For many years, the Cardinals struggled to find an ace pitcher to lead the staff. They finally found it in Kile. Sadly, his time as a top hurler came to an end in 2002 when, during pregame warmups, someone noticed Kile was missing. When they discovered him in his hotel room, he was already dead of a heart attack.

Later on in the season, after the Cardinals clinched the Central Division championship, slugger Albert Pujols carried Kile's jersey with him on the field during the team celebration.