Teammates remember Hancock
Pitcher made many friends throughout the big leagues
ST. LOUIS -- The men who celebrated the 2006 World Series championship with Josh Hancock remembered him Sunday as a likeable, approachable teammate and good friend.
Hancock pitched for four teams in his Major League career, playing with plenty of acquaintances, friends and teammates. From day one in St. Louis, he seemed to fit in, and he was happy to welcome new teammates into the fold as they arrived.
"He was my card-playing buddy and we hung out quite a bit," said Mariner and former Cardinal Jeff Weaver, who bonded with Hancock even though the two only played together for four months.
"He was easy to talk to," Weaver said. "Very sociable. He enjoyed people's company and hanging out with guys. Baseball was what he was about."
Weaver received a call on Sunday morning from Cardinals reliever Randy Flores.
"It's definitely a phone call I've never had before," Weaver said. "You always see it every day, but somebody like that where you've enjoyed one of the best experiences of your life with, it kind of sets you back."
The '06 world championship team was assembled from a wide range of different places, and Hancock was emblematic of how that club came together. Released by the Reds in Spring Training, he signed with St. Louis and went on to enjoy a fine season as a Cardinal. Weaver, like Hancock, was let go by his previous team -- traded by the Angels after being designated for assignment.
Cardinals starter Braden Looper, the team's player representative, spent the '06 season in the bullpen with Hancock before moving into the starting rotation. He addressed the assembled media at Busch Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
"This has obviously been a very difficult time for me and the Cardinal family," Looper said. "Josh was a great teammate and a great friend to everybody. And he was a key part of our success last year winning the World Series.
"We just ask that as we try to get through this as a team, that you keep Josh's family in your prayers and thoughts. It's obviously probably unimaginable on them as well."
Brewers pitcher Jeff Suppan, who pitched for the Cardinals from 2004-06, heard from several of his ex-teammates on Sunday morning. The Cards and Brewers are scheduled to play in Milwaukee in a series starting Monday.
"It's very shocking," Suppan said. "He was a good guy, kind of quiet and soft-spoken. He was part of the team. I feel for his family and the organization."
Manager Tony La Russa met with the team in the clubhouse before they headed north to Milwaukee. For La Russa, it was the second time in five years he lost one of his players, following Darryl Kile's death in 2002.
"He was a lot of fun and a terrific teammate," La Russa said of Hancock. "So trust me when I tell you this is brutal to go through. If it happens in your family, it's brutal. If it happens here, where you still have to perform, what this team is going to go through is...
"So, however you can, I ask for some help."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.