Kile wasn't on the team bus that took most of the Cardinals from the hotel to Wrigley the next morning, but that wasn't unusual. He often took a cab to the ballpark so he could arrive early and start his workday. Nor was there reason to be alarmed when Kile wasn't in the clubhouse when the rest of the team arrived at Wrigley by approximately 11:20, three hours before the scheduled first pitch. Perhaps his cab had gotten stuck in traffic. Perhaps he had decided to sleep in; he had told Morris the night before that he was tired.
When Kile failed to show by noon, however, the Cardinals began to worry. Several calls from team officials to Kile's room had gone unanswered. A little after noon the team phoned the hotel security staff and asked them to check on the pitcher. Security and engineering staff members arrived at Kile's 11th-floor corner suite to find a gray PRIVACY PLEASE sign dangling from the door and the safety latch fastened.
As the Cardinals filtered off the field after batting practice, word began to spread that something was wrong. Club p.r. official Brad Hainje asked pitching coach Dave Duncan who would start on Sunday night, if Kile was ill or otherwise unable to take his turn. "I don't know," the worried Duncan said. "I guess [22-year-old lefthander] Bud Smith."
Minutes later the Cardinals learned the staggering news: The hotel staff had forced its way into Kile's room and found him lying in bed as if asleep, wearing eyeshades. The TV remote control was next to him. His valuables were arranged on the nightstand, his clothes laid out on an upholstered easy chair. Full autopsy and toxicology reports won't be completed for at least four weeks, but early indications are that the blockage in the arteries may have caused arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat) that interrupted the blood supply to the brain.
Kile's father, David, had died at 44 of a stroke, which is caused by an arterial blockage or a hemorrhage. Even with that red flag, doctors would have had little reason to perform an angiogram, the most reliable test for coronary disease, on such a young patient as Kile unless he had complained of chest pains or failed a stress test. According to the Cardinals' medical staff, Kile had passed a physical in spring training and hadn't complained to them about anything other man muscular aches and pains since.
The Cardinals were still in shock when they headed home on Sunday night. Competition might be their only escape for the rest of the season. "During the game you can concentrate on playing," says Cubs manager Don Baylor, a teammate of Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock, who was shot to death after a game in Chicago late in the 1978 season. "Players will have problems during the downtime. That's when you have a chance to think about things and reflect on your teammate. It's probably one of the most difficult things they'll have to deal with as players."
As of Monday the Cardinals hadn't decided who would replace Kile full time in their rotation. Most likely they'll call up a pitcher from Triple A Memphis, perhaps righthander Travis Smith, who has limited big league experience, or righthander Jimmy Journell, a 1999 fourth-round draft pick who was 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA at Double A New Haven before being called up to Memphis on Monday. The Cardinals will find someone to take the mound in Kile's stead. Filling the empty place in their hearts will be more difficult.