It’s no secret that I’m not a huge baseball fan.
I can’t watch a game of baseball on TV to save my life, unless it’s the World Series and involves the Chicago Cubs. So basically I have never actually watched an entire baseball game. Sad, really.
I am, however, a fan of courage and dignity. I’m a fan of heroes.
I’m a fan of Nick Adenhart.
In high school, Nick had been projected as a top 10 draft pick, when as luck would have it, he injured his elbow just two weeks prior to the 2004 MLB draft which required him to have Tommy John surgery, dropping him to the 413th overall pick in the 14th round.
Some might see this as an incredible defeat. Not Nick Adenhart
He continued to play his heart out and a hungry Anaheim team noticed. They decided to take a chance on him.
He made his major league debut as the starting pitcher on May 1, 2008.
Sadly, he would only get to see the bright lights of Angel Stadium shining upon him for one more year.
No doubt you’ve heard the story by now. On April 9th, Nick and three of his friends were driving home when their car was struck by a drunk driver. Three of them died, including Nick. He fought for his life, but another miracle just wasn’t in the cards for him.
Just hours before he had pitched his best game, with his father sitting in the stands rooting him on.
“He summoned his father the day before and he said, ‘You better come here because something special’s gonna happen,’” said Scott Boras, Adenhart’s agent.
I guess if I were to look at the bright side of this tragedy, it would be that father and son had the perfect good-bye.
“To, I think, focus on his loss is not what we need to do here today, we need to focus on who Nick was and his achievement”, Boras said. “His parents really want to communicate to everyone that it’s a very difficult moment, but it’s also a very special moment because Nick was most accomplished in his life’s goal was to be a major league baseball player and he certainly achieved that standard”.
The following day, Adenhart’s father walked onto the field in the empty stadium and spent several moments alone on the pitcher’s mound. Wearing a red sweatshirt, the Angels’ color, he briefly covered his eyes with one hand.
He missed him.
It’s been nearly a month since that fatal day where 3 innocent lives were taken, but Nick Adenhart’s memory still lives on.
Every game the Angels play, there sits Adenhart’s jersey, hanging in the locker room or in the dug-out as if he's with the team.
“He’s just like all of us”, Ken Higdon, Angels’ clubhouse manager says. “He travels with us everywhere we go.”
Hidgon continues to say, “You look at him and he’s a pretty special dude. He had his stuff together and he worked hard. He was unbelievable. Just a really good kid”
There was a small memorial held for Nick and I remember seeing a picture of a baseball with something scribbled on it. As I read the inscription, I got chills. Written on the baseball was, “One more Angel."
Nick, you left as an Angel and now you will forever remain an Angel.
Coincidence? I don't think so.
You are now those bright lights shining down on your teammates in the stadium.
The spotlight is all yours.