It’s taken me a couple of days to gather my thoughts on the tragedy that occurred to a young Angels pitcher and his 3 friends last Wednesday night. For those of you who may not have heard, rookie Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, 22, and three of his companions were involved in a hit and run drunk driving accident in the early hours of last Thursday. Adenhart and two of his three friends were killed when a drunk driver with a BAC three times the legal limit ran through a red light in Fullerton and broadsided their vehicle. The driver then attempted to flee the scene but was found and later detained. Earlier that evening, Adenhart had just pitched the best game of his young career against the Oakland Athletics.
When news of this tragedy first reached me, I was in shock. As most of you are probably aware, I’m a huge baseball fan and a devout follower of the Angels. I recently took a job as a fan photographer for Angels home games, and I was at the game that Wednesday night that Nick pitched in his final game. As a relatively young Angels fan myself, I had taken an interest in the young prospect because, being a year younger than me, he was the first player that I knew of to be younger than me in the Major Leagues. Beyond that, we shared the same first name, and based on a few stories I had read about him, we seemed to have the same quiet demeanor. In a way, I guess, I found myself able to identify with him, athletic talent not withstanding.
Adenhart was first called up to the majors last year, in 2008, for a few spot starts due to injuries in the Angels’ rotation. The young phenom would finally get a chance to show what he was capable of against Major League hitting. Unfortunately, things did not go well for him in his first couple of starts, and even though he collected his first Win as an Angel, he was sent down to the minors for the rest of the season. For 2009, injuries again allowed Adenhart to earn a spot on the opening day rotation, and this time, after several good starts in spring training, he was able to dominate in his first start in April against a fairly formidable A’s lineup. Although he did not win the game (as the bullpen would give away the lead in later innings), that Nick pitched well was an understatement.
It was only hours later that he was senselessly killed. This was not an accident through any fault of his own. He nor his friends were drunk. They were all wearing their seatbelts. They were proceeding through a routine green light at a routine intersection. And just like that, he was gone.
I’ve talked about the baseball aspects of Nick mainly because I never got the chance to meet him in person. There are people far more qualified than me who have written far more personally about the event then I ever could. I feel so much for his family, for the players that played with him, for his friends. By all accounts he was as good of a kid as any. As a fan, I felt like I was losing a friend. I could not even begin to imagine what those who actually knew him have been feeling.
As I’ve said, there are others who have been able to say things that I am unable to. While I haven’t scoured the nets looking for articles about the tragedy (given that I get teary-eyed just thinking about it), below I’ve listed a few good places to start to get a better idea of who this young man was that we lost so early to drunk driving.
Lyle Spencer, Angels beat writer – Remembering Nick
“Rev Halofan”, owner of Halosheaven.com – The Loss of Nick Adenhart
Bill Shaikin, LA Time writer – Alone with his grief in baseball cathedral
Dustin Moseley, Angels pitcher – video press conference
Torii Hunter, Angels outfielder – MLB network phone call
Someone on Halos Heaven mentioned that God needed Nick for his own All-Star team. I think that’s probably the best way anyone can put it.