Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Nine Short Years

This photo hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame and breaks my heart every time I see it. (Photo taken by Scott Rovak/AP and used without permission)

Back in the days when I was employed and could liberally spend my money, I’d buy just about anything baseball-related that caught my eye.  At one time I owned (what I considered) a beautiful, black Chicago White Sox alternate jersey because it was a baseball jersey, a team I didn’t hate, and I just loved the way it looked.  I also owned a purple and black Colorado Rockies Darryl Kile jersey.  It wasn’t so much that I was a huge Kile fan (I liked him well enough, especially given we were the same age) but more that I really liked the jersey and didn’t DISlike Kile.

So nine years ago today, while getting ready to watch Fox’s Saturday baseball, I was shocked and saddened when they announced that Kile had been found dead in his hotel room.  My strongest memory is of Joe Girardi, then the catcher for the Cubs, coming out and asking Cubs fans (the Cardinals were playing the Cubs in Chicago that weekend) to, basically, not freak out because the game had been canceled.  (I don’t believe they announced to the fans exactly why the game was being canceled, but my memory often fails me.)

The rest of the weekend, the media spent their time speculating that Kile’s death was due to drugs, or alcohol or both.  (I remember talk of a joint being found in the hotel room.  I have no idea if it was even true but I remember how they tried to make the appearance of marijuana some shocking information.  “OOh he was smoking POT.  NOW we know why he died!”)  As I often do, I immediately began to obsess on Kile.  I was watching everything they were showing on him and, again, his age really made it easy for me to connect to him.

The Monday following his death, I was up early watching Good Morning America as it began.  Dr. Timothy Johnson was on telling how a weak heart, not drugs, was most likely the cause of Darryl Kile’s death.  I can still see the graphic he showed where he was pointing to parts of the heart that were probably weakened in Kile.  I remember this because, as I was watching, the house I was living in, my parents house, caught fire.  It was a two-family house and my uncle lived downstairs and he ran up the stairs to us screaming “Get out of the house!” right in the middle of Dr. Tim discussing Darryl Kile.  Everything else, while still vivid in my mind, went in slow motion.  That day was one of the longest of my life and it marked a genuine change in me.  It was the beginning of some good and some bad times for me and one of the lesser changes was my immediate affection for the St. Louis Cardinals.

After a couple of weeks sleeping on a cot in the basement of an uncle’s house, I ended up living with my godmother and uncle in their extra room.  A room built on to the back of their house that they used as an extra room that had a futon in it for me to sleep on while I tried to figure out what move to make next.  I lost just about everything, but at least I had a roof over my head, a place to sleep and a television with cable in my room.   I watched a lot of baseball that summer, and paid attention to the Cardinals almost as closely as I did to the Red Sox.  That was the summer I found the Red Sox Fan Forum over at redsox.com and the year I started making “Red Sox friends”.  A lot of good and bad came from that summer.

When the Cardinals made the NLDS I watched every game.  The Red Sox were out of it and I already was spending time hating on the Yankees so I needed something to feel GOOD about.  When they lost the NLCS in five games to, of all teams, Barry Bonds’ San Francisco Giants, I was inconsolable.  I was convinced that the Cardinals were going all the way for Darryl that year, but it wasn’t to be.  (I moved out of that room in May of 2004.  During my time there, baseball wasn’t very good to me.  I was in a very unstable emotional state for my time there and that coupled with things like the Cardinals losing and the 2003 ALCS give me too many memories of crying in that room over something that happened in baseball.  Thank you baseball gods for 2004.)

So it might be silly, but because of the timing of Darryl Kile’s death and something traumatic of my own that I can connect it to, I have a very special spot in my heart for him.

It’s been nine years since Darryl Kile died.  I still have my Curt Schilling High Heat PC baseball game from 2001, I haven’t played it in years (and it probably can’t even play on the newer pcs) but Darryl Kile is one of the choices of player and I refused to give it up.  (It was saved in the fire because it was in my laptop the morning of the fire.  Amazingly, my laptop was blown out of my bedroom by the fire but the only thing that needed replacing was the power cord.)  I am emotionally irrational about Darryl Kile and realize this.  So today is really a sad day for me.

I don’t usually write about Darryl Kile because, honestly, it bums me out and I try to not bum myself out on my own blog, but the rain, the long-ass game, and my own melancholy these days made me feel like getting some things down.  I hope Darryl’s resting in peace.

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June 22, 2011 - Posted by | 2011 | , , , ,

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