O'FALLON, MO (KPLR)-- When the Gateway Grizzlies took the field Monday night to play a critical game, they had more on their minds then just baseball. Monday morning, they learned one of their most outstanding players last season was found dead, under circumstances that are troubling and still a bit puzzling.
Sunday night, O`Fallon, Missouri police found the body of Kent Gerst, 24, in the water under the West Terra Lane bridge across Peruque Creek.
No one is sure how his body ended up there, or how he died, but friends say he had been in a fight Saturday night just a couple of blocks away in the parking lot at Moudy`s Bar and Grill.
Police are not giving details until after they get autopsy results, but friends say Gerst had been punched several times in the head, and had last been seen running to get away from the fight.
Officials are not providing details on what led to the fight itself, but friends and family say Gerst was not a brawler, but rather a kind a gentle person, making what happened even more strange.
'The last thing I want to do is speculate,' said Grizzlies manager Phil Warren.
'I just want to remember the good times we had with him, and the person he was with us and what I remember about him, which was all great.'
Teammate Landon Hernandez remembers Gerst as a fun loving man, who also loved baseball.
'He played the game hard, he loved being here, he`d come to the field everyday always happy to be here and he always had a smile on his face.'
Gerst had been a star athlete at Ft. Zumwalt West High School.
'He worked tirelessly and wanted to be as good as he could be,' said Mike Rimmer, Gerst`s high school baseball coach.
After high school, Gerst has been drafted by the Chicago White Sox, playing for several farm clubs, and professional teams. He played a half season as an outfielder with the Grizzlies in 2011, but was released at the end of his contract because, according to the team`s manager, his level of experience would have commanded a salary higher than the league`s salary cap.
Family members say Gerst had his ups and downs in life, including a DWI arrest in April for which he received a suspended sentence and two years probation just last week. Family members say on Saturday night, he had gone to the bar with a friend and left his car at home.
'He was just a great kid, he was always smiling and always laughing and a great athlete as everyone knows,' said family friend John Laufer.
'It`s just a tough day.'