Major Leagues: Angels coud learn lesson from Kile's death
By Bruce Jenkins
San Francisco Chronicle
As inappropriate as the notion seems now, the devastated Los Angeles Angels face the daunting task of pulling themselves together in the wake of Nick Adenhart’s death. The task falls partly upon manager Mike Scioscia, by all accounts the best in the business and now faced with the greatest challenge of his professional life.
Scioscia is a first-rate man who will do the right thing, but if he’s looking for guidance of any kind, he just might place a call to Tony La Russa.
Darryl Kile was one of La Russa’s favorite ballplayers, a 20-game winner for the 2000 St. Louis Cardinals and a prince of a man. Grounded in blissful family life with a wife and three kids, Kile was the type of guy who kept everyone loose around the clubhouse and set a tone of durability and character on the field.
On a Friday night in June 2002, Kile went to dinner in Chicago with his brother and a group of friends. With a scheduled start against the Cubs on Sunday, Kile returned to his hotel, placed the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob and drifted off to sleep. He never awakened. Kile died of a heart attack that night, at the age of 33, and his body was found the following afternoon while the Cardinals were taking batting practice.
In the ensuing days, the mood inside the Cardinals’ clubhouse was inconceivably grim. There was no shaking the impact of this loss. The Cardinals were a legitimate contender but the games seemed pointless, without meaning, and La Russa couldn’t find the words to make everything all right.
Reading a newspaper one day, La Russa came across a heartfelt passage written by Kile about the death of his father. It read, in part, “In order to be a man, you’ve got to separate your personal life from your work life. It may sound cold, but I’ve got work to do.”
Calling the players together, La Russa imparted those words, and the message hit home. The Cardinals eventually found a way to compete (winning the division title, as it turned out) while keeping a beloved teammate in their hearts. This is the task that lies ahead for the Angels.
May they handle it well.
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