10 years ago today was one of the saddest days in 21st century baseball. Today was the day the Cardinals-Cubs game at Wrigley Field was cancelled due to some news as shocking as it was tragic.
It was on June 22, 2002 that Darryl Kile died.
He was a star NL pitcher who came up with the Astros and had a breakthrough season in 1993. Armed with a big curve, Kile went 15-8 and capped it off by throwing a no-hitter over the Mets in September. He regressed a bit in ensuing seasons, but appeared to regain his stride in 1997, posting a 19-7 mark and receiving his second All-Star team selection.
Then he tested the free agent waters and made a disastrous decision—he signed with the Rockies. His curve flattened out in the thin mountain air, and Kile’s confidence flattened with it. He began to pick on corners almost exclusively—not only at home but also on the road. Thus his walks ballooned, strikeouts shrank—and in Denver balls in play went for hits and homers.
After two horrible seasons there, Kile landed in St. Louis, where he rapidly put the past behind him. In his first season with the Redbirds, Kile enjoyed his first 20-win season in 2000. He followed it up with another fine campaign in 2001.
He was never a dominant pitcher or one of the best of his generation, but he was a dependable quality arm.
When he went to bed on June 21, 2002, he had thrown over 2,000 innings, posted a 133-119 record, and was just 33 years old. Though a definite longshot for Cooperstown, it looked like Kile could enjoy several more seasons as a big league pitcher. He might even make it to 200 wins and beyond.
Instead, he fell asleep, and never woke up. Overnight, Kile died of a heart attack brought on by an undiagnosed heart condition.
It was supposed to be a day game at Wrigley Field. But the Cardinals didn’t understand while Kile wasn’t there. They called back to the hotel, where the staff found his body in bed.
News traveled back to the park, and neither team wanted to play. The Cardinals were clearly in no condition to carry on. Phone calls were made and commissioner Bud Selig gave his approval to postpone it.
In the stands, people were perplexed. I had a friend at Wrigley that day. When it was time for the game to begin, not only was there no one on the field, but there had been no one practicing in advance. Every once in a while you’d see a coach or someone shuffle around. My friend said that a Cardinals fan behind him got a call on his cell phone telling him the rumors of Kile’s death that had hit the sports radio. “What? NO! That can’t be!” is the half of the call my friend heard.
When veteran Cub catcher Joe Girardi told the crowd the game was postponed, he intentionally didn’t say why, because people were still trying to contact all of Kile’s relatives before making any official announcement.
The next day, the teams played a decidedly somber game. There was no music or much in the way of typical in-game festivities. It wasn’t a very festive day. Oh, not that it mattered too much in the bigger scheme, but the Cards lost that game, 8-3.
Adding to the sense of sadness for Cardinals fans, it came just a few days after the death of longtime sportscaster Jack Buck. The team wrote DK57 on their hats, in honor of Kile, whose uniform number was 57. They had Kile’s young son throw out the first pitcher shortly afterwards. When St. Louis clinched the division, they took his uniform on the field for their celebration.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you prefer to just skim things.
3,000 days since Joe Mauer makes his big league debut.
3,000 days since Ozzie Guillen manages his first game.
8,000 days since Shawon Dunston belts three triples in one game for the Cubs.
10,000 days since Greg Luzinski retires.
10,000 days since the Phillies trade Al Oliver to the Dodgers.
15,000 days since Joe Torre has one of only seven bases-loaded walk-off triples in the last 60 years. The Cardinals top the Braves, 8-7.
15,000 days since Mickey Lolich tosses a 10-innning complete game two hit shutout. Not bad.
1889 Indianapolis, then a big league team, release former star pitcher Jim Whitney.
1891 Tom Lovett of Brooklyn no-hits the Giants in a 4-0 win.
1894 Washington scores in every inning in a 26-12 win over the Boston.
1903 Carl Hubbell, the Meal Ticket, is born.
1908 Honus Wagner gets his 2,000th hit.
1909 The Tigers buy vacant land off Bennett Field ground for a new park.
1916 It’s the only extra-inning triple steal in National League history as the Braves do it in the 11th frame with Johnny Evers stealing home.
1917 It’s Honus Wagner Day in Pittsburgh.
1922 Hall of Famer Zack Wheat gets his 2,000th hit.
1926 The Cardinals select star pitcher Pete Alexander off of waivers from the Cubs.
1928 Yankee pitcher Hank Johnson tosses a complete game shutout against an A’s lineup featuring Ty Cobb, Mickey Cochrane, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Tris Speaker, Lefty Grove and two other guys.
1931 Veteran catcher Wally Schang plays in his last game.
1932 Hack Wilson enjoys his 27th and final multi-home run game.
1932 The NL president finally approves of players wearing numbers on his uniform.
1934 Bill Terry and Joe Cronin are named All-Star game managers. They were the pennant-winning skippers last year and this sets a precedent that lasts to the present day that those guys helm the midsummer game.
1941 Reds star pitcher Paul Derringer lasts 16 innings, tying his longest ever start. He loses 2-1 in a complete game loss. Both teams score a run in the 11th, with Derringer allowing a homer to opposing starting pitcher Whit Wyatt.
1944 Jim Tobin tosses a shortened game no-hitter—five innings.
1947 Ewell Blackwell is two outs from throwing his second consecutive no-hitter when Eddie Stanky hits a single that goes through Blackwell’s legs. Thus Johnny Vander Meer remains the only man with back-to-back no-hitters.
1957 Yogi Berra smashes the first of nine career grand slams.
1951 A Pirates-Dodgers game ends at 1:56 AM, the latest to date. A power failure delayed the game for two hours at the outset and it also had a 36-minute rain delay in the sixth.
1955 Warren Spahn hits a home run and tosses a complete game shutout. It’s the second time he’s done that. Milwaukee 6, Pittsburgh 0.
1958 Leon “Daddy Wags” Wagner makes his big league debut.
1959 Sandy Koufax sets a new personal best—that he’ll break two months later—with 16 Ks in one game.
1961 Ernie Banks plays in his 717th consecutive game. He’ll miss the next one, ending his streak.
1962 Boog Powell becomes the first person to homer over the center field hedge at Memorial Stadium. It’s a 469 foot shot.
1963 Bob Gibson wins, giving him a career record of 40-39. It’ll always be over .500 from here on out. After his 39-39 start, Gibson will be 212-135 (.611) over the rest of his career
1965 Ray Barker ties a major league record with his second consecutive pinch hit home run.
1967 San Francisco purchases the aging Dick Groat from Philadelphia.
1968 Jim Kaat loses his 100th decision for a 114-100 career record.
1969 Ron Swoboda has a bad day, fanning five straight times in one game. After the last one, Mets fans give him a standing ovation.
1969 WPA says that this is the worst game of Billy Williams’ career. His WPA is –0.511 when he goes 0-for-4 with a K in a 5-4 Cubs loss to the Expos.
1977 Jim Palmer loses his 100th game for a 182-100 record.
1979 Brad Hawpe is born.
1980 Claudell Washington of the Mets his three home runs in a game.
1982 Rod Carew’s 25 game hitting streak is snapped.
1982 Wade Boggs hits the first walk-off home run of his career when he smashes one in the bottom of the 11th inning. He’ll only have two more walk-off homers, and the next one will be nine years later.
1983 Lou Whitaker’s longest hitting streak peaks at 18 games. He’s 36-for-79 with just two walks.
1983 Tim Raines smashes a walk-off grand slam for a 4-0 Expos win. It’s his second career walk-off homer in just his 13th overall homer—but he’ll never again hit a game-ending blast over the fence.
1984 Clark Griffith sells majority interest in the Twins to Carl Pohlad for $32,000,000.
1987 Tom Seaver abandons his comeback attempt with the Mets.
1988 Billy Martin manages his last game. The Yankees will fire him after the loss.
1988 Will Clark has the greatest game of his life according to WPA: 1.133 WPA when he’s 4-for-5 with two doubles, a homer, and seven RBIs in a 8-7 Giants win over the Padres.
1990 The Braves hire a new manager: Bobby Cox. Good move.
1991 Mickey Tettleton becomes the 17th person to hit a ball entirely out of Tiger Stadium.
1992 Baltimore signs aging catcher Rick Dempsey for a homecoming for the longtime Oriole.
1992 Seattle outfielder Dave Cochrane has two assists in one game. And three errors.
1993 Carlton Fisk appears in his last game.
1993 John Olerud’s longest hitting streak peaks at 26 games. Not only is he 40-for-92 in it, but he’s got 22 walks during this time period.
1994 Jim Thome enjoys his first multi-home run game.
1995 Two acoustic panels fall from the Skydome Roof in the seventh inning, injuring seven fans.
1997 Cal Ripken gets his 500th career double.
1999 The Cubs overcome an eight-run deficit to top the Colorado Rockies, 13-12.
2001 Russell Branyan smashes the 10,000th home run in the history of the Indians franchise.
2001 Craig Biggio hits his third leadoff home run of the week. He also did it on June 17 and 20.
2001 Gregg Olson appears his last game.
2001 Kyle Lohse makes his big league debut.
2002 Florida gets four runs in the ninth to top Detroit, 5-4 – but Luis Castillo’s 35-game hitting streak ends in the contest.
2002 Jake Peavy makes his big league debut.
2003 Ruben Sierra gets his 2,000th hit.
2003 For the third time this month, Florida has zero runners left on base in a game. They also did it on June 6 and 17. They win two of the three, including today’s contest, 3-2 over Tampa.
2007 Miguel Tejada goes on the DL, ending his consecutive games played streak at 1,152.
2007 Ryan Rowland-Smith makes his big league debut, becoming the first major leaguer with a hyphenated last name.
2008 Atlanta’s Mark Teixeira belts three homers in one game. It’s the second time he’s done that.
2009 Donald Fehr announces his retirement as head of the players’ union after 25 years. His departure will be effective on March 2010.
2010 The sale of the Rangers from Tom Hicks to Chuck Greenberg’s group ends up in federal bankruptcy court.