The saddest week in Cardinals history

Jack Buck

This week is the 10th anniversary of the deaths of Darryl Kile.jpgJack Buck and Darryl Kile, which to me was the saddest week in Cardinals  history.  World Series losses, critical injuries to Cardinals players, trades of favorite Cardinals players and player and manager retirements all pale in comparison to that week 10 years ago.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the passing of Jack Buck, my favorite all time Cardinals radio announcer.  St. Louis mourned Jack’s death like they had lost a local dignitary and indeed they had, for Jack was more than just a baseball announcer.  He contributed to many charities and treated everyone he met as his equal.  Cardinal Nation felt like they knew him personally, due to his sonorous voice broadcasting games in their homes, in their cars, and wherever they were as they listened to the game.

I, along with all of Cardinal Nation, watched Jack that night of the first game after 9/11 when he read the poem he wrote about the events of 9/11.  Sadly, his once resonant voice trembled and his body shook, but he stood determined and resolute.  It is one of my favorite Jack Buck memories, along with the famous “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy, folks!” from the 1985 playoffs.

I met Jack Buck just once.  I was at a season opening pep rally and our paths crossed. After I picked my jaw off up the ground, I shook his hand and told him how much I had enjoyed reading his book, “That’s a Winner!” Jack said thank you and told me to bring my copy up to the booth sometime and he would autograph it for me.  Of course, I never did get around to that.  When Jack died, I mourned like it was my own father who had died.  I had listened to Jack and Mike call so many ballgames over the years, starting when I was 13 years old.  The final piece of my childhood died that night when Jack died.

Jack’s death was sad, but it was expected to happen eventually given Jack’s health problems.  But Cardinal Nation was in a state of shock over the death of Darryl Kile.  He was so young and so strong, to be cut down in the prime of life, leaving behind to mourn his passing a widow and young children.  Unlike Jack, however, poor Darryl died alone, without family or friends by his side as he made that final journey. He probably didn’t even know what was happening to him.

I remember how I heard the news about Darryl’s passing.  I was waiting in my car for my daughter, who was working at the library that day.  We, along with my son, were going to go to a movie that afternoon once she got off of work.  I had the pregame program on the radio in the car as I waited.  As I listened, I had a dreadful feeling that something was terribly wrong.  When the news broke on the pregame show that there would not be a game that day and why, I was shocked. I called my hubby on my cell phone, since I knew that he was watching the game, and told him the news. They had not yet made the announcement on TV. We ended up going to the movie since we already had purchased our tickets.  There were moviegoers with Cardinals shirts in the lobby, and I told them the sad, shocking news of Darryl’s passing.

There was a series of ironies surrounding Darryl’s death.  He died in Chicago, the home of the Cardinals’ rivals, on a game day.  Even more ironic was the fact that the last game in which Darryl pitched took place the night that Jack Buck died.   Joe Girardi, who made the announcement on the field that day that a terrible tragedy had happened to the Cardinals family, became a Cardinal.

His teammates resolved to play that year in Darryl’s memory. The team could have collapsed, but they bonded together and played even better.  Darryl’s jersey went everywhere they did.  It was hung in the dugout during games.  His jersey had champagne sprayed on it during the playoffs.  A large DK 57 patch was painted on the outfield wall and was a fixture on Cardinals players’ jerseys.  There is now a large DK 57 patch in the dugout of the new Busch Stadium.

Life goes on, however.  There is a new Busch Stadium, where Jack has never called a game and there is a pitching mound that Darryl has never stepped on.  Darryl’s widow has remarried and his children have grown.  Mike Matheny, who was Darryl’s catcher 10 years ago, is now the Cardinals’ manager.  Time melts away some of the pain, but we will always have our memories of Jack and Darryl.  Please feel free to share your comments about Jack and Darryl in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!  See you next time!