Other exclusive interviews are featured with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and general manager Walt Jocketty; Kile’s former Astros teammates Brad Ausmus, Craig Biggio and Phil Nevin; former Colorado Rockies manager Jim Leyland; Kile’s teammate with all three teams, Dave Veres; former Cubs catcher Joe Girardi; former Cardinals broadcaster Joe Buck; San Francisco Giants broadcaster Jon Miller; and St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, all of whom discuss their reactions to Kile’s death and their memories of Kile as a teammate and family man. In discussing how Kile’s death affected the Cardinals’ play on the field, Jocketty said “One of the ironic things I’ve thought about is when he died, we had 40 wins. We ended up with 97. That’s 57, which is his uniform number. That’s pretty amazing.”
The documentary also includes new interviews with members of the Cardinals staff who were with the team in Chicago on the day Kile died, including Traveling Secretary C.J. Cherre, Resident Security Agent Tony Wagner, and Director of Security Joe Walsh. MLB Network aired an excerpt of the The Life and Death of Darryl Kile on June 22, the ten-year anniversary of his passing, which can you view here.
Kile won 133 games over 12 years in MLB and was named to three National League All-Star teams (1993, 1997 & 2000). Kile started his career with the Astros, where he spent seven seasons (1991-1997), and also threw a no-hitter against the New York Mets on September 8, 1993. Kile went on to play for two years with the Rockies (1998-1999) before playing his final three seasons (2000-2002) for the Cardinals. Following his passing in 2002, St. Louis won the NL Central Division title. Since Kile’s death, no other Cardinals player has worn uniform number 57.
Highlights from the documentary include:
On Kile’s legacy:
To me, he was the kind of person that made people around him better. Yes, everybody wants to win, but you just see very few people that go out of their way to invest in other people and Darryl Kile was one of those.
Tony La Russa:
He’s literally too good to be true. And you had to keep saying, “Was he really as great as we thought he was?” And the answer was yes…I’ll repeat it until the time you take the [microphone] away. He was so perfect it was not to be believed, but believe it.
I hit a home run off him and I remember running around the bases and I remember someone yelling at me, cursing at me, as I’m running around the bases…Then, [Jeff Bagwell] hit, came back later on, and he goes, “Man, did you hear Darryl yelling at you?” I go, “That was him? That was Darryl?”…So, season’s over, it’s like two weeks before Christmas and I get a phone call. It was Darryl. He goes, “Hey, I want to apologize.” [I said], “What are you apologizing for?” He goes, “I want to apologize. I should’ve never cursed at you, yelled at you.”…He goes, “I should’ve never have done that. You treated me so nicely when I was in Houston. It helped me when I was a younger player. You were always there for me.” And that’s the type of person that Darryl was.
On learning of Kile’s death:
I just laid on the ground and cried. It was tough. It’s still tough.
I know that I escaped to a small part of the corner in the trainer’s room. I remember throwing a few things around. I remember looking around the clubhouse at times and seeing people just stuck in a spot.
As you train for this position there is a lot of things you train for but you never train for a player’s death, especially like this.
La Russa on telling the Cardinals players:
The guys knew that there was a serious issue here. When I walked out there, I think at that point, virtually everybody was fearing the worst, and I went out there and confirmed it. Just the magnitude of the sadness, the devastation was beyond normal. Normal would be really, really bad. This was savage, brutal because [of] who he was, all that it meant to the family, our team, losing a friend. It was brutal.
Joe Girardi on making the announcement at Wrigley Field that the game was cancelled:
I remember it was almost like yesterday. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in the game. It was harder than taking my uniform off for the last time.
Girardi on playing the Cardinals the day after Kile died:
I kept saying to myself, “I can’t believe we’re playing this game.” I would watch each player walk up to hit and you could see the devastation and you could see them kind of in a daze. You’re thinking, “Why are we playing this game?” I just thought it was too soon.
La Russa on the Cardinals’ initial struggle after Kile’s death:
Our club was so devastated that they were just doing a little bit more than going through the motions. We went through a period of games where the thing that we pride ourselves on the most – this intense competition – wasn’t important. Just get through it.
On the Cardinals’ play after Kile’s death:
We were motivated. We knew we were good first. Then, we thought too, what a great tribute to Darryl, what a great tribute to him and his family for us to go out and keep playing the game the right way. All of us thought about him frequently…I think all of us dug a little deeper and realized we had a great chance to do something special.
One of the ironic things I’ve thought about is when he died, we had 40 wins. We ended up with 97. That’s 57, which is his uniform number. That’s pretty amazing.
I was certain that this club was going to be rewarded with a World Series appearance. When the Giants beat us in five [in the NLCS], to this day, I was the most disappointed ever…The good thing was, that team made it a point to just dedicate what we were doing…We just played our butts off and ended up making it happen. They were courageous, heroic. It was wonderful. That club made it a commitment to honor Darryl’s memory.