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Rockies react to Kile's death
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06/22/2002 7:51 pm ET 
Rockies react to Kile's death
By Thomas Harding /

Darryl Kile pitched for the Rockies in 1998 and 1999, posting a 21-30 record. (David Zalubowski/AP)

DENVER -- A tearful Colorado Rockies star, Larry Walker, said the death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile hit home with the Rockies, for whom Kile pitched and earned respect despite difficult 1998 and 1999 seasons.

"I think you've all heard as a teammate what he was like; it's all true," said Walker, who said he received a phone call as he was driving to the park and spent the rest of the afternoon in front of the television with other saddened Rockies. "He was a great guy ... great mood, the whole time. He was a professional at everything in life.

"You hate when these things happen. They're not easy to deal with."

Mike Hampton, a teammate of Kile in Houston and a close friend, originally offered to speak but later declined.

Kile was found dead in the Cardinals' Chicago hotel room. He died apparently in his sleep of natural causes, according to police in Chicago.

Kile signed with the Rockies before the 1998 season and went 21-30 in two seasons with the club before being traded to St. Louis just after the 1999 season. Despite his numbers and the criticism that he received locally, Kile nonetheless enjoyed Colorado. Even after he was traded, he continued living in Denver suburb Englewood with his wife, Flynn, and three children -- 5-year-old twins (Kannon, a son, and Sierra, a daughter) and a son (Ryker Davis) born last August. The Kiles had recently moved to San Diego.

The Rockies, who include players who were with Kile in Houston, Colorado and St. Louis, closed their clubhouse before Saturday night's game with Tampa Bay. Walker, the only Colorado player to address the media, said his wife, Angela, had spoken with Flynn Kile, who was in San Diego, on Saturday.

"He had a huge heart, you know?" Walker said. "I don't know all the stuff he was involved with in charities, but he would bend over backwards to do something for anybody."

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, hitting coach under managers Don Baylor and Jim Leyland during Kile's time with the Rockies, said he appreciates what Kile did for the Rockies.

"He was a warrior when he was here," Hurdle said. "A lot of people -- it's sad -- a lot of people gave him a hard time here. A lot of people were very, very opinionated about his talents in the press.

"The one thing the man never did was never back down from an opportunity to pitch. You can't say anything more about a teammate than as a starting pitcher, taking the ball every time out. He never ducked a start here regardless, good, bad or indifferent. And I really believe in his heart, every time he took the field, he thought he was going to turn it around here at Coors Field. "

Tampa Bay hitting coach Milt May, Kile's pitching coach under Leyland in 1999, echoed Hurdle in respecting Kile's refusal to yield during what would end up an 8-13 season.

"He showed me a lot as a person and as a pitcher," May said. "I have nothing but good things to say about him. He was a professional and an excellent pitcher. The year I had him (1999), he showed he was a class guy and a tough competitor. He never missed a start. When something like this happens, it really wakes you up."

The Cardinals and Cubs postponed their scheduled game Saturday. Walker said it was going to be difficult to go ahead with the Devil Rays-Rockies game.

Walker said the week has been difficult because of rampant, large-scale fires that have disrupted lives south of Denver. Also, Walker considered himself a friend of Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck, who died on Tuesday night after a long illness.

"To be honest with you, the last few days have been tough," Walker said. "First with Jack Buck, who of course, I knew, he dies. Then we're out there playing and you've got ashes falling from the sky. And you lose a friend, so it's going to be tough to play."

Flags were flown at half-staff at Coors Field and a moment of silence was observed prior to the first pitch on Saturday.

Thomas Harding covers the Rockies for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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