As hard as St. Louis Cardinals fans may find it to believe, this week marks the 10th anniversaries of the passing of both Jack Buck and Darryl Kile. Even 10 years later, it still feels as if it had happened yesterday.
As is the case for many Cardinals blogs this week, it’s a time that we pay an annual tribute to the late broadcaster and pitcher. I’ll never forget where I was on the morning of June 19th when I found out that Jack Buck had died the day before. Or the sucker punch to my gut on that Saturday when I arrived at a cousin’s birthday party in a good mood, only to feel the punch in my gut moments after finding out that we lost DK57.
Being from Louisville and all, I didn’t grow up listening to Jack Buck call the games on the radio. It was still a hard loss–as if I had lost my own grandfather. I knew about some of his most famous calls like:
1982 World Series win: Sutter from the belt, to the plate…a swing and a miss! And that’s a winner! That’s a winner! A World Series winner for the Cardinals!
Ozzie Smith walk-off home run, 1985 NLCS Game 5: Smith corks one into right, down the line, it may go!…Go crazy, folks! Go crazy! It’s a home run! And the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3-2, on a home run by The Wizard! Go crazy!
Kirk Gibson’s home run, 1988 World Series Game 1: Gibson…swings and a fly ball to deep right field. This is gonna be a home run! UNBELIEVABLE! A home run for Gibson! And the Dodgers have won the game, five to four; I don’t believe what I just saw! I don’t BELIEVE what I just saw!
Kirby Puckett’s walk-off home run, 1991 World Series Game 6: Into deep left center…for Mitchell … and we’ll see you .. .tomorrow night!
Jack Buck’s career in the Cardinals booth lasted from 1954 to 2001, although he was not a member of the Cardinals broadcast team during the 1959 or 1960 seasons. One of Buck’s final public appearances was a moment that nobody will ever forget. It was the first Cardinals game back since the 9/11 attacks, when he read his poem, “For America.”
June 23, 2002. Catcher Joe Girardi had to make the biggest announcement of his baseball career, at 2:37 PM, as he addressed the fans waiting for the game to begin between the visiting St. Louis Cardinals and the hometown Chicago Cubs.
I thank you for your patience. We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinal family, the commissioner has canceled the game today. Please be respectful. You will find out eventually what has happened, and I ask that you say a prayer for the St. Louis Cardinals’ family.
Darryl Kile had died of a heart attack at the age of 33. He wasn’t supposed to go at such a young age. Not even having a chance to say goodbye to his wife and kids. It was only days before he died tragically at a young age that he spoke to MLB.com about Father’s Day and what it meant for him to become a father.
As well know by now, the Cardinals played the next day but it was not the same. It would not be for the rest of the season. Sadness surrounded the dugout. Mike Matheny, then a catcher and now a manager for the Cardinals, elected not to play. I don’t blame him. I would have reacted the same way.
Looking back on it, it is ironic that in the days that followed DK57’s death, the Cardinals would win 57 games. Sadly, the Cardinals would lose in the 2002 NLCS to San Francisco Giants.
Ten years later, both are still missed, especially during one week of the entire season as fans pay tribute.