JUPITER, Fla. (KMOX) - The St. Louis Cardinals have 13 numbers officially retired and a handful of others that have been essentially untouchable for some time. No. 57 – last worn in a game on June 18, 2002 by pitcher Darryl Kile – was one of them.
Kile died three days after pitching in what would be his last game, while he was in his Chicago hotel room before the Cardinals were set to face the Cubs.
Hanging in the Spring Training locker of Cardinals 23-year-old pitcher Zach Thompson is the No. 57 on a red Cardinals jersey. He'll wear it for workouts and in all likelihood will appear in a Spring Training competition with it.
“If they want me to represent that number,” Thompson to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I’ll respect it and try ... I was kind of surprised they give that number out, that it wouldn’t stay retired."
Thompson is listed as the organization's fifth-best overall and second-best pitching prospect, according to Keith Law of The Athletic. He's described as a guy with "electric stuff from the left side," most notably a fastball and curveball.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak says the decision to give the number to Thompson was not an easy one. He and head clubhouse manager Mark Walsh asked themselves, "Who would wear it with great pride?"
"The significance of what Darryl Kile means to this organization is still very real,” Mozeliak says. "To me, it’s almost full circle. I think it’s nice that it doesn’t lay in this awkward spot of not used, not retired, and when people get to wear that now they’ll get to reflect on the legacy of Darryl Kile, who he was. I actually think this is a special moment, and that it’s going to be a perpetual moment."
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