Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame: Remembering former major league catcher Darrell Porter

Cocaine robbed Darrell Porter’s family of more time to spend with him, but they choose to remember how he lived, not how he died.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 3, 2014
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photo -  
                 St. Louis Cardinals catcher Darrell Porter reaches out to shake hands with the crowd during a victory parade through downtown St. Louis on Oct. 21, 1982. Porter was named the NLCS and World Series Most Valuable Player. The Cardinals beat the Brewers in seven games in the Series. 
                   AP Photo
St. Louis Cardinals catcher Darrell Porter reaches out to shake hands with the crowd during a victory parade through downtown St. Louis on Oct. 21, 1982. Porter was named the NLCS and World Series Most Valuable Player. The Cardinals beat the Brewers in seven games in the Series. AP Photo

Better. Not bitter.

That’s what happened to Darrell Porter’s family after his tragic death 12 years ago. His three children, who ranged in age from 14 to 20 when Porter died at 50 of a cocaine overdose, today are thriving adults who don’t so much remember how their father died, but rather how he lived.

“I know he would be so proud of his kids,” said Deanne Porter, Darrell’s widow. “They are wonderful people, they’ve done very well, given the adversity of his death. They became better people, not bitter people, and I know he would be extremely proud of them.”

The Porter clan will be in Oklahoma City on Monday to celebrate Darrell’s induction into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. Darrell Porter is one of the greatest athletes in OKC history. Signed in 1970 by OU as a quarterback out of Southeast High School and taken fourth overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1970 amateur draft, Porter chose baseball.

Good pick. He was in the major leagues by 1971, a starting catcher by 1973, a pennant winner with the Royals in 1980 and the World Series Most Valuable Player with the Cardinals in 1982.

But a drug addiction plagued Porter through much of his playing days. He wrote about it in his 1984 biography, “Snap Me Perfect”. Porter had been sober for more than 20 years before the relapse that cost him his life.

Still, his children say that their feelings of being cheated out of more time with their father are countered by the times they did have.

“Definitely a combination of both,” said Ryan Porter, 26. “I think there are things I missed out on, because he wasn’t here. Like I said, I was blessed that I got to hang out with him while he was alive. I understand the circumstances. I understand what happened. It’s a bummer. It’s an easy trap to fall into, ‘I got cheated out of this.’

“But when it comes down to it, the years I got to spend with my dad, and my family got to spend with him, they were good years. Obviously, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They were very special to me.”

Daughter Lindsey was 20 when her father died. “At first, you just kind of survive,” she said. “Once you get past the shock, you look back and survey. I think all of us feel we had such a wonderful relationship with our dad. He loved us all unconditionally.

“We have so many great memories, we feel so blessed about the time we had with him. There’s still many days go by I wish he was still here, hear his voice, feel his hug, but faith was a huge part of my dad’s life. He instilled that in all of us kids. Our faith allowed us to cope as well as we could with his death.”

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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