Sixteen years later, it’s time to retire the number of Darryl Kile.
Darryl Kile has been dead for 16 years. His freak death shocked the baseball nation on June 22, 2002. In a baseball game televised around the country, catcher Joe Girardi announced live at 2:37 central daylight time about Kile’s death. While time has helped heal the wound, the concept of death during the peak of a career still haunts the baseball community.
Jose Fernandez, Kile, Yordano Ventura and Nick Adenhart are the four players who are deceased with out of service numbers. However, as a recent trip to Marlins Park by this writer noticed, there is no sign of the #16 anywhere for the late Fernandez. The change in ownership seems to cause to a change in opinion about how Jose Fernandez’s death is handled That is really unfortunate, not to mention a disservice to a player who was the franchise for several bad years of Marlins baseball.
Nick Adenhart, who wore #34 in his first couple starts with the Anaheim Angels, lost his life in a car accident in Fullerton hours after a start in Anaheim. Since that day, the #34 has been out of service, some of it due to Jered Weaver’s request. Even after Weaver’s departure, the #34 has been out of service. Yordano Ventura died in a traffic accident in the Dominican Republic during the offseason. His #30 has been out of service since. Eric Hosmer wears 30 in San Diego in honor of the late Ventura.
Darryl Kile’s impact is a little different. Not one, not two, but three teams all have #57 out of service due to his death. These are the Houston Astros, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies and the Cardinals both have a circular 57 in the bullpens in honor of Kile. The Astros took a different approach, with a plaque on the left field wall in honor of Darryl Kile. However, all three teams chose to not give back the #57, which is the right thing to do.
However, 16 years has healed a lot of wounds from that terrible time. A lot of baseball players, now retired, would probably appreciate a formal retirement of the #57 in all three organizations. Kile did not have the eye-popping statistics but the impact on his teams are numerous. The three-time All-Star will never be on the level as say Thurman Munson of the New York Yankees, but the player was there for his team, always priding himself on making his next start.
Rather than letting the number wilt for another 16 years (2034), let us give baseball a chance to honor Kile one more time in three different ballparks. Baseball fans would get to learn who Kile was and there is no reason to continue letting 57 just sit in the bullpen corners.