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Archive for Sunday, June 23, 2002

Major leagues jolted by loss of Kile

June 23, 2002

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The stunning death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile brought even baseball's toughest guys to tears Saturday.

"I think we've all heard what he was like as a teammate, and it's all true," Colorado slugger Larry Walker said as he dabbed his eyes. "He was a great guy, was in a good mood all the time and was a professional at everything in life. It's going to be hard to deal with."

Kile was found dead Saturday at the team hotel, Chicago police said. He was 33. The pitcher apparently died from natural causes and was found in his bed.

It was a devastating loss for Cardinals fans, who lost longtime broadcaster Jack Buck, 77, on Tuesday.

"It's like a dark cloud is hanging over this city right now," Ron Noll said at the makeshift shrine to Buck outside Busch Stadium.

There were moments of silence for Kile at ballparks all around the majors. Montreal and Philadelphia paid tribute to the pitcher on their scoreboards.

Cincinnati's clubhouse went silent, and stunned players sat in front of their lockers with stony faces as television sets brought the news. The team called off batting practice.

"Even though he's not on the team, you can relate to what they're going through," Ken Griffey Jr. said. "Today baseball lost a good guy."

Walker, who played with Kile for two seasons in Colorado, broke down several times during a brief news conference before the Rockies' game against Tampa Bay. Colorado pitcher Mike Hampton, a teammate of Kile's in Houston, was too emotional to speak and stayed in the clubhouse.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jason Bere was scheduled to pitch against Kile and the Cardinals on tonight.

"It's just shock," Bere said. "He's 33 with three kids.

"I'm 31 with two kids. I can't imagine what that phone call to his wife was like. Just devastating. It's a tragedy."

The Cardinals' game against Chicago at Wrigley Field was called off by commissioner Bud Selig. Other games went on, but players took the field with heavy hearts.

"Our hearts are broken," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said with tears in his eyes.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Flynn Kile and her children, and Darryl's family."

All flags were lowered at Minute Maid Park before Houston's game against the Seattle Mariners.

Kile's Astros jersey No. 57 hung in the Houston dugout where he played from 1991 to 1997.

Art Howe was Kile's first big league manager with Houston.

"Tragic, tragic news," said Howe, now manager of Oakland. "Just unbelievable. He pitched for me when he was a kid. He was just a fine young man."

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