John Kruk on David Letterman's show, 1993

Dave: You know, besides being one of the league's leading hitters, our next guest is also a three-time all-star. Ladies and gentlemen, take a look at him now, enjoying gum. [Clips of John chewing huge wads of gum on the field, blowing a bubble at the camera, etc.] There's a boy who loves his gum. Look at this man go, for a-yeah! Exactly. There he is. Ladies and gentlemen, from the Philadelphia Phillies, please welcome, number 29, John Kruk.

[John emerges to music and applause]

Dave: Well, John, first of all, first of all, thanks for fixing yourself up tonight. [John is wearing a black Steely Dan t-shirt and a Sawyer Brown baseball cap.]

John: We sat in there the other night after a game and had a couple of Diet Cokes with Steely Dan, and they told me to wear this shirt. And the week before it was Sawyer Brown.

D: You're a lucky man. Free clothing. That's why you're in professional athletics. Tell me about the gum. How much gum do you enjoy? Do you not use tobacco when you're playing?

J: Oh, I used to, but the dentist keeps pulling teeth, you gotta get rid of something. So I just figured the sugar was doing less damage than the tobacco. About probably 15, 20.

D: 15, 20 what?

J: Pieces of gum.

D: Pieces--a week?

J: No--ha, like the guy on the tape. [Dave laughs.]

D: You mean during the ballgame. Now how many do you start out with?

J: Four.

D: Four.

J: Four to start the game, four after our first inning, which with our pitchers it lasts a long time so the gum's usually pretty much gone by then.

D: So you take it out, you take the four out.

J: No, I keep it all in. [Crowd is appalled.] Superstition. If we're going good, I keep it in, if we're going bad I spit it out. Most of the time, it's-this year it's been in a lot. Last year I never really got a taste of any one piece.

D: You guys are having a great year though.

J: Yeah, so far.

D: You're gonna get that pennant fever, aren't you?

J: We're trying. The Expos don't want to cooperate with us.

D: What happened last night? Was last night the extra inning game?

J: Yeah, we had another one. We just couldn't score.

D: This was against the Rockies?

J: Uh, the Marlins.

D: Oh, the Florida Marlins.

J: Yeah, the big fish. We couldn't get a run.

D: Yeah. Do you like playing when you go to Denver? Do you like playing the Rockies?

J: Oh no.

D: What's the problem?

J: There's no air. I got a-I was on base, and there was a three and two count, two outs, so they made me run [Dave laughs]. And Dave Hollins kept fouling balls off, and I kept getting more tired, and I told the first base coach, I said, "I'm not going." And he said "Well you have to," and I said "The hell I do."

D: That's kind of the way the game is played I think, isn't it?

J: Yeah, but I was gonna bend the rules there for a while. So, then he hit a ball in the gap and I had to try to score. And I slid into home, but it wasn't really much of a slide because I had no momentum left, it was just kind of a stick. And I was safe, and Darren Daulton had to pick me up and help me back to the dugout.

D: That's an inspirational story for all you Little Leaguers out there. If you don't feel like running, you don't necessarily have to make the turn at first. Maybe it's the gum, maybe you just have too much gum in your head.

J: I think it blocked my throat.

D: We introduced you as number 29, and I know there's a story, you used to be, what was it, 28?

J: Well, which year?

D: Well, you tell me how you got to be 29.

J: I had number 28, and we made a trade for Mitch Williams. I saw where Rickey Henderson gave a guy $25,000 for a number; well, I got two cases of beer. So Mitch got number 28…

D: Why did he want 29?

J: He wanted 28.

D: He wanted 28, I'm sorry.

J: Because his wife had a bunch of jewelry with number 28 on it.

D: Oh, that's beautiful stuff. The big 28 earrings, a lovely touch.

J: The best part about it is now is, he got divorced, he wears number 99, and the two cases of beer are gone.

D: Oh, that's too bad.

J: It's a sad story. [crowd applauds]

D: When you're playing, I know, you mentioned superstitions, do you have rituals… take us through a game day for you John.

J: I usually get to the ballpark, probably for a 7:30 game, about 1 o'clock.

D: Is that when they want you there, they like you there a little earlier?

J: No, well, I don't know what time we have to be there really. Some guys show up whenever they want. I've always just like getting there early. And I wait for Larry Bowa to come in…

D: Larry Bowa the manager?

J: No, he's a coach now. Yeah, they had to get rid of him as the manager. But we talk trash for a long time. And then we play cards.

D: What kind of cards are you playing?

J: We play spades.

D: Spades?

J: Yeah. Apparently I suck at spades, because we play for a couple dollars and right now I'm broke.

D: Really? Now, you're teasing, you don't play for really big stakes, do you?

J: I think I'm down probably about $10,000 to him right now. Well, it's been a long season. And we play partners, and I don't have a partner anymore.

D: Will you get this money back?

J: I'm not paying him.

D: Well, I guess then really it's not gambling if you're not paying off.

J: I was glad you let me come on the show; I was going to see if I could get some money from you.

D: Yeah, well, we'll see what we can do. It's a good thing there's no commissioner right now John. We'll do a commercial here, we'll be right back with John Kruk from the Philadelphia Phillies.

[after commercial]

D: Thank you very much, John, like to see you in the Series. Say hello to all the folks out in Philadelphia. Good luck to you sir. [Says thanks to his other guests, including "the always angry Don Knotts," and signs off.]

Read the transcript of the 1992 appearance, or go back to the main page.