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Cardinals mourn again

St. Louis pitcher Darryl Kile, 33, dies in his hotel room in Chicago, apparently of natural causes, just days after longtime broadcaster Jack Buck.

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 23, 2002

St. Louis pitcher Darryl Kile, 33, dies in his hotel room in Chicago, apparently of natural causes, just days after longtime broadcaster Jack Buck.

CHICAGO -- Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile was found dead at the team hotel Saturday, Chicago police said. He was 33.

Mr. Kile apparently died from natural causes and was found in his bed, said Michael Chasen, commanding officer of the police's Area Three Homicide. There were no signs of forced entry and no signs of foul play, he said.

"It appears he died in his bed, in his sleep," Chasen said.

Jim Loomis, the St. Louis assistant team physician, said the 6-foot-5 pitcher showed no health problems during a routine physical in spring training.

Loomis said he knew of no history of heart problems for Mr. Kile and said the pitcher was not on medication. Mr. Kile's father died shortly after a heart attack in his mid 40s in 1993.

An autopsy was planned for today.

The Cardinals' game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday was called off by commissioner Bud Selig.

"Our club is just totally staggered, I mean, devastated," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said, wiping away tears. "You guys know what a pro he is."

Cubs officials asked team captain and player representative Joe Girardi to make the announcement. As he stepped to a microphone stand near the Chicago dugout, his teammates formed three lines behind him.

"We wanted to do something that conveyed the solemnity of the situation," general manager Andy MacPhail said. Manager Don Baylor "thought it was a good idea to have the whole team (stand) behind Joe in their home whites as a show of unity."

Girardi's voice quivered with emotion as he made the announcement at 3:37 p.m.

"Thanks for your patience," Girardi said. "I regret to inform you that because of a tragedy in the Cardinals' family, today's game has been canceled."

Most of the fans remained silent, but there was a small smattering of boos.

"Please be respectful when you find out eventually what has happened," Girardi said. "I ask that you say a prayer for the St. Louis Cardinal family."

It was the second death in the organization in a week.

Mr. Kile pitched the Cardinals into first place in the NL Central on Tuesday, the same night longtime broadcaster Jack Buck died at 77 after a long illness.

"This has been a very difficult week with the loss of Jack Buck and now the loss of Darryl Kile," Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said. "It is going to be real tough period for the Cardinals organization and the citizens of St. Louis."

At a team meeting Saturday night, Cardinals players unanimously voted to play tonight against the Cubs -- a game Mr. Kile was to start.

But the team said a final decision will not be made until today, after the players meet with Mr. Kile's widow, Flynn, who was traveling from San Diego.

"My deepest sympathies go out to Darryl's family, his friends and the St. Louis Cardinals ballclub. All of baseball mourns his passing," Selig said.

Survivors include 5-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and a son who was born in August.

Many major-league teams paid tribute to Mr. Kile before games on Saturday night.

All flags were lowered at Minute Maid Park in Houston and there was a moment of silence at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The Cardinals flag was at half-staff in Atlanta and pictures of Mr. Kile were put on the scoreboard in Montreal.

Deaths among active baseball players have been rare.

Padres outfielder Mike Darr was killed in a car crash in February on his way to spring training.

Perhaps the most remembered deaths are those of Thurman Munson and Roberto Clemente.

Munson, the Yankees captain, was killed when a plane he was piloting crashed on Aug. 2, 1979. Clemente was killed on Dec. 31, 1972, when his plane carrying relief supplies crashed on the way to Nicaragua.

Police said that at 1:15 p.m. -- more than two hours before the game -- several Cardinals realized Mr. Kile wasn't at the ballpark and called the hotel and asked it to check on him.

The hotel security director and maintenance man went to Mr. Kile's suite on the 11th floor and had to force their way in because there were safety latches on both the inner and outer doors, said Joe Walsh, head of team security.

Walsh said there was also a Do Not Disturb sign on one of the doors. Chicago police estimated that Mr. Kile had been in bed 8-10 hours, Walsh added.

"The sheets were on, it looked like he was asleep," Loomis said.

Loomis said Mr. Kile's brother, Danny, went to dinner with the pitcher on Friday and Mr. Kile was back before 10 p.m.

After the death was reported, Loomis said the team asked Danny whether Darryl had complained of any problems. "He seemed to be fine," Loomis said.

Several stunned Cardinals walked out of the clubhouse without comment soon after the game was called.

"I couldn't believe it and I still don't believe it," said Cubs manager Don Baylor, who managed Mr. Kile in Colorado. "DK was a very special player. He was always the perfect teammate to all the guys who played with him."

Mr. Kile was 5-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 14 games this season. He was 16-11 with a 3.09 ERA last season, and had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in the offseason.

He pitched a no-hitter while with Houston in 1993 against the Mets. He was 133-119 in 11-plus major-league seasons and known for an exceptional curveball.

His best season was 2000, when he went 20-9 with a 3.91 ERA in his first year with St. Louis.

The length of Mr. Kile's career and the number of teams he played for left him with close relationships around the game.

"I still don't believe it," said Brewers pitcher Jamey Wright, who played on the Rockies with Mr. Kile in 1998 and '99. "You just think about the type of husband, father, teammate, brother, son that he was. He was the total package."

"He was a personal friend," said Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who held the same job for the Astros in 1994-95 when Mr. Kile was there. "He was a good pitcher, but a tremendous person.

"I played a lot of golf with him and got to know him and his family. He was right up there on my all-time list of pitchers I really enjoyed being around. He had no bad habits, he was very happy with baseball, his life and his family and he loved golf.

"It's awful."

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