Culinary Cardinals: Darrell Porter’s Twenty-Four Hour Fruit Salad

darrell-porter-04Darrell Porter was my idol for a few years when I was a kid because he and I both wore glasses and played catcher. I tried to play with the same intensity and hang tough during plays at the plate. I’ll never forget the time our flight landed at Lambert International Airport in St Louis at the same time as the Cardinals’ flight, and we saw so many Cardinals players waiting around in the baggage claim area (“Stars! They’re just like us!”). While my dad got our bags, I stared at Darrell who was just sitting there waiting. He looked kinda nerdy and just like a regular human. I was 10 years old and too shy to approach him. But seeing him from a perspective that wasn’t from the upper deck of Busch Stadium or through the television blew my mind.

Darrell was a big hero for the 1982 World Series Champion Cardinals, earning the MVP awards for both the National League Championship Series and the World Series. He had a sixteen-year career in the major leagues. Here’s a highlight from the 1982 World Series.

Yes, The 80s were good times for Darrell and his family. How better to “celebrate good times” (like the Cardinals’ “Celebration” theme song suggested) than with fruit salad with extra sugar? Darrell’s wife Deanne contributed five recipes to Cooking with the Cardinals including this one for Twenty-Four Hour Fruit Salad.

1 lb red grapes, seeded
1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks or tidbits
1 small package miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Mix all together and add the dressing.

2 egg yolks
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 cup whipping cream

Mix egg yolks, milk, and dry mustard together in saucepan; cook over very low heat until of a thin custard consistency. Whip cream while custard cools. Combine custard and whipped cream. Add to fruit, and mix. Refrigerate overnight.

IMG_3603I substituted Cool Whip for real whipping cream, since I already had to use Cool Whip for Jack Clark’s Cake, and I made both recipes the same day.  This fruit salad was simple to make with the custard being the only tricky part. I don’t feel my custard got very thick – maybe because I used low-fat milk.

I mixed this all together in a large bowl and refrigerated it overnight as directed. It tasted okay, and it probably should be named “Twenty-Four Hour Ambrosia.” Honestly, I think grapes and pineapple are sweet enough that one doesn’t need to add marshmallows and custard to them.  It sucks the healthiness out of eating fruit. But I’m sure this fruit salad wasn’t on Darrell’s training table – more likely, it was a dish to be enjoyed in the off-season.  And it’s a dish that gets picky kids to eat their fruit.


Before joining the Cardinals, Darrell admitted his substance abuse problems and went to rehab in 1980. He became a born-again Christian and met Deanne soon afterward. Deanne was a legal secretary and didn’t know Darrell was a baseball player when they met. They continued to reside in Kansas City even when he was playing for the Cardinals. Deanne and Darrell had three kids (but only two kids when the photo for this book was taken). His sons Ryan and Jeff both played baseball in college, although they say their dad never pressured them. Deanne and Darrell were together until his death. He chronicled his career and substance issues in an autobiography called Snap Me Perfect! and often did public speaking engagements to encourage sobriety.

Darrel’s old demons contributed to his premature death in 2002. He was just 50 years old. He had cocaine in his system but died from “excited delirium” – that stopped his heart. It’s believed he may have overheated and that he may have had an enlarged heart due to his drug use. His family said he had been clean for 22 years before relapsing.

In an MLB News story, the Porter family looked back on Darrell’s life and remembered the good times. “He was a great father and he was a good person, and we do remember that,” Deanne said. “We’re sad that he’s gone, sad with the circumstances, particularly, in which he lost his life. But we remember the good things and the fun things.” Twenty-Four Hour Fruit Salad is one of the fun things.




Culinary Cardinals: Jack Clark’s Cake

Jack Clark is one of my all-time favorite Cardinals, and I had a huge crush on him during his mid-80s heyday.  I suppose it was his brooding intensity and home run prowess that drew me in as a pre-teen and helped me overlook the unibrow. Even though he looks kind of like Tony Soprano these days, I still find him sexy (or maybe it’s because he looks like Tony Soprano).

I can’t make excuses for some of his self-destructive and Pujols-destructive antics over the years, but I will always have a soft spot for him.  So when I came across the recipe for “Clark’s Cake,” I was eager to try it out. It’s the only recipe that Jack’s wife Tammy contributed to Cooking with the Cardinals.

Here’s the recipe as written by Tammy Clark…

1 box white cake mix (Duncan Hines or Pillsbury)
1 cup sugar
1 can (6 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
1 box (4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
1 cup sour cream
1 12 oz container Cool Whip
Coconut (optional)

Make cake according to package directions in a 9″ x 13″ pan. While cake is cooling, heat sugar and pineapple until sugar is dissolved. Pour over cake. Prepare pudding as directed on box. Add sour cream; mix together. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Pour over cake. Spread Cool Whip over top; sprinkle coconut on topping, if desired. Refrigerate.

This was super-easy to make. Cooking with the Cardinals was written in 1985, and one issue I’m experiencing with these older recipes is that the package measurements today aren’t always the same. I used a 5.1 oz pudding and didn’t remove the extra 1.1 oz, so my cake got a little sloppy with too much pudding. But can one ever really have too much pudding? You can see in the photo that the pudding almost oozed over the edges of the pan.


IMG_3586I felt the cake was pretty tasty and rather light, but I can’t say I loved it so much that I would make it again. My boyfriend really enjoyed it, as did a neighbor who called it “Delicioso!”  It is a good cake to bring to a summer BBQ and tastes sort of like a pineapple upside down cake or maybe a pineapple trifle. The sour cream gives the cake a hint of a cheesecake flavor. I think it tasted better the day after I made it, so it’s definitely a cake you could make a day before your party. It tastes better than it looks.

The name “Clark’s Cake” is certainly not very descriptive.  I’d call it “Clark’s Pineapple Power Cake” with the tag line: “Crush that pineapple the way Jack crushed the baseball!”

Jack and Tammy met in a pharmacy and married in 1979. They have three kids: Rebekah, Danika, and Anthony.


In this Rick Reilly profile from 1991, Tammy said that when Jack got riled up, his eyebrows got darker. I guess his eyebrows got pretty dark when they divorced in 1992. This Riverfront Times story from 2005 talks a lot about Jack’s hard times and his return to baseball, as he was the hitting coach for the River City Rascals at the time. He was the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2001-03 and managed the Springfield Sliders in 2009. In recent years, he’s done some radio broadcasting and a lot of autograph signings.

I prefer to think of Jack’s glory days. Let’s relive this moment and enjoy some cake!