Nick Adenhart was tragically killed on April 9th, 2009 while riding in a car that was struck by a drunk driver. The accident happened just hours after the 22 year old made his first start against the season in which he threw 6 scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics. Adenhart died during surgery at the UC Irvine Medical Center. Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart, who were both passengers in the car, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Jon Wilhite was the lone survivor.
Traditionally, when a Major League Baseball team secures a playoff spot, they have a party in the clubhouse where they spray champagne and beer all over the place. On Monday night, the Angels won the American League West and clinched a playoff berth. While celebrating in the clubhouse, the Angels grabbed the jersey of the late Nick Adenhart and began pouring champagne on it.
Many people criticized this action because Adenhart was killed as a result of a drunk driver and the fact that they were putting alcohol on his jersey was insensitive.
This celebration was the furthest thing from insensitive and there is no reason to criticize anyone on the Angels for what they did. Reliever Kevin Jepsen said it best when he stated that, “We wanted to celebrate with him like he was here…if he was still here with us, we’d be pouring beer on him just like everyone else in here.”
After celebrating in the club house the Angels gathered as a team and ran out to the outfield where a picture of Adenhart is posted on the outfield wall. Each member of the team touched the picture and the team took a picture, so that Nick would be included amongst the American League West Champion Angels. It was a great moment to witness and one that will never be forgotten.
The way the Angels celebrated was incredibly heart-warming and moving. It was apparent that the tribute was heart-felt and genuine. Outfielder Torii Hunter said that, “Every time you come to the stadium and you go in that club house; you’re looking at Nick Adenhart’s locker.” The moment on Monday night showed that the players still consider Nick Adenhart a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels will continue playing the remainder of the 2009 season in memory of Nick Adenhart, but it is clear that the Angels’ players love this kid like a brother and that he will be remembered for many more seasons to come.
A video of the Angels remembering Adenhart: