KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Former All-Star catcher Darrell Porter, the Most Valuable Player of the 1982 World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, was found dead in a park in suburban Kansas City. He was 50.
Porter, 50, was found dead late Monday next to his car in La Benite Park.
An autopsy was conducted Tuesday but the cause and manner of death was not available, pending further investigation and lab work, Jackson County medical examiner Dr. Thomas Young said. He said there was no indication of foul play.
Herb Soule, chief of the suburban Sugar Creek police department, said Porter's car went off the right side of the road in the park and got caught on a tree stump.
"I'm sure he was trying to push (the car) off, and I'm sure with the high temperature the heat got to him," Soule said. The National Weather Service reported the high Monday in Kansas City was 97 degrees.
Former teammate Frank White remembered Porter as a serious and determined player, good to his family, involved in the community and a good Christian.
"He ran the show from behind the plate," said White, now the special assistant to the general manager for the Royals.
White said his fondest memory of Porter came before the 1977 All-Star break, with Kansas City 6 1/2 games behind Chicago. The Royals had just lost the first half of a doubleheader at Chicago when Porter addressed his teammates.
"He challenged everyone to play the way we knew how to play baseball," White recalled, "and we came back and won 16 games in a row, and then 102 for the year."
Porter grew up in Oklahoma City, where he was an all-state quarterback at Southeast High School in 1969 and the state's baseball player of the year in 1970. He signed to play football at Oklahoma but chose baseball.
He broke into the majors in 1971 with the Milwaukee Brewers, who traded him to the Royals after the 1976 season. He was an All-Star twice in his four years with Kansas City.
But he began abusing cocaine, Quaaludes, marijuana, and alcohol.
Porter once told The Associated Press that during the winter of 1979-80, his paranoia became so bad he was convinced that baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn knew of his drug involvement and was going to ban him for life.
Night after night, Porter said sat in the dark at an upstairs window overlooking his front drive and watched for Kuhn to sneak into his house. Porter -- a powerful thrower who for one season led AL catchers in percentage of runners thrown out -- clutched billiard balls and planned to hurl them at the commissioner if he approached.
Former major league pitcher Don Newcombe, who works with alcoholics and drug addicts, spoke to Royals players during spring training in 1980.
"He gave us about 10 questions and if you answered three of the questions with 'yes,' you probably had a problem with drugs or alcohol," Porter told students at Kansas City, Kan., Community College in May 2001. "I answered every one of them 'yes.' "
Porter left spring training that year and entered a drug rehabilitation clinic. He later chronicled his fight with addiction and recovery from it in a 1984 book, "Snap Me Perfect! The Darrell Porter Story."
"Drugs eventually destroyed my career and almost my life," Porter told the community college students. "I never came back and played at the same level again and I was only 28 years old."
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