06/22/2002 8:14 pm ET
Kile had many friends in Houston
Right-hander was signed, developed by organization
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The three flags behind the center field wall at Minute Maid Park were at half-staff in honor of the memory of former Astros pitcher Darryl Kile, who was found dead in his Chicago hotel room Saturday afternoon prior to the Cardinals' scheduled afternoon contest against the Cubs.
The Astros' clubhouse was closed to the media prior to Houston's game against the Mariners, and batting practice was optional. Understandably absent from BP and Saturday's lineup were Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Brad Ausmus, who were among Kile's closest friends.
Astros General Manager Gerry Hunsicker and team owner Drayton McLane spoke on behalf of the organization during an impromptu press conference.
"There's never an appropriate thing to say in a situation like this," Hunsicker said. "You feel sort of helpless. The Houston Astros organization has been hit especially hard, given that Darryl was originally signed by this organization, developed by this organization and obviously had some great years here. He had some very deep and close relationships within this organization, especially with his former teammates who are still members of the Houston Astros."
Kile, who was selected by the Astros in the 30th round of the 1987 June draft, spent 10 years in the Houston organization, making his big league debut on Opening Day in Cincinnati in 1991. "DK," as he was affectionately called by his teammates, threw the ninth no-hitter in club history on September 8, 1993, against the Mets and four years later paced the Astros to their first-ever NL Central Division title with a 19-7 record and a 2.57 ERA.
After taking over ownership of the club in 1992, McLane remembered watching Kile blossom as a pitcher in those early years.
"Darryl was a kind, gentle, thoughtful family person," he said. "A great athlete, someone with huge potential. I think of the great times we had here. The victories, the accomplishments, particularly in September of 1993 when Darryl Kile, against the New York Mets, threw a no-hitter.
"We're very saddened. Many of our players played with him in the minor leagues, played with him for years in this organization and continued to have a very close relationship."
Kile was 71-65 over seven seasons with the Astros from 1991-97. Hunsicker said he will remember Kile as one of the cornerstones of the franchise, whose 19-7 record in 1997 was one of the main reasons that the Astros reached the playoffs that year.
"Pitching was the strength of our championship teams, especially that first one," Hunsicker said. "Darryl had just come into his own and blossomed into a championship-caliber player. As much as Bagwell and Biggio have always been synonymous with the Houston Astros, in those years, Darryl Kile was right there as far as being one of the lead horses."
Despite departing for Colorado as a free agent after that '97 season and eventually landing in St. Louis in 2000, the Houston organization will always remember Kile as one of its own.
"The thing I'll never forget was, when I first came here [in November of 1995], Darryl was really struggling and was sent back to Triple-A the year before," Hunsicker said. "The 1996 season was not an easy year for him, coming back from that. To go from where he was to winning 19 games in '97 was a real special period in his life and certainly one of the more dramatic reversals that I've ever seen a player make from one year to the next."
Alyson Footer covers the Astros for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.