06/26/2002 6:51 pm ET
Fans have fond memories of Kile
By Jared Hoffman / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- A walk around Busch Stadium on Wednesday afternoon made it obvious Darryl Kile is on the hearts and minds of many Cardinals fans.
On the outside of the stadium were signs, banners, pictures and a memorial for the Cardinals pitcher. On the inside were featured more than 5,000 people to attend a memorial service in Kile's honor.
One person in attendance was Bradley Gee, a young fan who had met Kile less than two weeks ago at "Jersey Off Their Back Day" at Busch Stadium. Fans purchased tickets for a chance to win a jersey from a Cardinals player with proceeds benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Bradley had the winning ticket for Kile's jersey.
"Darryl was his favorite player, so it was a pretty exciting day for him," said Shane Gee, Bradley's father. "I loved the message that they gave today -- that salvation comes through Christ. It made my son happy to know [Darryl] is with the Lord."
Many fans said the spiritual message of the service -- the role played by God in the life of Kile and everyone -- was especially poignant.
"It was beautiful," said James Juithues. "It was great to see all the friends and families and the ball families come together to pay their respects. The spiritual closeness he had as a leader -- it is very important for somebody to keep the spiritual side of their life in perspective."
Judy Boen, who organizes Christian Family Day at Busch Stadium, attended the service for Kile, the second memorial service at Busch Stadium in the past week. Last week, the Cardinals had a memorial service for broadcaster Jack Buck, who died June 18. "My heart was broken when Darryl Kile died," Boen said. "You plan on someone the age of Jack Buck passing -- even though it hurts because we loved him so much -- but someone young like that, it's just awful.
"We wanted to come down and honor Kile. We wanted other people to know what Kile had, obviously, and what some of the Christian players have -- that's all that can get you through is your faith."
Stephanie Kile-Bennett (no relation) is a Cardinals fan who said she took an instant liking to Kile when he came to St. Louis in 2000 and that her favorite memories of Kile are for his accomplishments off the field.
"I was really excited when he came to St. Louis because Kile was my maiden name so I took natural interest in him," said Kile-Bennett. There were so many great things that he brought to St. Louis with community efforts that he did -- I know he was really involved with Kile's Kids. I'm a school teacher, so that was really a neat thing to see him do that."
Like many people, Kile-Bennett felt the memorial service for Kile was a healthy part of the healing process.
"It was beautiful -- very heart-felt and showed a lot of people cared about Darryl," said Kile-Bennett. "I just felt I needed to come down -- it's been a really rough week for St. Louis and the Cardinals and to hopefully kind of bring it all to close and pay my respects."
Kile's family is hoping some of his fans can put their favorite memories of Darryl Kile into words to give his children a better understanding of how people felt about him.
At the request of Kile's wife, Flynn, the Cardinals will be compiling a memory book of letters and notes for Kile's three children. Fans interested in sending a note or story to Kile's family may do so by writing to:
DK 57 Memory Book
250 Stadium Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63102.
The Kile family has also requested that memorial contributions be made in Kile's name to Cardinals Care, the team's community foundation. Contributions should be sent to:
The Darryl Kile Memorial Fund
250 Stadium Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63102
Jared Hoffman is an editorial producer for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.