Cardinal family loses a friend, a teacher, a legend

by on October 8, 2008 · 1 comment

George Kissell
1920-2008

Longtime Cardinal player, coach, and teacher George Kissell passed away yesterday from injuries sustained in a car accident Monday night in St Petersburg FL.

Kissell has been a long-time instructor with the Cardinals, teaching scores of players young and old, how to play the game of baseball.

Derrick Goold recounted a great story he wrote from Spring Training in 2005 in a post over at Bird Land yesterday, that pretty much captured Kissell and what he meant to the organization.

The story told of the first day of that year’s camp, when the Jupiter FL compound’s clubhouse was named for Kissell with a plaque that partially reads:

“Every player in the Cardinals’ Organization since 1940 has had contact with George Kissell and they have all been better for it. … Well known for his emphasis on fundamentals, George taught several generations of Redbirds how to play baseball.”

Kissell’s response?

“I’ve always been known as a hard-nosed guy, but today you really touched me to my heart,” Kissell told the players and gathered ownership and management. “I’ll never take the bird off my chest. When I take them off, that’s my last day in baseball.”

“I’ll never take the bird off my chest.”  What dedication this man had, what profound commitment not only to the Cardinal organization, but to teaching others the game he loved.

“There’s only one way to play baseball,” Kissell once said, “the Cardinals’ way.”

The Cards, and baseball as a whole, will miss you George.

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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