One More Angel In Heaven
First off, I pray that all of my Southern friends are OK after that horrible storm system moved through Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and especially Tennessee today. Much destruction and more death and injuries than I wanted to see. A bus in a tree?? A car being thrown through a house?? Those storms will be moving through Georgia first and then the Carolinas. I have friends there too. Hold on and be safe!
One last post about that Angel’s pitcher who was killed, and I’ll let it go.
At Least He Had a Day
Just one day, but one when he shared a baseball park with millionaire athletes and All-Stars and 43,283 total, standing atop pitcher’s mound, taller than everyone else.
Nicholas James Adenhart took that much with him Thursday when he was taken from us, robbed most of all from his two families – the Adenharts and the Angels.
Not much and also everything.
Afterward, after Adenhart shut out the Oakland A’s and helped his team to a 4-0 lead, he met with Mike Scioscia.
The Angels manager congratulated him for his effort, for his performance and for his arrival. The last words were the most important.
Adenhart, with a fourth career start decidedly more impressive than the first three, had made it as a major league ballplayer – had arrived – achieving the very thing that drove him most of his life.
Following the game, he shared the occasion with his father, Jim, with friends and with his agent, Scott Boras. He also was certain to share the encouraging words his manager had told him.
"He was elated," Boras said. "He felt like a major leaguer. To see the glow of a young man after he takes a huge step forward is special. It was a great day … and then midnight."
The police spokesman said it was 12:24 a.m. when the call came. A three-car crash in Fullerton.
Three young people would die, killed by another young person who, police confirmed, had consumed too much alcohol to be legally driving.
"Nick fought to get here," Angels general manager Tony Reagins said. "Once he got here, he had to fight to get back."
At least he had a day.
Just one day, but one more than so many others like Adenhart have the chance to experience.
On average, more than 35 people in this country die each day in alcohol-related car accidents. Few of these fatalities are followed by large news conferences or vigils outside stadiums or people calling into radio talk shows weeping.
So let’s make that Adenhart’s final pitch, his last contribution toward a victory. If your senses aren’t shaken by a drunk driver killing a stranger, let’s hope they’re shattered by a drunk driver killing an Angel.
Worse, police said the accused in this case was a repeat offender, a man driving with a license suspended because of a previous violation.
And he’s only 22. The same age Adenhart was until Thursday.
"We are all in shock," Reagins said. "The disbelief is prevalent. It’s just so difficult to put into words how much Nick will be missed."
Words fail, but an image does not. About the time Angels officials were addressing the media at the stadium, Jim Adenhart was in the clubhouse four stories below, sitting silently at his son’s locker.
While making his statement to reporters, Boras sobbed. The biggest, baddest, most hardened agent in baseball quivered in front of the same cameras that previously had captured only his steely glares.
Gulping for air, he muttered twice, "Great kid." Later, Boras was asked if he ever had experienced a comparable death among his clients.
"As you can tell, never," he said. "We’re just emotionally unequipped. We’re not very prepared."
At least he had a day.
Just one day, but one when he was able to stand inside stadium walls and still see the world expanding for him beyond those fences.
No one readies for the death of a healthy 22-year-old with a million tomorrows. Adenhart was supposed to be around here for some time, the rookie one of the Angels’ most promising prospects.
He already had battled through major arm surgery and survived a 2008 season in which he struggled, briefly in the major leagues and then for a longer period in the minors.
"He was poised, disciplined," Reagins said. "Nothing fazed this kid. He dealt with the peaks and valleys of development. Last night, we saw one of his peaks."
Adenhart was the youngest player to participate in the game Wednesday. It was his first major league start since last May. He limited the A’s to no runs by continually escaping danger.
Boras, in talking to Adenhart’s dad, learned that the son had summoned the father from the family’s Baltimore-area home beforehand.
"You better come here," Nick told Jim, according to Boras. "Something special is going to happen."
Outside an empty Angel Stadium on Thursday, fans gathered, placing flowers, candles and Rally Monkeys on the brick pitcher’s mound near the park’s main entrance. At the time the news conference ended, someone also had left a single baseball there.
For his career, Adenhart pitched the equivalent of two complete games for the Angels. One victory. No losses. Only everything still to come.
At least he had a day.
Just one day, but one that – sadly, we all know now – lasted the rest of his life.
Update: The drunk driver has not only been charged with felony DUI and felony Hit and Run but three counts of murder. Throw away the key!!
Have a wonderful weekend!