Cards fans endure 'a very difficult week'Posted: Saturday June 22, 2002 8:25 PM
Updated: Tuesday June 25, 2002 4:45 PM
Cardinals fans remarked that it was magical, as if longtime broadcaster Jack Buck had waited until his beloved Cardinals regained first place before his 77-year-old body gave out after a long illness Tuesday night.
Buck was buried Friday and the Cardinals looked to move on -- only to be jolted again by the shocking word Saturday that Kile, just 33, was dead in a Chicago hotel room.
"It's like a dark cloud is hanging over this city right now," Cardinals fan Ron Noll said at the makeshift shrine to Buck outside Busch Stadium on Saturday, just hours after learning of Kile's death, apparently of natural causes.
"You just wish you could write a letter to somebody and say, 'Stop this, please.'"
In Chicago, where St. Louis' game Saturday against the Cubs was called off because of Kile's death, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the two teams would play as planned Sunday night -- a game the right-handed Kile was to have started.
"Our club is just totally staggered, I mean, devastated," La Russa said, wiping away tears and trying to fathom what happened. "You have to have someone smarter than me to explain it, because I'm not smart enough to explain it."
Citing the deaths of Buck and Kile, Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty lamented that "a very difficult week" was only getting worse.
"It's going to be a real tough mourning period for the Cardinals organization and the city of St. Louis," he said. "But we all have a job to do. We have to be strong, battle through this and find a way to go on. I'm sure Darryl would definitely want us to go on."
Many Cardinals' fans -- some unaware of Kile's death until being told by a reporter -- debated how it would impact the team on the heels of Buck's death.
"The two are not linked in any way, except they both got checks from the Cardinals," said Joe Buck, Jack Buck's son and a fellow baseball broadcaster.
Kile's death, he said, "has nothing to do with my dad; it has everything to do with a husband and father of three kids."
To what extent things change was up for debate by Cardinals fans Saturday. Some said Kile's death would further the team's resolve; others suggested it could unravel the team forced to mourn much as the Kansas City Chiefs did over linebacker Derrick Thomas and the Minnesota Vikings over tackle Korey Stringer -- two other players who died in their prime.
St. Louis has grieved for one of its players before: J.V. Cain, a tight end for the former St. Louis Cardinals football team, died of a heart attack during training camp on his 28th birthday in 1979.
"All week long people were saying the Cardinals should win the World Series because the Jack Buck death could give them inspiration. This could destroy them," fan Adrian Ritchie said.
Not so, countered fellow Cardinals fan Tony Forcelledo.
"Something like this can hurt you or give you a big shot in the arm," Forcelledo said. "There are no fans like the Cardinals' fans, and they'll rise to the occasion to give the team all the support. The standing ovations will be many."