Monday, April 30, 2007

R.I.P. Josh Hancock

Josh Hancock wasn't a star, but he was living EVERY child and young man's dream - he was a major league baseball player... Hancock was a role player, someone who often times had to do the thankless job of pitching in blowout games... Nonetheless, he was very happy to be there and as a member of the 2006 World Champion St. Louis Cardinal baseball team he had that precious ring that no one could ever take away from him. His numbers weren't spectacular, but they were good enough last year (a 4.09 ERA and a very impressive 1.21 WHIP) that I had kept a close eye on him in spring training with the injury problems of closer Jason Isringhausen... He had good enough stuff to someday be an effective closer. Sadly, that day will never come as Hancock was tragically killed early yesterday morning in a single car accident with a stopped tow truck. He was only 29 years old.

The moment yesterday afternoon in Orlando International Airport when I first heard about this tragedy, I harkened back to June 22, 2002 when another Cardinals pitcher, Darryl Kile, died in his hotel room from a heart attack. He was only 33 years of age... Kile, as some of you will recall, was an All-Star pitcher with the Houston Astros. He won 19 games in 1997 with a 2.57 ERA - numbers that were in the top 3 in the league in both categories. Kile was exiled to Colorado in 1998 and 1999 and his numbers, like most all pitchers who go there, suffered a lot those two years. Kile was signed by the Cardinals in 2000 and was an All-Star again that year, producing his only 20 win season.

I still remember that day in 2002 that Kile was taken from us... and it REALLY shook me as he was almost a year and a half younger than me when he passed on and he was in the PRIME of his career! I had literally also been in my new townhouse for all of a week when this happened, so it's something that I just don't forget. Hancock never reached the level of success that Kile did, but he was a very integral part of the Cardinals bullpen, being used mostly as a situational and long reliever. As I mentioned above, Josh often had the thankless job of "mopping up" in games that were blowouts... His final appearance just hours earlier before he was taken from us was in one of those "mop up" sitations... Josh came in to pitch with the Cardinals trailing 7-0 in the 6th inning... He pitched three effective innings in that last game - striking out two batters and allowing a run, while retiring the final four batters he faced...

Tragedies like this always put things into perspective and show us just how precious and fragile this life is. Remember your loved ones at this time... tell them how you feel about them. Give them a call, give them a hug... tell them that you love them. Tonight, please keep the Hancock family and the St. Louis Cardinal family in your thoughts and prayers...

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