CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- John Kruk is returning to where it all started.
At least for him.
On Saturday, Kruk, a three-time Major League baseball all-star and current ESPN "Baseball Tonight" analyst, will visit his birthplace of Charleston to host the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Cultural Center theater.
You might ask how Kruk, one of baseball's all-time most colorful characters, wound up as a host to a musical Hall of Fame show.
"Good question," he said in an interview with the Gazette. "I wish I had a really good answer. But I'm good friends with the Davisson Brothers Band. Someone contacted them and asked if they thought I'd do it. I said, 'Why not? Sounds like fun.'
"Then I found out a lot of the show won't be scripted. It's hard to tell where it will go if I ad-lib."
More than likely, it will be entertaining if history is a guide. In the 1993 All-Star game, Kruk faced hard-throwing lefty Randy Johnson, who sailed a fastball over Kruk's head on the first pitch. Afterward, Kruk bailed on pitches and quickly struck out. His body language made for one of the game's all-time great moments.
"When I stepped in the box, I said all I want to do is make contact," Kruk said at the time. "After the first pitch, I said all I want to do is live. And I lived. So it was a good at-bat."
Kruk is almost as famous for his quotes as his career .300 batting average with San Diego, Philadelphia and the Chicago White Sox. Among the most memorable quotes was this gem to a fan: "I ain't an athlete, lady. I'm a baseball player."
After his friend, Mitch Williams, blew a save that led to a six-hour game, Kruk said, "I wanted to kill Mitch. But they told me I couldn't because it's illegal."
Kruk's West Virginia roots run deep. His father, Moe, was an outstanding athlete at Charleston Catholic who went on to work in Charleston at an Owens-Illinois glass plant.
"Dad was transferred from there and we went to New Jersey," John said. "But I remember to this day that he couldn't wait to get back to West Virginia."
Moe Kruk finally got his wish, landing a mold-making job with Anchor Glass in Keyser, where John was raised. The younger Kruk played ball for Keyser High, Potomac State and then Allegany [Md.] Community College.
"After I got into the minor leagues," Kruk said, "I told my dad I was quitting baseball. I said, 'These guys are too good. They throw 95 miles an hour with movement on their pitches.'
"He told me to work a day with him. I did and said, 'This sucks.' I said I'd figure out the pitches."
Kruk played 10 seasons in the majors.