ST. LOUIS – It has been two decades since tragedy struck the St. Louis Cardinals and Major League Baseball.
On June 22, 2002, pitcher Darryl Kile for the St. Louis Cardinals died of a heart attack in a Chicago hotel. His sudden death came just four days after the Cardinals lost longtime broadcaster Jack Buck at the age of 77.
The Cardinals were scheduled to play the Chicago Cubs in a matinee at Wrigley Field. Team staff noticed Kile’s absence from the pre-game warm-up. This resulted in a delay from the game’s scheduled start time of 12:20 p.m., and the game was eventually rescheduled when the Cardinals learned of the tragedy.
During the day, a hotel worker entered Kile’s hotel room and found him dead in a bed. An autopsy later revealed that Kile died of a heart attack with 90% blockage in two coronary arteries.
FOX 2, which was scheduled to carry that day’s coverage of the Cardinals-Cubs as part of MLB in FOX’s coverage, learned of Kile’s death during the delay. While another MLB game aired in lieu of the expected matchup between the Cardinals and the Cubs, FOX 2 ran a crawl that read, “Chicago Medical Examiner Confirms St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Darryl Kile Has Died.” The circumstances are not yet known. tonight’s Cardinals/Cubs game has been cancelled.” Elliott Davis briefly provided a brief on-air cutaway, attached above, after FOX 2 confirmed these details of Kile’s death.
Moments later, former Cardinal and then-Cubs catcher Joe Giradi held back tears as he delivered an emotional message at Wrigley Field:
“Thank you for your patience. Due to tragedy in the Cardinals family, we are sorry to report that the commissioner canceled today’s game. … Please be respectful. You will eventually find out what happened. I ask that you offer a prayer for the family of the St. Louis Cardinals.”
FOX Sports broadcaster Joe Buck broke the news of Kile’s death on national television just days after his father’s death and Girardi’s announcement.
“The reason for the delay is that the Cardinals and Major League Baseball were trying to contact Darryl Kile’s wife,” Buck said on the air. “Flynn Kile was notified moments ago that her husband [Darryl Kile] was found dead in his hotel room this morning. So this game has been cancelled.”
The Cardinals and Cubs returned to action a night later after discussions with Kile’s family. From that point forward, the Cardinals wore a “DK57” patch in honor of their fallen teammate for the remainder of the season. The Cardinals also left Kile’s jersey hanging in the dugout for the remainder of the season as a tribute.
The Cardinals rallied behind a downed teammate and finished the 2002 MLB regular season with a 97-65 record and captured the NL Central Division title. Albert Pujols, then in his sophomore season with the Cardinals, wore Kile’s jersey in memory of their pitcher who fell on the field. The Cardinals’ 2002 season ended in a National League Championship Series loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Kile went 133-119 with a 4.12 ERA and 1,668 strikeouts in 12 MLB seasons with three MLB teams. These included a 41-24 record, a 3.72 ERA, and 421 strikeouts in his last three years with the Cardinals.
“Incredible teammate and person,” said former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, who described Kile as a close friend rolled into one Interview 2017 with Bally Sports Midwest. “Someone I always mention when someone asks what a teammate looks like. … The way he helped teach what Chris Carpenter accomplished, what Adam Wainwright accomplished and is now being passed down to the organization is invaluable.”
“This guy took me under his wing and really showed me what it means to be a pro, what it means to be a cardinal,” Rick Ankiel said in one Segment 2017 with Bally Sports Midwest. “He really held the clubhouse together. An amazing teammate in an amazing way.”
Cardinals rookie Zack Thompson, who debuted June 3, now wears number 57. He is the first Cardinals player to wear the number since Kile’s death.
https://fox2now.com/sports/st-louis-cardinals/remembering-darryl-kile-wednesday-marks-20-years-since-tragic-death/ Remembering Darryl Kile: Wednesday marks the 20th anniversary of his tragic death