It may sound cliche, but today proves, once again, that there is indeed, crying in baseball. It’s utterly heartbreaking. For the second time in less than five years, my beloved St Louis Cardinals have been rocked with the loss of one of their own. I didn’t know Josh Hancock. Despite getting the opportunity to meet nearly the entire bullpen at Spring Training, I never as much came across Josh one of the practice fields. Still, on this beautiful April Sunday, Cards fans all over the country surely flashed back to June 22, 2002, when starting pitcher Darryl Kile died of a heart attack in his hotel room in Chicago. Legendary announcer Jack Buck had passed away just a few days before.
A heart attack and a car accident; at the surface, the circumstances couldn’t be more different. The lingering effects of Kile’s death are still evident around Busch Stadium, from the black circle on the dugout wall, to the plaque in the clubhouse, to the tattoo on Jim Edmonds’ wrist. Like 2002, the team, the city, the fans will struggle in the coming days. I already am. Ironically, both pitchers lives were lost in the midst of series versus the arch rival Chicago Cubs. Both times, the games have been postponed, because sometimes, there are just things more important than baseball. Both times, Cubs fans have gone out of their way to be accomodating, and for that, I thank them.
Once again we are reminded, brutally, that life is all too short and all too precious. To tell our friends and family what they mean to us while we can. To do what we can for others while we still have the time. To give of ourselves. To enjoy the little things. To realize that it is just a game, and that despite the fact the defending World Champions are off to a slow start, we’re blessed enough just to have that World Championship.
In the meantime, Josh, I have no doubt that you are in heaven, in now what has become the Cardinals Official Cheering Session. Thank you for helping us to the World Series last year, and for being the only player to show up at the World Series DVD premiere party. May you rest in peace. I know Jack Buck, Darryl Kile, and Darrel Porter have welcomed you with open arms. You’re in good company, and you’ll be truly missed. By your fans, by your teammates, by your family.
"Thanks for the time, this time; until next time – so long for just awhile!" ~ Jack Buck