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Darryl Andrew Kile (December 2, 1968 – June 22, 2002) was an Americanmarker right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for three National League teams, the last being the St. Louis Cardinals. In his first season for the Cardinals, he won 20 games in 2000 as the team reached the postseason for the first time in four years, and they again advanced to the playoffs in the next two seasons. Kile, known for his sharp, big-breaking curveball, died of coronary disease in Chicagomarker, where he and the Cardinals were staying for a weekend series against the Chicago Cubs. He was the first active major league player to die during the regular season since the New York Yankees' Thurman Munson died in an aviation accident in 1979. The cause of death was attributed to a 90% blockage in two coronary arteries.

Biography

Houston Astros

Kile was selected by the Houston Astros in the 30th round of the 1987 Major League draft. Having been successful with the Tucson Toros (the Astros' AAA club) in the Pacific Coast League, Kile entered the majors in 1991, going 7–11 in 22 starts. In his very first big league start, on April 24, 1991, Kile had a no-hitter going when he was lifted after six innings by manager Art Howe, who wanted to protect the 22-year-old rookie's arm. (Astro relief pitcher Curt Schilling gave up a single in the ninth inning to lose the no-hit bid.) Kile's breakthrough year came in 1993 when he went 15–8 with a 3.51 earned run average and made the All-Star team. On September 8 of that year, Kile finally got his no-hitter, blanking the New York Mets. He pitched seven seasons with the Astros, mostly as a starter. Another strong season was 1997, when he went 19–7, compiled a 2.57 ERA, made the All-Star team again, threw a career-high 255-2/3 innings, and pitched four shutouts. He finished fifth in voting for the NL Cy Young Award. Kile made his first postseason appearance in Game 1 of the 1997 National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, giving up only two hits but suffering a hard-luck 2–1 loss. Atlanta swept Houston in the best-of-five series.

Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals

In 1998 Kile signed with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent, but the mental and physical difficulties of pitching in the thin, dry air of Denver caused Kile to suffer control problems, allowing hitters to lay off his nasty curveball. After two seasons in which he was a combined 21-30 and posted ERAs of 5.20 and 6.61, Kile was traded to the Cardinals. In his first season with St. Louis, Kile went 20-9, becoming the first Cardinal pitcher since John Tudor and Joaquín Andújar in 1985 to win twenty games in a season. He made his third All-Star team and again finished fifth in NL Cy Young Award voting. He won the first playoff victory of his career in Game 2 of the 2000 NLDS against Atlanta, but suffered two losses in the NL Championship Series, which the Cardinals lost to the Mets in five games.

Kile went 16-11 in 2001, and the Cardinals made the playoffs again, losing to the eventual world champion Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS. (Kile got a no-decision in his Game 3 start). Kile threw 227-1/3 innings and compiled a 3.09 ERA that season, despite having an injured shoulder which required surgery after the Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs. He spent the offseason rehabbing and was ready for the start of the 2002 season. In twelve seasons as a major league pitcher, Kile never once went on the disabled list.

On June 18, Kile pitched in an interleague game against the Anaheim Angels, scattering six hits over seven and two-thirds innings, allowing one run. He exited the game in the eighth inning to a standing ovation. Kile and the Cardinals won the game, 7-2, and moved into first place in the NL's Central Division, a spot they would hold on to for the rest of the 2002 season. That same day, longtime Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck died.

Death

On June 22, during pregame warmups for what would have been a day game in Chicago against the rival Cubs, team personnel noted Kile's absence. Hotel staff entered Kile's room and discovered him in his bed, under the covers, dead of a heart attack.

The details leading up to and following Kile's death are detailed to some degree in Buzz Bissinger's book, "Three Nights in August." An entire chapter is dedicated to Kile and the legacy he left behind.

Cubs catcher Joe Girardi announced to the fans at Wrigley Fieldmarker that the afternoon's game versus the Cardinals had been canceled, though he did not announce that the cancellation was prompted by Kile's death. Girardi tearfully gave the news at 2:37 p.m. CDT, broadcast regionally on Fox: "I thank you for your patience. We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinal family, that the commissioner has canceled the game today. Please be respectful. You will find out eventually what has happened, and I ask that you say a prayer for the St. Louis Cardinals' family." The game was rescheduled and made up later in the year on August 31, a 10-4 Cardinals victory. Later that season, when the Cardinals clinched the Central Division championship in a game against Kile's original team, the Astros, teammate Albert Pujols carried out Kile's #57 jersey, on a hanger, to the celebration on the field. Kile was survived by his wife, Flynn, his twin children, daughter Sierra and son Kannon, and son Ryker.

Memorials

The Cardinals honored his memory by placing a small "DK 57" sign in the home bullpen, (which was carried over to the new Busch Stadiummarker and remains today), and by writing "DK 57" on their hats. The team also put chalk and markers in the Busch Stadium concourses so fans could write similar messages on their caps, and the comic strip Get Fuzzy briefly showed its main character Rob Wilco wearing a hat with that inscription.

The Houston Astros also honored the memory of Darryl Kile with a memorial plaque that hangs along the left field wall at Minute Maid Park under the 1997 Central Division Championship banner, the last season he played for Houston before signing with Colorado. The white, circular plaque is 3 feet in diameter and bears Kile's initials "DK", which was his nickname among players and fans, in black writing.

The Colorado Rockies also have a memorial near the bullpens. It is circular, says "DK 57" and is on pinstripes.

The Darryl Kile (Good Guy) Award is presented annually to the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals player who best exemplifies Kile's traits of "a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man." It is awarded at the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner and is voted on by the players' teammates. The first recipient of the award on the Astros was Jeff Bagwell, who shared his rookie year in the majors on the Astros with Kile in 1991.

Kile was given an exemption by the Baseball Writers Association of America and placed on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Famemarker in 2003. However, with only seven votes, he was eliminated from future BBWAA ballot consideration.

Career statistics

W L G GS CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA
133 119 359 331 28 9 0 2165.3 2135 992 214 918 1668 4.12


See also



References

  1. Retrosheet Boxscore: Houston Astros 7, New York Mets 1


Further reading

  • Contains a chapter about Darryl Kile and his death in 2002. See Excerpt at National Public Radio.


External links




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