February 9, 1961, Charleston, West Virgina.
Martin Kruk started his major league career with the San Diego
Padres in 1986. In 1989 he was traded to the Philedelphia Phillies,
where he became a full time player. He spent 5 1/2 seasons in
Philedelphia, including their improbable World Series run in 1993.
In 1995, his final season, Kruk played for the Chicago White Sox.
He finsihed his career with a .300 batting average, 100 home runs,
and 592 runs batted in.
his career, Kruk appeared in three All-Star games, starting one.
Possibly his most notorius moment came during the 1993 All-Star
game, when he faced then-Seattle Mariner Randy Johnson, who stands
6' 10" tall, throws 95+ miles per hour, and has a bit of
a wild streak at times. Johnson's first pitch came sailing right
for Kruk's head. Kruk flailed at the next three pitches (all right
down the middle of the plate) as he was diving out of the batter's
box making sure not to get hit. After the game, Kruk said "I
wasn't going to let him hit me while I was stationary. It would
be embarrassing to die on national TV."
missed the first six games of the 1994 season after suffering
from testicualr cancer. He played only 75 games in the strike
shortened season, spending time on the disabled list after artrhoscopic
knee surgery. After another surgery in the off-season, Kruk's
knees did not properly rehabilitate. He signed with the White
Sox in May of 1995, but after another stinit on the DL, Kruk's
desire to play was gone by the end of July. On July 30, he collected
a base hit in the bottom of the first inning, and then left the
game to retire.
felt like I was being kind of selfish," said Kruk. "All
I wanted to do was get a hit and leave."
hold on for two months for the money?" he said. "I really
appreciate the players and the coaches with the White Sox. Not
every player can quit the way they want to."
retirement, Kruk has acted, with a role in the movie 'The
Fan' with Robert DeNiro and Wesley Snipes, and written a book,
Ain't an Athlete, Lady...' : My Well-Rounded Life and Times.'
He opened (and later sold) a bar in West Virginia named "Third
Base"--the last stop before home. He spent time co-hosting
the Fox Sports Net's "Fantasy Baseball Weekly," co-hosting
"Best Damn Sports Show, Period.", and today is an analyst
for ESPN's Baseball Tonight (which is really about the only watchable
part of the show).
"I ain't an athlete, lady, I'm a baseball player."
being chosen an all-star starter:
"It's amazing that fans want to see me play. It's kind of
scary. I guess that's what's wrong with our society."
someone from Germany or somewhere, who had no idea what baseball
was, saw Kruk play, he'd wonder what the beer truck driver was
doing playing first base." Andy Van Slyke, Pirates outfielder,
his varied batting stances:
"I would think I drive most hitting coaches crazy. During
one single at-bat I used six different stances on six pitches.
Oh yeah, I also struck out. So what do I know?"
one of his infrequent diets:
"Don't worry. I can always put the weight back on. Quickly."
trailing the Dodgers, 11-3, in a game which the Phillies rallied
to win 12-11:
"At that point, all I'm thinking about is getting back to
the hotel before midnight, because that's when they close down
receiving a letter from the National League president for making
the All-Star team:
"It's the first letter I ever got from Bill White that wasn't
asking me to pay a fine. It's the first one that doesn't start
out, 'Please make check payable to...' "
the cerebral aspects of baseball:
"Hey, I don't know if you've been paying attention or not,
but this ain't nuclear physics."