PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Former Philadelphia Phillies catcher Darren Daulton enjoyed his return to the ballpark on Friday.
“Oh my God, all my friends are here,” Daulton said upon entering the press room at Citizens Bank Park.
Daulton, who is participating in the Phillies’ annual alumni weekend, spoke publicly for the first time since his brain cancer diagnosis a little over a month ago.
The 51-year-old, now a radio personality in Philadelphia, was diagnosed with two brain tumors in June.
Both were removed after brain surgery on July 1, but nine days later Daulton was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that also took the lives of his former teammate Tug McGraw and former coach John Vukovich.
“It was kind of surprising when it happened,” Daulton said. “I remember being on 97.5 The Fanatic with a show this season (and) there was a couple of appearances that showed up when I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I was having trouble explaining a little bit of baseball and when I’ve been doing this for 20 years of my life, it was a little difficult.”
Daulton had trouble pronouncing several words, a problem he admitted he has to deal with on a daily basis.
“I have a little bit of a problem during the day every now and then when I can’t understand what — I mean I know what I’m going on — but I can’t, I have a problem with talking to myself,” he said. “This eventually will get better.”
A 14-year major league veteran, Daulton spent nearly his entire career in Philadelphia before being traded to the Florida Marlins midway through the 1997 season, his final one.
Daulton and the Marlins went on to win the World Series — the only one of his career — but he still considers Philadelphia his home.
“It feels like it’s my family,” he said. “I really enjoy this, and this weekend we’re going to be a blast.”
A little more than an hour after the news conference, Daulton took in the induction of Curt Schilling into the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame.
Both Schilling and Daulton, a 2010 inductee, were members of Philadelphia’s 1993 National League pennant-winning team.