It's never easy to lose a loved one. But that's what happened to the St. Louis Cardinals this week when longtime franchise staple, George Kissell, died tragically in a car accident in Florida.
Kissell, born in 1920, spent 69 years in the organization. He served as everything from a player, scout, coach, and manager. Called "The Professor" by many who knew him, Kissell was a self-proclaimed "hard-nosed guy", but was loved by essentially everyone in the organization.
He has made an impact on several players throughout Cardinal history. In the early stages of minor league baseball, Kissell was there, serving under Branch Rickey, managing, and instructing the youth of the game.
Youngsters all the way from Joe Torre to Albert Pujols have been affected by his knowledge. In a 1989 Sports Illustrated article entitled "The College of Cardinals," Kissell was described as the dean. He wasn't always heard from, but his knowledge and reach touched everybody.
Although he became less and less of a central figure as his wife's health faded and he remained at home, Kissell never was forgotten in St. Louis.
In 1993 he received a "King of Baseball" award for his contributions to minor league baseball. In 2003 he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2005 he even coached the All-Star game with Tony La Russa.
Despite the awful void that is certain to be felt when 2009 Spring Training starts, when Kissell's absence will be felt the most, one thing is for certain: Kissell might have moved on, but his presence in baseball will be felt still for many years to come.
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