By DeMario Davis, Co-Host of the Cap Show
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I just completed my sophomore year of high school. I was 16 years old, and there was no band camp. It was my first true summer vacation, and it was the first time that my mother had trusted me with going back to visit my hometown for the summer.
I remember packing up. I was so excited, I went into my room and, and turned up my favorite album, which was Cam’Ron’s ‘Come home with me’, and went to work. I packed one small suitcase and I ensured that I brought a jersey just in case.
Those childhood baseball games were huge. It had been about seven years since I had been back home, but I already knew what was ahead of me, and it started with a jersey. Everybody had a jersey, whether it was your select league MVP jersey from a year ago, your high school jersey, or your favorite player in the MLB; you came to the field in a baseball jersey – that was the rule.
It was an old Tom Pagnozzi jersey that I had found at a thrift store a few months before school was out. It was quite a find, being a Cardinals fan in Arlington, Texas. It was also a steal, $5 for a Majestic baseball jersey.
It was just like the old times, when we would all go door to door, collecting prospects on our way to ballpark to go play baseball. And by park, I mean the makeshift field that we called home. This field was ancient. Baseball had been played here for decades. The home run line was as far as you could hit the ball and the bases were abstract. We had everything from a kickball to a broken garden gnome. It didn’t matter, as the actual paths to the bases were impeccable. Everyone knew the bases. Home plate was an oversized plate that one of our friends Larry would bring.
Larry was a baseball guru – or at least we thought he was. He brought the bats, the balls, and a few gloves. We all would bring what we had too, just in case outsiders wanted to join in. They always did.
The view from home plate was beautiful. I could be biased, because I spent all of the time in the world there playing back catcher. From left field to right field, there was a beautiful tree line where all of the Cardinals would come watch, yes there were Cardinals that came to watch us play. There were even Orioles and a few Blue Jays from time to time that would stop by. We would always crack jokes about it.
At the distant left field line, you could see the iconic St. Louis Arch. We always played a ballgame before the Cards did if we were not going to the game. This would be the same place where we played our July 4th All-Star game, followed by our own fireworks to compliment those from Busch Stadium and the V.P. Fair.
We would always get our best turnouts on Saturdays. Everyone would show up at about noon and we would play until the sun went down – or a Cards game was on. This Saturday was no different, just a little hotter. It was in the low-90’s, and everyone was complaining about the insane heat. I loved it, because it was not the typical 100 plus days that I had grown accustomed to in Texas.
The Baseball game was not the typical game; this was the St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Chicago Cubs. This was a heated rivalry game on both fields. Our Cardinals were at Wrigley Field, and we were holding down the fort at home.
We split the teams right down the middle. I was a Cardinal, and Larry was a Cub. The game was intense, we played all 9 innings and the game was decided when Larry hit a walk off triple to bring my little cousin Christopher across the plate. Everyone went crazy. The taunts and trash talking was at an all time high, and I was flustered to say the least. We wanted redemption – but we also wanted water. We all took a break in the shade behind home plate.
Me: You know we’re going to win the next game right?
Larry: Only if you’re on my team.
Me: We had you.
Larry: Who won? (laughing) thought so…
We all sat there joking a little longer before we all headed inside to watch the game.
It was when we sat down to watch the game we found out that pitcher Darryl Kile had succumbed to a heart attack and that the game wouldn’t be played.
I didn’t know too much about Kile. I knew he was a good pitcher, and he had a no-hitter under his belt. I knew that he was one of the better pitchers in the rotation. I was more of a hitter’s fan, with Mike Matheny, J.D. Drew, Edgar Renteria, Jim Edmonds, and Albert Pujols being my favorites, especially on the Game Boy.
We all watched the Broadcast, letting Joe Buck help us find our way, while finding his. Buck had just eulogized and buried his father, the legendary Jack Buck a day earlier. Just as the show went off, I got a knock at the door. It was Larry.
Larry: Darryl Kile is dead.
Me: I know, that’s crazy right?
Larry: You want this rematch?
Me: Let’s do it.
Larry and myself assembled the troops for one more game. It was the same teams, but this time it was different. We were playing for the Cards, and most importantly, DK.
This game was just as intense as the first, although it wasn’t decided in walk off fashion, the Cardinals defeated the Cubs 5-2 after 9 innings.
I will never forget that day.
June 22, 2002 was special because although we lost the first one, I knew that KMOX was on somewhere up in heaven, and that Buck Sr. was giving the broadcast while DK listened to the win.
Rest in peace Darryl Kile, a husband, a father, a pitcher, a friend. December 2, 1968 – June 22, 2002 (via Asrtosdaily.com)