"Do NOT disrespect David Veres!"
Apparently, in a truly unexpected development, it’s turning into Dave Veres Week in the Cardinals blogosphere. Veres is attempting a comeback with the Rockies, and I hope he makes it. If I recall correctly, he needs only days in order to reach 10 years service time and thus receive a pension. Not that he’s poor, but I hate to see guys fall just short of that. Anyway. I wanted to share my recollections and appreciate of Veres from what was a very challenging season.
I only covered Veres for a year — his last year in St. Louis was my first year on the beat. And after that year, I will always pull for him, admire him and respect him. I didn’t get to know Veres well, obviously, but he was greatly helpful and classy.
My first year covering the Cardinals was the year Darryl Kile died. I had been on the beat for exactly four months when I heard the news. I actually wasn’t with the team in Chicago — I was in Omaha, covering the College World Series for MLB.com. I headed home, and then to Chicago, and got to Wrigley a few hours before the Sunday night game the next day.
Over the ensuing days, and even weeks, there was more and more to be written about Kile. It was an extremely unpleasant job. These guys have all just lost a friend and teammate, and we have to pry and ask about it. I never have held it against any of the guys who didn’t want to cooperate. People grieve in different ways, and talking to a reporter is not high on many people’s lists of ways to cope.
For Veres, however, it was apparently helpful. He told us stories of him and Darryl, of his family and Darryl’s family. They were dear friends going back several years. The families lived right next to each other and celebrated holidays together. DK had some good friends on that team, but I don’t know that anyone, even Matt Morris, was closer to him than Veres was.
So Dave would tell us about Darryl. He’d patiently and graciously answer every question. It was a great show of dignity and class, and respect for us as well as his friend. I will never forget that. So thanks, Dave, and good luck.
One side note: the title of this post refers to a TLR outburst. One night in his office after a game, someone asked a question about a rough night for Veres, and TLR — who also had great respect for him — responded with those exact words. I’m not sure why it was funny, but it’s a line some of us still throw around in the press box to this day.
Side note 2: After a hard-fought Sunday night game in Atlanta in which Veres gave up a game-winning (game-ending, actually, I think) home run to Gary Sheffield, he gave one of my favorite quotes. The pitch was a splitter that dove. It was down, out of the strike zone, legitimately a good pitch that Sheffield just crushed because he’s Gary Sheffield. We had to go talk to Veres, and we had to come up with a way to ask him about the pitch.
So my question to him was: "Dave, it seemed like that was a pretty decent pitch. Was there anything more you could have done?"
His response: "Yeah. Check his bat."
Gallows humor is better than no humor at all.
Now playing: Pearl Jam, live in Milan 6/22/2000.