Kile's impact felt five years later
Cardinals starter was a cherished friend, teammate
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
Cardinals fans created a memorial outside of Busch Stadium for Darryl Kile.
ST. LOUIS -- The tattoo on Jim Edmonds' wrist reminds him every day, five years later, of what he and his Cardinals teammates lost on June 22, 2002. Edmonds, the dean of the roster, has the simple ink inscription "DK 57" on the inside of his right wrist. Not that he needs to be reminded.
Edmonds remembers his old teammate constantly, as do Jason Isringhausen, Matt Morris and Woody Williams. Manager Tony La Russa has a Kile jersey on a bookshelf in his office in new Busch Stadium. Kile's widow, Flynn, and his children still visit the club on occasion, and son Kannon remains a good-luck charm for the Cards.
Kile's number and initials adorn the bullpen, and his name is on one of the team's most prestigious annual awards. The Darryl Kile Award is voted on by players and awarded by St. Louis' baseball writers. It recognizes the Cardinal who best exemplifies Kile's qualities as "a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man."
To his teammates and friends, Kile was a towering presence. He made them laugh, and he made them take notice. He bridged gaps on the roster, between starters and relievers, and between pitchers and hitters.
Friday marks the fifth anniversary of Kile's death. His presence is still felt at Busch Stadium, even though it's not even the same stadium where he played.
"The memories are so fresh that it feels like it was much more recent than that," said La Russa.
"He was a really good guy, but he was a really good teammate," Edmonds said. "He was a teacher. He was a leader. He was like a captain. He was a guy who all the young pitchers went to. He was a guy who would rally the troops for the national anthem or a bullpen session or whatever."
"He was one of those unique people that had the personality that you couldn't help to love him," Edmonds said. "He was a character. He was a great parent and family man. You could see the genuine person that he was, day in and day out. He was very open about his wife and his kids. Some people are married. He was excited to be married and excited to be in love with his wife."
Edmonds is one of three Cardinals remaining on the team from the day Kile died, along with Isringhausen and Albert Pujols. He is the only one who played on all three of Kile's Cardinals teams with him.
"It's been five years, but it doesn't seem like five years," Isringhausen said. "It seems like last week, and the same with Josh. Sometimes with Josh, I think, 'Oh, he got sent down.' It hasn't really sunk in that he's not coming back."
So when Hancock died in a crash soon after, the memories had already been stirred from the back of the brain. Isringhausen drew on his recollections of Kile in helping his young teammates cope with the second loss.
"I just tried to get everybody through it," Isringhausen said. "They tried to ask me questions, like 'What are we supposed to do?' I said, 'Well, what do you think Josh would want you to do?'
"Darryl's big thing was that he never missed a start. And Josh was a guy that took on all tasks, the same way Darryl was. That's what he'd want us to do, and that's what I told them. 'Do you think he'd want you to just lie down and not do anything? No. He'd want you to go out and pitch better.'"
The Official Site of The St. Louis Cardinals: News: St. Louis Cardinals News
man it seems like yesterday this happened.. RIP DK.. I remember this day.. not so much when Jack Buck passed away but I remember getting ready to watch our game against the Cubs on Fox.. I think I had ESPNEWS on or ESPN and found out before the Fox broadcast started..