
“I played really well here,” Morandini said. “I passed 0.350. I think I really turned some heads when I got here. It’s one of the best places in the lesser leagues.
“I wasn’t the fastest, I wasn’t the strongest, I didn’t throw as firm. But I played the game the right way. I gave it my all.”
The way you made Daulton elated.