By Rich Fisher
Aug. 8:Dave Gallagher is a Steinert High Hall of Famer, a former Mercer County Community College baseball standout, a veteran of nine Major League Baseball seasons and the owner of Dave Gallagher Baseball.
Most notably today, however, is that he was a teammate of Darren “Dutch” Daulton, who passed away from brain cancer Sunday night.
During those nine MLB seasons, Gallagher played for seven different teams, the last being the Phillies in 1995. He played just 62 games with Philadelphia before returning to the Angels (where he had played previously). But in that short time, he became amazed at just how great a clubhouse leader Darren “Dutch” Daulton was.
When Daulton passed away, Gallagher provided Fish4scores/Trentonian writer Rich Fisher on his recollections of Dutch, including a fight the two had in the minor leagues that never deterred Daulton from asking the clubhouse manager to give Gallagher the locker next to his when he arrived at Veterans Stadium. Click this link to Trentonian Story!
Here are some excerpts of Gallagher’s interview:
On Daulton’s unselfish, team-first attitude:
Jim Fregosi was the manager and I noticed he had one day off a week and he got to pick the day. I watched this as the months go by. I’m thinking ‘Most catchers, when they pick the day off, they’re picking it when the other team’s ace pitches.’ That’s not what he did, he did the opposite.
I asked him one day, ‘I noticed you take your one day off a week against the other team’s fifth starter, can I ask you why you do that?’ He said ‘Well, I’m not having a really good year but I am supposed to be the number one catcher so I think that gives us the best chance if I’m in the lineup.
“But at one point or another if we’re going to be a championship team, we’re going to need Lenny Webster, who was the back-up catcher. He said, “Do I really want to take Lenny’s one start a week and throw him in against the other team’s ace?” So I just thought “God, that’s the most selfless thing I’ve heard from a teammate.”
On Daulton taking charge
I’ve seen him cut in front a couple of players – Mariano Duncan is one of them. We’re on the road, he tweaks his hamstring – tweaked it is what he said. That meant Mickey Morandini would have to face two left-handed starters. Mickey wasn’t complaining, he was just doing it. But that was supposed to be a platoon situation between Duncan and Morandini.
Daulton kind of called him out and said ‘You can’t go?’ And Duncan looked up at him and said ‘Dutch. . .” and he said ‘Dunc, you’re throwing Mickey up against two tough lefties.” And Duncan played. So everything he did was geared toward the team winning games.
On what Gallagher learned from watching Daulton
“I learned that he controlled that team. If you would ask any manger, that’s what a manager would prefer. That a clubhouse and a team itself is controlled by a leader in that clubhouse. There’s never any more meaning when it comes from your teammate. The best manager in the game, it’s hard for them to be a complete leader in the clubhouse. They’ll make the on-field decisions, but if it comes from a respected player everybody gets in line.
I’ve just read over the last day and a half some of the tweets guys are doing and it’s repeated by every player about Daulton’s leadership. (Former Marlin) Jeff Conine said he played one year with them and his comment was ‘He came over here and immediately took control of the team in the clubhouse (and the Marlins won the World Series). Anybody that played with him . . .it was real.
On Daulton’s unselfish, team-first attitude Part 2
I played with a guy, I won’t mention his name, no sense bashing him, but at the time I thought this player was the best leader I ever played with until he didn’t get the contract he wanted. Then he started to purposely sit out games and say he had a headache. In the clubhouse, we all knew he was just mad at ownership and to me, he lost a ton of respect. At that point, it became about him and not about us.
That’s something I never saw Daulton do. He could be 0-for-4. But when he came in to put his gear on after taking his at-bats, he slapped the gear on and flipped the switch. He was now catching the pitcher and trying to call the right pitches and trying to win the game. I can’t describe it any better. That was him, that was who he was. He made it team first without a doubt.
On Daulton’s strange behavior in the early 2000s
He had some issues when he first retired that were scary. It was getting strange. I was getting worried. I knew him. . .and I worried about what caused this? What brought this on? To this day, I don’t know. It could have been the onset of the issues he ended up dying from, I don’t know
Gallagher’s emotions on hearing of Daulton’s death
I got caught off guard. I knew he had been sick but I thought he kind of got past it. It really did surprise and shock me.
Gallagher’s overall impression of Daulton
It’s not like I played 10 years for the Phillies, I played that one year in 1995, but the impression he made on me – and I said it before he was sick, and I say it truly as a compliment to him – there’s not a lot of good reasons to say you played on seven different teams. But to get to the Phillies and see the best leader I ever saw was a plus. It was him, there’s never even a second choice for me. The respect that he got from his teammates — and he knew how to do that, he knew how to lead and he definitely did it the right way.