Phillies fans think of John Kruk as the loveable first-basemen-turned-broadcaster known for calling it how he sees it. But who among us knew Kruk has a sensitive side that is brought out through the power of music?
On the second episode of his Krukcast podcast (subscribe here), Kruk talks about his passions and hobbies away from baseball. Golf has filled his desire for competition and has turned into an "obsession." He plays up to 4-5 times a week when he can. If he doesn't get out on the golf course regularly, it affects him. So much so that his family went to Disney and bought him a Grumpy t-shirt to wear when he hasn't played in a while.
But golf as a hobby for a former baseball player isn't all that surprising. What former pro athlete doesn't golf? It's Kruk's more recently discovered passion that is unique.
Kruk has found a calling for music that has taken him to creative places and brought out his emotional side.
He credits it to his West Virginia roots and some friends he's recently met.
"Eight or nine years ago I met these guys back in West Virginia who I had a lot in common with from the get-go," Kruk says. "The first time I ever met them it was like I’ve known them forever. They’re third or fourth generation musicians in West Virginia and are one of the most popular country bands in the State -- the Davisson brothers, Chris and Donnie."
Kruk found himself doing a local television show and the Davisson brothers were the musical guests. They hung out backstage where the guitars were strumming.
"Of course anybody who has a guitar from West Virginia knows how to play 'Almost Heaven.' Everyone who lives in West Virginia pretty much knows the words to 'Almost Heaven.' They're playing and they ask me to sing with them. So I'm singing. Next thing I know they're teaching me how to play it on the guitar and it just hit me. As soon as it happened it was just like, 'Wow. This is really, really cool.'"
Kruk teamed up with the Davisson brothers on some tunes for ESPN and his Baseball Tonight show. Then he started to dabble in doing some writing of his own.
But how in the world did John Kruk come to write a song about Delaware basketball legend Elena Delle Donne?
"An interesting thing happened. I'm on Twitter, not a lot, just enough. I read a story about Elena Delle Donne who is arguably the greatest female basketball player in the world. She went to UCONN for a day or so, ended up leaving because she wanted to come home. She has a sister Lizzie with special needs. She wanted to move back so she ended up going to Delaware."
"When I read her story about her and her sister, it just hit me. There's a song there to be written. So I called my buddies the Davisson brothers. I said, 'Man, we gotta write this song.'"
They all decided it would be a fun thing to write despite it being a very serious subject.
Kruk then reached out to Elena and her brother Gene and they started an email correspondence about what Lizzie meant to them. Lizze was born deaf and blind, with cerebral palsy and autism.
"Elena swore that her 6-foot-5 size, she got everything Lizzie didn't get and so she plays and lives for Lizzie," Kruk says. "When I read the story, it just hit me, how people become who they are because of circumstances in their life."
And Kruk needed to write a song about it.
Fast forward to MLB's winter meetings in Nashville where Kruk found himself in his hotel room with songwriter Ronnie Bowman. They read through the emails from the Delle Donnes and started writing.
"It turned out beautiful," Kruk said. "When we got done, I felt like I was in a room with a bunch of rock stars. [Ronnie] stood up and he threw down his guitar and he said, 'Boys, we got a No. 1 hit!'"
So they wrote a potential hit song but they had nobody to sing it. This was the hard part.
"We have to find someone who is up and coming, has a powerful voice; we all agreed it had to be a female because the song is about the love of two sisters."
Again, Twitter proved to be helpful (which is just amazing).
"A young lady followed me. I listened to her music. I listened to her sing and I thought maybe she could be the one," Kruk says.
And she just so happened to be from Philadelphia.
The singer was Audra Mclaughlin who was on Season 6 of The Voice and was on Team Blake.
"I've met with her a couple times here at the ball park. Her dad said, 'when she played that song, they both cried because it's a very emotional song.' I know people are saying, 'John Kruk and emotion?!' I've never been emotional until I had kids."
The goal now is to get Audra down to Nashville to get the song recorded and released in order to, of course, propel her on to stardom.
As for Kruk? He doesn't want you to think differently of him because he's got a soft side. He contains multitudes.
"I blame the Davisson brothers for this because they brought this out of me."
"When I'm doing games that sensitivity goes out the window and I become that moronic ball player that lived and breathed everything Larry Bowa told me."
"I blame the Davisson brothers for being emotional and I'm gonna blame Larry Bowa for being that say-whatever-comes-to-your-mind type thing regardless of feelings."
Listen to the whole podcast below and subscribe here.