100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 33 – John Kruk

John Kruk
First Baseman
1989-1994

Career w/Phillies: .306 AVG / 62 HR / 390 RBI / 33 SB

Like his other 1993 teammates, John Kruk’s career was hampered by injury. But when he was healthy, he was very good. Kruk arrived in Philadelphia with Randy Ready for emerging outfielder Chris James. While James never quite lived up to his promise, settling into a utility/DH role, Kruk became a three-time All Star with the Phillies. He did it by being a skilled hitter — a .291 average in 1990, .294 in 1991, .323 in 1992 and .316 in 1993. He also finished second in the National League in on-base percentage in ’92 and ’93. He was also a disciplined hitter, sometimes walking more than striking out and ending with a career ratio close to 1:1. Sadly, Kruk’s career was derailed in Spring Training 1994 when a pickoff throw by Mitch Williams hit Kruk in the groin. Kruk wasn’t only injured, but a testicle proved to be cancerous. He played little in ’94, the Phillies granted him free agency in 1995, and he signed up with the White Sox. On July 30, 1995, in Baltimore, Kruk — feeling bored with the game — struck a single. Then he took himself out of the game … and ended his career.

Comment: Nobody personified the 1993 Phils quite like Kruk — he was out of shape, dirty and nothing graceful. And he somehow found himself in the spotlight because of one lucky year. His greatness is abbreviated, but it isn’t lost.

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Matt

    February 22, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    “Im not an Athlete, Im a ballplayer” the best quote from the kruker who is the man…

  2. jeromy

    February 22, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Wow I didn’t know that’s how Kruks career ended. That’s pretty intense. He’s the best commentator on baseball tonight by far. I’d love to see him go to the mlb network and team up with Mitchy poo

  3. Joshua

    February 22, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    one-nut Kruk

  4. folkfish

    February 22, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    What a great Philly hero. I think I recall him coming back from his cancer surgery and lacing a double in his first at bat.

  5. NEPA

    February 22, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Still have my tee-ball baseball card that has Kruk listed as my favorite player. Utley has since surpassed him but I loved this guy.

  6. MikeB

    February 22, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Kind of a comical baseball player at times, I remember Kruk taking his white handkerchief out of his back pocket when batting for the NL in an All-Star Game and waving it at AL pitcher Randy Johnson as a sign of surrender after Johnson threw him a high inside heater. Johnson had thrown him a couple or three high inside heaters in a row but the last one he threw to Kruk was the closest to his head and in a comical playful gesture, out came the “surrender flag.”

    Kruk was a gamer. Generally found a way to get on base somehow. I do not know if you could classify him as being a good pure hitter but he was a disciplined batter and a clutch hitter. It is a shame that he had so many injuries that helped cut down on his career. Was one of those players that could look bad swinging at a ball but could get solid wood on the ball on next pitch thrown.

  7. Chapps

    February 22, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    What I remember most about Kruk is watching the All-Star game in ’91 thinking that he would start the rally for the NL in the 9th, but it never happened, and he never made it into the game. What a shame he was such a key part of that ’93 team and the first thought that comes into my mind is that he was the first player I ever remember to not make it on the field in an All-Star game.

  8. jeromy

    February 22, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Ill never forget his incredible performance in “the fan” haha

  9. mets09

    February 22, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I love the video ESPN shows every year of Randy Johnson making him look pathetic. Three straight pitches.hah

  10. folkfish

    February 22, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    mets09, you’re coming off like a real jackass with that comment.

  11. MikeMc26

    February 22, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Kruk is my all-time favorite Phillie. He is a really cool, blue collar, down to earth guy who generally loved playing baseball. He was also a very good ballplayer, who not only used his skills at the plate but also used guile to get hits, many of them clutch. I just wish he’d bail on Baseball Tonight and sign back on with Comcast in Philly or the MLB Network where he could be himself some more, but ya gotta make a living somehow…

    I’m really stoked to see him this high on the list; nice pick Tim!

  12. Justin

    February 22, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    My fondest memory of the Krukker was seeing him with his son at the Ocean City boardwalk. He was super friendly and as funny as you can imagine. We named our late dog after him also (Krukker).

  13. ryan

    February 22, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    the Krukker. a guy who fit Philly like a glove. great guy. i met him down at disneyworld and he was there with ESPN. love him on baseball tonight.

    btw: the reason he took himself out of the game after that single he hit is so he could retire with a lifetime .300 batting average.

  14. ryan

    February 22, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    i’ll also add that in 1993 i dressed up as Kruk for halloween and nobody had any trouble guessing who i was. i wore a mullet wig , some fake stubble, and put a pillow under my shirt for a gut. one of my greatest costumes ever.

  15. Brooks

    February 22, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Back on track TM, Kruck’s career here was not that long but eventful, memorable and mostly, fun to watch.

  16. mets09

    February 22, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Im sorry folkfish,I dont know if ive ever seen you on here ,but relax. dont get too pissed, it was just an all star game. It really is my most memorable moment of Kruk

  17. Jason B.

    February 22, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Awesome pick for this spot. If there is one player in Phillies history that personified the fans rooting the team on, it was the Krukker. Two memories….

    1. I got a towel as a giveaway in 91 at the ballpark that had carictures of Kruk, Daulton, and Hayes. Kruk was sitting behind a desk, doing Kruks corner on the towel.

    2. Before game 6 of the NLCS, Tim McCarver stated that the Phillies had no shot at beating Maddox and the game was going back to Atlanta. My dad, normally a quite guy, made a huge sign that said”Yo Tim, Kruk You.” That we brought to the game. AS a 12 year old, I was so proud of my dad for that.

    Nobody cares i’m sure, but I thought I’d share because the Krukker was one of my all time favorites.

  18. Jason B.

    February 22, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Mets09, even as a Phillies fan, I still think that video of Kruk is completely epic.

  19. Joe

    February 22, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I recall after Kruk came back from his cancer treatment, Harry and Whitey always avoided the phrase “one ball”. It was always “the count is 1 and 0.”

  20. ryan

    February 22, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    joe: the guys in that clubhouse were so close knit a loose that they actually made fun of Kruk right to his face about that all the time.

    that was a truly great team. it’s just such a shame they didn’t finish the job because I feel they’d be remembered as one of the great teams in baseball history if they capped it off. like a more modern version of the gashouse gang

  21. bsg

    February 22, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Probably my alltime phillies player too, and of my favorite phillies memories was from Game 1 of the ’93 NLCS vs. the braves when kim batisite went from goat to hero and John kruk came chugging…. and i mean CHUGGING around third to score on kim’s double to win the game in the 10th inning,and the vet went f’n crazy, that will always be one of my favorite all time phillies moments especially since i got to be at the game and share the experience with my brother

  22. Wilson

    February 23, 2009 at 12:58 am

    took the words right out of my mouth bsg…..

    By far one of my favorite Phillies of all time!

  23. Whisky Priest

    February 23, 2009 at 3:15 am

    This man personifies the looseness that baseball has lost recently. He was a tubby bitch, no doubt about it. He played the game as such and stopped when he felt he was done having fun. Now he loves it again from the outside but isn’t too proud to enjoy himself. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, anyone?

  24. Evan

    February 23, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Kruk was my favorite Phillie when I was a kid. I remember that one on the school bus we always seemed to think that Wild Thing just blew his ball away. I love that he’s on baseball tonight, my favorite guy on there by a mile.

  25. JohnKruksLoveChild

    February 23, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    What can I say, dad is the living, breathing incarnation of this city.

    God I miss his man-perm.

  26. Richie Allen

    February 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    The thing that was different about Kruk was that he didnt take himself too seriously.He busted everybody in the clubhouse but they loved him.
    I remember watching a tape on those 93 Phils. He christened Jim Eisenreich “Dahmer”, (as in the mass murderer),because he had Turett syndrome. Eisenreich’s wife said he was the first guy on all of his teams to not only address the condition but to make fun of it.After that ,Eisenreich loved the Phils.
    This guy was the funniest player in recent memory.I wish we had him back on Comcast .He doesnt let his true personality out on ESPN.

  27. JohnKruksLoveChild

    February 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Kruk concluded: “I always told Murph he was the only sane one in the clubhouse. Our clubhouse had one Mormon and 24 morons.”

    One of his best quotes, like Richie pointed out, this was a guy that the fans AND the players loved. Dutch may have been the heart of the ’93 team, but Krukker was the soul.

  28. ryan

    February 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    well said love child. well said.

    dare i say, Larry Andersen was the brains. lol

  29. ashmidt

    February 23, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    lee thomas did a hell of a job getting kruk, dykstra and schilling in trades, if you had a top 100 trades those 3 had to be in the top 10. besides dutch and morandini and stocker, did anyone on that team come through the farm system ? that just goes to show you how lame the bill giles era was, he was truely pathetic.

  30. clktwr14

    February 23, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    I remember Krukker on Letterman talking about the 93 Phils and he said that when Mitchy poo came in for his frist Spring Training and wanted number 99 cause his wide had a ton of ninety nine jewerly and he was wearing it ,instead of what guys usually ask for new watches or new jewerly, all he wanted was a case of beer

  31. clktwr14

    February 23, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    ashmidt Dutch Daulton came through the farm system

  32. Alan Robert

    February 24, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Only Phillie ever to wear 4 numbers. #11, #19 (in honor of “The Bull” cause he was a fellow Polish guy) #28 (which is the one Mitch gave him the case of beer for) and #29

    Loved me some Krukker!!

  33. Kev

    June 5, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    I’ve been a Mets fan all of my life, and I respect alot of guys like Utley and Howard…but y’all are the enemy! That said, a Baseball fan that does not love John Kruk is like a football fan that does not love Brett Favre.

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