"Even after I got drafted," he said, "I thought the whole thing was a cruel joke. I thought I'd wake up and it would be over."
Instead, it was just the beginning. Now he's one of ESPN's most popular analysts.
"After I retired from baseball, I was doing some stuff for the Phillies," Kruk said. "My agent called and said ESPN was looking for an analyst. I went for the audition and now I'm in my 11th year."
Understand that moving from the field to the media isn't always easy.
"I get in trouble sometimes," Kruk said. "Some players say, 'Why did you say that about me?' I tell them it's my job. Baseball fans are knowledgeable. They know when you're phoney."
Words, though, can be taken the wrong way.
"I was working with Orel Hershiser once and said I always hated Dodger Stadium," Kruk said. "I received all kinds of hate mail. Finally, I had to explain the reason I hated Dodger Stadium wasn't because of the park, but because, in the 1970's and '80s, they always had great pitchers there."
Kruk said working "Sunday Night Baseball" games has helped.
"You get a better feel for the players and they get a better feel for me," Kruk said. "To me it's about speaking the truth."
These days, Kruk lives in Naples, Fla., with his wife and kids. While visits to Charleston are few and far between now, he does get to Keyser "every chance I get."
He plays some golf there, particularly at Mill Creek Country Club. ("I took Mitch Williams there one day and we played like 54 holes," Kruk said. "Had a few beverages. It was a blast.")
Mostly, though, Kruk hits Keyser to visit his mother, Lena, who is now 92 years of age. His father passed away this past August.
This weekend, however, he's visiting the place where it all began.
"Maybe that's," he said, "where I get all my candor."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.