This One's For Nick: The Story Of The 2009 Angels

Jesse KramerCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 23:  The baseball jersey of deceased pitcher Nick Adenhart #34 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hangs in the Angels dugout during the baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium on May 23, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Adenhart died in a traffic accident on April 9.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

On April 9, 2009, one of the biggest tragedies in baseball history occurred.

Shortly after midnight, a speeding Toyota ran a red light and rammed into the car containing Nick Adenhart. Adenhart was rushed to The University of California, Irvine Medical Center, but it was too late. The injuries from the crash cause the death of the young pitcher.

A few hours prior, Adenhart had a pitched a gem. The right-hander threw six shutout innings allowing only seven hits while walking five and striking seven.

161 games later, the Angels are one game away from sweeping the Boston Red Sox and moving on to the ALCS. The motivation for their success in 2009--the death of their young pitcher.

It all started against the Red Sox after the fourth game of the series against Oakland had been postponed. Before the game on April 10th, the Angels honored Adenhart with the most emotion possible.

Torii Hunter and John Lackey held the jersey of Adenhart on the mound with their heads bowed down. Afterwards, Nick's jersey was hung up on the back wall of the dugout.

Hunter then went out to take his position in centerfield before the start of the game. He touched the photo of Adenhart on the centerfield wall while his eyes filled up with tears.

Before Jered Weaver threw out the first pitch of the game, he sketched Nick Adenhart's initials into the dirt on the pitcher's mound.

Weaver pumped out 6 2/3 innings, allowing only 1 unearned run as he fought off the tears. The Angels went on to win 6-3. This was a new Angels team. It was no longer the team that had struggled against the A's.

On October 10th, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will battle the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALDS. Scott Kazmir will deal against Clay Buchholz. It will be tough to find any reason to root against this Angels ball club.