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John Kruk
First baseman / Outfielder
Born: February 9, 1961 (1961-02-09) (age 48)
Charleston, West Virginia
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
April 7, 1986 for the San Diego Padres
Last MLB appearance
July 30, 1995 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
Batting average     .300
Home runs     100
Run batted in     592
Teams
Career highlights and awards

John Martin Kruk (born February 9, 1961 in Handley, West Virginia) is an American former Major League Baseball player and current baseball analyst for ESPN.

Contents

Early life and career

Kruk was raised in Keyser, West Virginia in Mineral County, the state's Potomac Highlands. He played baseball at Keyser High School in Keyser, West Virginia, at Potomac State College, and at Allegany Community College. Kruk signed as a #3 Special Draft selection on June 13, 1981 with scout Hank Zacharias.[1] He began his professional career with the San Diego Padres after being drafted in 1981. He played in such outposts as Walla Walla, Reno, Beaumont, and Las Vegas, before making his debut with the Padres in 1986. In this same year he was part of the "Liga Mexicana del Pacifico" which is the Mexican Pacific League playing with the Mexicali Eagles. Kruk performed an outstanding role with the Mexicali Eagles, helping them to win both the League championship title and Caribbean Series Baseball Title. While at Allegany Community College Kruk played for Junior College Hall of Fame Coach Steve Bazarnic. Kruk was the first Major Leaguer to come out of Allegany and has since been followed by four others (Stan Belinda, Steve Kline, Joe Beimel and Scott Seabol).

Kruk's breakout year was 1987 with the Padres. He hit .313 with 20 home runs and 91 RBI, and stole 18 bases, showing surprising speed for someone of his build, although he was caught ten times, making his stealing of dubious effectiveness. He was featured as a backup on the National League All-Star Team in the acclaimed Nintendo game, RBI Baseball. On April 13, 1987, Marvell Wynne, Tony Gwynn, and Kruk became the first players in major league history to open a game with three consecutive solo home runs in a 13-6 win over the San Francisco Giants. All three players were left-handed.

That October, Kruk rented a house in San Diego with two other men: Roy Plummer, a high school friend of Kruk's, and Jay Shafer, an acquaintance of Plummer's.[2] They socialized and partied together, with Plummer almost always picking up the check.[2] Unbeknownst to Kruk, who moved out in November to play winter ball in Mexico, Plummer was funding the group's lifestyle by moonlighting as an armed robber, with Shafer serving as his getaway driver.[2] The FBI informed Kruk of his roommate's criminal activities during spring training in February 1988, approaching him before batting practice with a photo of Plummer taken during a bank robbery.[2] According to the FBI, Plummer believed that Kruk had turned him in to the police, and Kruk lived in fear of reprisal until Plummer was apprehended on September 19, 1988.[2] Kruk has claimed that the ongoing stress from the episode negatively affected his on-field performance that season.[2]

In May 1989, the Padres dealt Kruk, along with Randy Ready, to the Philadelphia Phillies for Chris James in what proved to be a lopsided trade.

Philadelphia Phillies

The portly outfielder was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1989 season, and he blossomed into an All-Star as the team used him primarily at first base. Kruk played in the All-Star Game in 1991, 1992, and 1993. In his 1993 appearance at the Midsummer Classic, he had a memorable at bat when he flailed wildly at 98 mile per hour fastballs from Seattle Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson. Johnson's initial pitch was so far inside and above his head that the intimidated Kruk (acting like he was about to have a heart attack) backed up nearly to the on-deck circle for the remainder of the at-bat.

Kruk, who batted .316/.430/.475 in 1993, was also the leader of the Phillies' "Macho Row" which led the team to the World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays; in the losing effort, Kruk batted .348/.500/.391 in the Series.

During spring training in 1994, Kruk was diagnosed with testicular cancer (ultimately resulting in the removal of one testicle) after an errant pickoff throw from teammate Mitch Williams hit him in the groin and broke his protective cup. Additionally, weight gain and the astroturf at Veterans Stadium exacerbated his knee problems. After the 1994 season, Kruk was granted free agency.

Chicago White Sox

Moving to the American League to serve as a designated hitter, Kruk signed with the Chicago White Sox. He was effective with the White Sox, batting .308/.399/.390, but he was tired of the game and, as he told the Chicago Tribune, he wanted to spend the rest of the year "eating at the Sizzler's buffet." On July 30, 1995, in a game at Baltimore's Camden Yards stadium, Kruk singled and took himself out of the game. He left the ballpark never to play again and is believed to be the only player to officially retire mid-game. He finished his 10-year career with exactly a .300 batting average and exactly 100 home runs.

Post-baseball activities

A quotable character throughout his career, who later wrote a book called I Ain't an Athlete, Lady published in 1994, Kruk turned to broadcasting and commenting on the game. He has since worked for Major League Baseball on Fox, The Best Damn Sports Show Period, and local telecasts in Philadelphia. In 2004, he was hired by ESPN as an analyst on Baseball Tonight. He also writes a column called Chewing the Fat on ESPN.com.

Kruk also managed for a year within the Phillies organization. He led the Phillies' AA minor league team in Reading, Pennsylvania during the 2000 season prior to his broadcasting career.

Kruk went on to have a few acting roles in film and television, including the 1996 film The Fan, The Sandlot: Heading Home, American Pastime, and the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Sirens," where he voiced himself. Kruk also appeared in the Sawyer Brown music video "Round Here."

Kruk has been a resident of Mount Laurel Township, New Jersey.[3]

He also appears in MLB on ESPN Commercials where Kruk himself is part of moments in baseball history; for example, an old briefcase belonging to Kruk buried in the infield dirt containing a rotten sandwich caused the bugs to attack Karl Ravech dressed up as Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain and distract him and allowed the Indians to win.

References

  1. ^ John Kruk 1988 Topps baseball card, card number 596.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Harki, Gary. "Baseball star John Kruk one of many fooled by bank robber", The Charleston Gazette, August 5, 2008.
  3. ^ Rys, Richard. "John Kruk", Philadelphia (magazine), June 2007. Accessed March 3, 2008. "Another surprise, at least to us, is that he lives in Mount Laurel, keeping such a low profile that Exit Interview didn’t even know he was still here."

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

John Kruk (born 1961-02-09) is an American former professional baseball player.

Sourced

  • My wife told me I'm not as disgusting to her as I used to be.
    • Nutrisystems for Men ad, promo code PAR1507.

Unsourced

  • No mascots on the field. Shoot anything that looked like it escaped from Sesame Street.
    • When asked how he would change the game

External links

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