06/26/2002 6:28 pm ET
Memorial service for Darryl Kile held at Busch Stadium
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Friends from within and outside baseball gathered at Busch Stadium on Wednesday afternoon to say goodbye to Darryl Kile. A crowd of approximately 5,000 looked on as teammates and friends remembered Kile as a man, a father, a husband, a ballplayer, a golfer and a brother.
Rick Horton, a former Cardinals pitcher and now a representative of the St. Louis chapter of Baseball Chapel, led the service, in honor of a man he described as "a devoted husband, father, professional through and through."
"In the clubhouse and on this field, DK has impacted so many people in a powerful way. And that's why so many are gathered here this afternoon," Horton said.
On the infield grass at Busch Stadium, over 100 people gathered, including current Cardinals and their families and former teammates of Kile's from Houston and Colorado, as well as members of the baseball family who never played on a team with him. Approximately 10 family members and 50 players and coaches from outside the Cardinals attended.
Kile's wife, Flynn, and his twin daughter Sierra and son Kannon, sat in the front row on one side of the seats. Flynn Kile elected not to make any remarks, but Horton said that the religious tone of the memorial was at her request.
"Her hope (was) that God would be glorified here this afternoon," Horton said.
Among the players present were Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Brad Ausmus, Shane Reynolds, Billy Wagner, Phil Nevin, Mike Hampton, Curt Schilling, Luis Gonzalez, Larry Walker and Jeffrey Hammonds. Drayton McLane Jr., the owner of the Astros, and Houston general manager Gerry Hunsicker also came to pay their respects. The Rockies and Astros organizations both chartered planes so that their players could be in attendance.
During the ceremony, Kile's name and statistics were displayed in the bullpens as though he were the day's starting pitcher. In addition to the "DK 57" circular logo the Cardinals placed on the left-field wall, the team is now flying a "DK 57" flag atop Busch Stadium along with a "JFB" flag in honor of the recently departed Jack Buck.
After his opening remarks about "DK," Horton introduced Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, who read from the book of Ecclesiastes, speaking of "a time to be born and a time to die." Matheny also said a short prayer of thanks.
"We're thankful for how he touched each of our lives," Matheny said. "Some saw a baseball player. Others of us were fortunate enough to call him friend."
Former Houston teammates Pete Harnisch and Doug Drabek spoke about Kile as their friend and teammate. They shared stories of playing golf with Kile, as well as his importance in their lives.
Harnisch and Drabek emphasized that Kile was more than a teammate or friend, he was family.
"I had a teammate, a golf partner, very soon a friend, a roommate and finally a brother," Harnisch said. "That was the natural progression with Darryl: teammate to brother. I don't know if it was his good nature, sensitivity, dependability or caring. I'm sure it was all those things that made our relationship so strong."
Recalled Drabek: ""I was an only child, so growing up I figured I'd never have a brother or sister. How so wrong I was."
Harnisch recalled Kile's finest moment on the field, his no-hitter with the Astros against the Mets in 1993.
"I can remember it like it was yesterday, how I felt in the last two innings for DK's no-hitter," Harnisch said. "I've never wanted something for someone so much. Each out got the crowd roaring louder and louder, and when that last nasty curveball was thrown, I just screamed and ran. DK just smiled and raised his right arm. We mobbed him on the mound. I told him then and I tell you know, it was my greatest thrill in this game."
One speaker after another touched on Kile's generosity, and how much they appreciated his concern for them. And they wanted to return it.
"He would make sure he gave something back," Drabek said. "And if he gave something first, he didn't want anything back."
After family friend Tony Gracely spoke, longtime Kile teammate Dave Veres read Psalm 8 from the Bible.
"Everybody that knew Darryl knew that on earth he was a heavenly being, the way he treated people," said Veres, who played with Kile in Houston, Colorado and St. Louis. "He was truly an angel. And now he's finally being crowned with the glory and honor that he deserved all along."
Bill Rader, from the Colorado chapter of Baseball Chapel, also shared anecdotes from the golf course with Kile. Recording artist Randy Mayfield performed a rendition of "Amazing Grace" before St. Louis pitcher Woody Williams said a final prayer.
"We cannot possibly understand why we are here today," Williams said. "Thank you, Lord, for the time we had with Darryl. What a blessing it was. Thank you for the things we learned from him."
The somber ceremony ended with the assembled friends, family and teammates filing out quietly. Flynn Kile received a warm ovation from the crowd.
Matthew Leach covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.