When Chris Heston no-hit the Mets Tuesday night, it was the first time that the Mets lineup didn’t record a hit since September 8, 1993. The streak was the fifth-longest streak in Major League baseball, with only the Cubs, Athletics, Reds, and Red Sox having gone longer without a goose egg in the hit column.
The no-no was thrown by a then 24-year-old Darryl Kile pitching for the Houston Astros, then of the National League West. The Mets lineup at the Astrodome that day featured a young Jeromy Burnitz and Jeff Kent, an old Eddie Murray, and Joe Orsulak batting cleanup. Butch Huskey was making his MLB debut.
It took Kile only 83 pitches to complete the no-hitter, meaning it was a Maddux – a complete game where the pitcher throws fewer than 100 pitches.
A single walk in the fourth inning – drawn by shortstop Jeff McKnight is all that stood between Kile and perfection. McKnight also scored a run in that trip around the bases, when Kile uncorked a wild pitch, and McKnight was able to get to third base, then score on an error by first baseman Jeff Bagwell on the same play. So pretty much your run-of-the-mill two-base wild pitch and E3 to score a run.
Houston Astros blog Crawfish Boxes remembered the no-no in an article last year:
“Kile was also the beneficiary of some spectacular defensive plays behind him, though. Ken Caminiti manning the hot corner and Andujar Cedeno at shortstop made back-to-back plays on hard hit balls in the top of the seventh inning to preserve Kile’s no-hitter.”
The win would improve Kile’s record to 15-6 in the first of his three All-Star campaigns. His career, of course would come to a premature and tragic halt on June 22, 2002, when Kile was found deceased in his hotel room as the St. Louis Cardinals prepared to square off against the Chicago Cubs.
A teary-eyed Joe Girardi, then a catcher for the Cubs took the field a few minutes after the first pitch had been scheduled and delivered one of the most chilling on-field moments in baseball history.
“We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinals family,” Girardi began. “That the commissioner has cancelled the game today.”
The crowd sat in silence. Girardi could not announce the nature of the tragedy, as Kile’s wife, Flynn, didn’t know of Darryl’s passing.
Kile, who died at age 33 from two coronary arteries which were 90% blocked. His father died young at age 44 from a similar condition. Kile was the first active-duty major leaguer to die since Thurman Munson in 1979.
Kile had a nice career, with successful stays in Houston and St. Louis sandwiched around two bad years with the Colorado Rockies. He was by all reports a good person, and both the Astros and Cardinals award the Darryl Kile Good Guy Award to the player who best exemplifies Kile’s characteristics: a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father, and a humble man.
Nearly thirteen years have passed since the Kile tragedy, so let us use the no-hitter thrown by Heston as a way to remind us of the legacy of a good ballplayer, and a great man.