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Former MLB player, John Kruk, was born John Martin Kruk on February 9, 1961 in Handley, West Virginia. Kruk is an American former Major League Baseball player and current baseball analyst for ESPN.
John 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. 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. 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.
The portly outfielder was traded 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.
John 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 a 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.
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. He finished his 10-year career with exactly a .300 batting average and exactly 100 home runs.
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 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 also voiced himself in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Sirens."
Kruk played a baseball player in the 1996 film "The Fan", starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes.
Kruk has been a resident of Mount Laurel Township, New Jersey.
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 dress up as Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain and distract him and allowed the Indians to win.