Nick Adenhart Dead at 22: Another Reason To Cherish Your Life

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IApril 9, 2009

TEMPE, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Nick Adenhart #90 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim poses for a portrait during photo day at Tempe Diablo Stadium February 22, 2008 in Tempe, Arizona.   (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Another car accident has taken the life of a Major League Baseball player.

Just hours after he pitched six scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics in his 2009 season debut, Los Angeles Angels 22-year-old rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in a hit-and-run accident after a drunk driver in a minivan ran a red light.

The driver's blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit. After fleeing the scene on foot, he is now in custody of the authorities and faces serious jail time. However, the effects of the crash are now being felt around the baseball community.

Adenhart's career record was 1-0 in four starts since his debut last May—also against the Athletics—and being tabbed the Angels' top prospect coming into the season, there certainly would have been many more. He not only pitched for the American League West champs, but he also represented his country this past summer in Beijing at the Olympics.

Without a doubt, there was a bright future ahead of him.

I'm 22 years old, as Adenhart was and will remain. At an age when so many people are still struggling to to discover what their true calling in life is, he had made his major league debut and looked set to have a fine career with nothing but highway in front of him.

He broke camp this spring with a spot in the Angels rotation, and certainly his first and last start this season showed he could hang with the big boys of baseball despite his tender age.

We're the same age and I'm writing about his death. It's something incredible to imagine.

But that's what this intoxicated red light runner has done and thanks to him, we will never be able to see Adenhart win a game in 2009 and many more in the next few years as he would have continued to learn his craft.

Let us not forget that there were two other people killed in this crash, the driver of Andenhart's car as well as a fellow passenger, but the Angels pitcher will certainly get the headlines because of what he did for a living.

As many people will say, this just isn't about baseball or balls and strikes. This is life, and there's no taking it back.

Writing about a player separated by only two months on a birth certificate is hard to do. It's nothing easy and it never will be. Even if you aren't a writer and just a follower of baseball, your stomach has to be in knots and your thoughts going to the kid's family.

His life was taken from him and he had no control over it. Nothing he could do at all.

No matter what the Angels did to my beloved San Francisco Giants in the 2002 World Series, this kind of news makes me think about life as a whole. A kid pitching in the majors, the same age as I am, was killed almost as fast as he threw his fastball.

His big league career was taken away from him almost as soon as it started.

Unlike Adenhart, I will be going to work tomorrow and my parents will be able to see the fruits of my labor. I will be able to tell them how work is going and will be able to talk to them whenever I want to.

"This is a tragedy that will never be forgotten," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

As a baseball fan my entire life and a 22-year-old kid who loves the game, I echo his words.