|Angels Show Class in Remembering Adenhart|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on April 13, 2009
Yet for fans and teammates this is a world changing event too.Â For many, especially the younger players and fans, this is the first time they are dealing with the loss of someone they knew.Â The kid who was standing at that locker just yesterday is never coming back.
And they all need to learn how to deal with the emotions, the sadness, and the promise that Nick Adenhart, and his friends, will never get to fulfill.
For the family, the tragedy is the worst.Â Yet, the Angels in many ways were family.Â They were men who spent hours, days and sometime even minor league seasons together.Â A team, especially for a young player is more than just a collection of coworkers; itâ€™s an adoptive family.Â There are role models, friends, teachers, and even advisers and father figures who you travel with and see more than the family who gave you your name.Â They are there for success, for failure and even there to help you when you get into trouble.
Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher was sitting alongside Nickâ€™s father, Jim Adenhart, at UC Irvine Medical Center when the younger Adenhart died.Â Together they identified the body in the morgue after the fact, and together they mourned the young man and his friends.
For the fans the outpouring of feeling has made itself known on sports radio, where rants about the sale of alcohol at games have reared themselves.Â Flowers, notes and condolences are being left at makeshift memorials at the corner of Orangethorpe Avenue, where a drunken driver plied his minivan into the side of the automobile carrying Adenhart and his friends, as well as on the concrete â€śpitchers moundâ€ť outside Angels Stadium.Â
Inside the stadium itâ€™s a different matter.Â Just hours after the accident, Jim Adenhart addressed the team in a clubhouse gathering and, according to Torii Hunter and team officials, more or less thanked the team for letting his son live out his dream, both in the minors and finally at the big league level.Â It was a meeting which drove the reality of the loss home to the players.
The Angels postponed their game against the Aâ€™s that day.Â By the next day the Angels organization had rolled out its own tribute, by placing a huge picture of Adenhart on the centerfield wall, by announcing that the team would wear a patch in tribute to number 34 the rest of the season, flying the flags at the ballpark at half mast in mourning, and in planning a moment of silence before Fridayâ€™s game against Boston.
But it is the reactions of the players to the loss which strikes a cord deep within our gut as we watch them deal with a loss that is far more personal than it is to those of us who never knew Nick.Â Watching Torii Hunter and John Lackey carry Adenhartâ€™s jersey out to the mound one final time, and seeing Hunter go up to the mural to touch it before play began, and Jered Weaver writing Adenhartâ€™s number 34 in the dirt of the mound prior to his pitching the game showed how intensely they were feeling the loss.
That jersey of Adenhartâ€™s hangs in the Angels dugout. During the following games, many players have paid tribute to him by stopping there, to touch it, or just to say their personal goodbyes.Â And their tributes to a teammate are ongoing, not just for the sake of Adenhart, but for their personal healing.Â Adenhartâ€™s locker in the dressing room will remain untouched for the rest of the season, and by the decree of his teammates, he will be assigned a locker, and his jersey carried with them wherever on the road they play this season.
Itâ€™s a classy thing being done by the organization and by his teammates, as they mourn a teammate and friend and deal with a tragedy that should never have happened.