Daulton was the heartbeat of that rowdy, irascible group, one of those rare collections of players who form a deep and lasting connection with their fans despite losing in the end. Like the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, the 1984 Chicago Cubs and the 1995 Seattle Mariners, those Phillies reached a peak for a franchise more used to valleys.
The Phillies lost the World Series to Toronto in six games. The final pitch never found Daulton’s glove. Joe Carter, the Blue Jays slugger, drove it over the left-field fence to win the title.
It was an oddly fitting end to the Phillies’ story. The Blue Jays, defending champions with three Hall of Famers, had far more talent. Clearly, the better team won. Yet the Phillies crashed and burned in a way that only they could. This was not a group destined to simply fade away.
“After that team, for all of us, baseball changed forever,” starter Curt Schilling said on Monday. “It’s like that time of your life when you realize: That was the greatest year of my life. You just know it’s never going to be that way again.”
Schilling would go on to have the best career of anyone from that Phillies team. It was his fourth organization, and Daulton was the first field general to get through to him, to make him understand, he said, “the intelligent, simpler side of the game.” If a player as serious as Daulton believed Schilling was good enough to dominate, he knew he did not need to complicate things any more.
“There’s no question in my mind that I don’t have the career I had without him,” Schilling said. “I never played with anybody like him again.”
Schilling would win three World Series, earning a reputation as one of the finest postseason pitchers ever. It was Daulton who guided him through his first voyage, when Schilling throttled the Braves and then saved the Phillies from elimination in the World Series.
In the fourth game against Toronto, the Phillies had blown a big lead and lost, 15-14, in the highest-scoring game in World Series history. They trailed, three games to one, the same hole they had faced against Baltimore a decade earlier, when Daulton was a nonroster rookie.
The Phillies lost then and…