Kruk admits the stress affected his play during the 1988 baseball season.
"Oh-for-four meant absolutely nothing to me at that time," Kruk said. "The only thing I wanted was to get the season over with."
The only teammate who knew about Plummer was Randy Ready, Kruk's best friend on the Padres.
"I never went out that year," Kruk said. "I stayed in my room. It was a scary thing. ... The FBI tells me he's armed and he's dangerous. And I know his abilities with weapons."
Plummer, a self-styled survivalist, boasted that he could survive in the wilderness with just a knife. He also liked his guns.
When the FBI finally arrested Plummer on Sept. 19, 1988, Kruk said he was relieved that it was over, but also saddened by his friend's problems.
"I was shocked that he robbed banks, but I was also shocked that he had a drug habit," Kruk said. "He was so physically fit and into taking care of his body and doing the right things. ... It was a mystery, the whole thing."
Kruk was relieved he didn't have to run anymore and could stay in his own house and stop living out of hotel rooms.
A few months into his prison sentence, Plummer called Kruk and apologized. It was the last time the two friends would talk.
"He said he had issues with drugs, whatever, and was actually glad he was in prison," Kruk said. "We talked for a long time. He apologized, said he was sorry and hoped he didn't ruin my career. I said, 'Man, I can figure out a way to hit again. You got to figure out how to straighten your life around. If I don't get another hit, I still have my sanity and freedom.'"
Kruk said Plummer promised that when he got out, the two would meet up and talk.
Kruk said his mom called from Keyser in January and told him Plummer killed himself.
While he never talked to Plummer after the prison phone call, Kruk had heard Plummer was out and working on his sister's farm. He had hoped to one day sit down and talk with him.
Kruk told management at ESPN, where he now works as a baseball analyst, about Plummer and that he might be connected to a story dealing with a bank robber, drugs and suicide.
"It's never over for us," he said about those who knew Plummer. "We have to live with it. You always have to answer those questions."
Reach Gary Harki at gha...@wvgazette.com or 348-5163.
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