Remembering Nick

Nick Adenhart grinned in that shy, off-hand manner of his and told me he liked my sweater. I thanked him and told him I’d try to find one just like it for him. He might have thought I was kidding, but I was serious. It was going right to the top of my to-do list.

I wanted to go over to his locker after the group interview on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium for a few private minutes with him, to let him know how happy I was for him. I’d developed a lot of affection for him these past few years, and it had been painful to watch him struggle when he came up last May, searching for the right stuff and not finding it. He wasn’t quite ready, maybe, but he had complete confidence that he would figure it out. I could see that. I wasn’t worried about Nick. He had courage and confidence to go with the tools. He was going places. It was just a matter of time.

Now, in his fourth Major League start, he’d shut out the A’s for six innings, using not just his physical gifts but the knowledge and intelligence he’d acquired over a winter of intently studying his craft. But I had other interviews to do and a story to go write, so I did what I do. I’d have a nice sit-down with Nick next chance I got.   

A few hours later, having pitched a game that I was convinced was going to be his springboard to a long, successful career and certain stardom, he was struck down in one of those senseless accidents. Nick Adenhart, who I’d grown to care so much about, was gone.

I’ve been doing this, writing professionally about athletes and the games they play, for four decades. But I am not capable enough to express my grief over the news of Nick’s death. It is too deep, too profound. He was not just another talented young ballplayer with a big arm and a big future. He was a wonderful young man, one I’d have been proud to call a son. Or a son in law.

I have two daughters, no sons. In my travels as a sportswriter across the map over the years I have forged bonds with athletes from different angles and perspectives. There was a time, when I was young and full of life, that I socialized with some guys generous enough and adventurous enough to welcome me into their worlds. We had some good times.

As I got older, the relationship with young athletes evolved into something more paternal. With some athletes, such as Nick, I began to feel protective, as I would a son. There were times when they would confide in me and if they asked, I would offer advice, counsel. It had nothing to do with my work, really. It was about making connections with people I cared about. Nick certainly was one of these people, along with at least a dozen other young Angels.

Nick and I would have brief talks, occasionally a long one. This spring, stretching out at a table outside the clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium, he opened up about a variety of subjects. There was a shy quality about him I always found endearing, and I felt honored that he would confide in me.

The story I ended up writing was about how he’d spent the winter studying the masters on video, such legends as Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux. Nick was completely absorbed in becoming as good as he could be. He dreamed about being a big-league pitcher since he was 8 or 9 years old, and here he was, on the threshold.

It meant everything to him. I don’t mind admitting I was pulling hard for him.

Writing through tears is never easy. I weep for his family, for friends and teammates past and present, for anyone who had the good fortune to get to know Nick Adenhart.

He was a prince of a young man. I’m feeling empty and lost today knowing I won’t be having any more talks with Nick, and that I won’t go searching for another sweater like the blue/green one he took a fancy to on the night he showed that he had the right stuff to be a great Major League pitcher for many years to come.

   

48 Comments

This was a wonderful entry. He seemed like a wonderful young man who was taken from us too soon. Being 22 myself, this hits hard in reminding me that I’m mortal. My thoughts are with his family and with the Angels organization. RIP Nick.
Jen
http://ajroxmywhitesox.mlblogs.com

Very nice tribute. I’m sorry for your loss.

Chris

http://bird-brained.mlblogs.com

Thanks for sharing your experience. The more people share their experience with some one who has passed, the more we look at our own lives and hope we leave that impression on others. I have a feeling the Halos are going to be one of the top 4 teams when it comes to the postseason…just a hunch. God Bless all who was involved in his life.

http://nwest33.mlblogs.com/

This just isn’t fair, my prayers go out to the Adenhart family. Things like this bring us back own to reality and make us realize how fragile life is. I hope the person that did this to him gets a life sentence because the pain that he inflicted on Nick’s biological family and baseball family, will last a life time. Your’e in a better place Nick… A true angel…
Mike

This just isn’t fair, my prayers go out to the Adenhart family. Things like this bring us back own to reality and make us realize how fragile life is. I hope the person that did this to him gets a life sentence because the pain that he inflicted on Nick’s biological family and baseball family, will last a life time. Your’e in a better place Nick… A true angel…
Mike

This just isn’t fair, my prayers go out to the Adenhart family. Things like this bring us back own to reality and make us realize how fragile life is. I hope the person that did this to him gets a life sentence because the pain that he inflicted on Nick’s biological family and baseball family, will last a life time. Your’e in a better place Nick… A true angel…
Mike

Thank you for sharing.

Jesse

Lyle, you honored Nick’s all-too-short life with every word of this post. Thanks for bringing an appropriate personal touch to a tragic event, and in a way that can only be healing for those touched by this young man.

Giving a glimpse into your soul the way you did here is what makes you special, Lyle. I don’t mind saying that here, as a colleague and a friend, and I do so in complete deference to the tragedy at hand, as I’m sure you’d want. What’s important here is that it was Nick’s soul you were celebrating and mourning at the same time, and by doing so you enriched my appreciation for the mark Nick left on this world. Deepest condolences to Nick’s family.

– js

Lyle, you honored Nick’s all-too-short life with every word of this post. Thanks for bringing an appropriate personal touch to a tragic event, and in a way that can only be healing for those touched by this young man.

Giving a glimpse into your soul the way you did here is what makes you special, Lyle. I don’t mind saying that here, as a colleague and a friend, and I do so in complete deference to the tragedy at hand, as I’m sure you’d want. What’s important here is that it was Nick’s soul you were celebrating and mourning at the same time, and by doing so you enriched my appreciation for the mark Nick left on this world. Deepest condolences to Nick’s family.

– js

What a beautiful tribute! My blog mentioned yesterday how I’d be pulling for Nick last night. And I was. What a senseless tragedy. I am praying for his family. Thanks for giving me some great insight into this talented young man. I hope his family finds some comfort in your eloquent words. He will be missed.
Lori

I just wanted to express my regrets at the news of your great loss. As a Cardinals fan I know exactly what you are going through. The Cards lost a wonderful young man named Josh Hancock after a game in St.Louis in 2007. Just five years earlier, we lost Daryk Kile before he was due to start a Saturday game against the Cubs. Josh Hancock’s birthday would be this Saaturday. All of us in Cardinal nation have you in our thoughts and prayers, as well as Nick’s friends and family.

Hi Lyle,
I feel for you. I cried too, when I heard the news. It’s one of those paradoxes of human existence. We hurt because we care. The only way to prevent the pain is to stop caring. Faced with that choice, I know which I’d choose. Hang in there.

For those readers who are Salt Lake Bees ticketholders, **tonight’s game has been postponed** so that we may remember and mourn for the young man from Silver Springs, MD.

To Nick’s parents, friends, relatives and teammates, my deepest sorrows for your loss. . .BeesGal

REST IN PEACE NICK ADENHART. MY PRAYS ARE WITH THE FAMILY. HE WAS A GREAT MAN WHO’S LIFE WAS CUT SHORT. MAY HE NOW PLAY WITH THE BEST TEAM OF ANGELS, THE TEAM OF GOD. BECAUSE WE LOST A BASEBALL PLAYER HERE, BUT GAIN ANOTHER ANGEL UP THERE…
R.I.P NICK ADENHART 1986-2009
HE WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBER!!!
MY CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY…
TAMARA LEE

Lyle,
I didn’t know much about Nick before this tragic accident, but after reading this wonderful, heartfelt entry, I feel like I knew a bit more about him, and I wish I had known him personally. I think that a lot of people in Major League Baseball are shocked right now. Shocked that someone who had just pitched a six inning shutout against the A’s is now gone. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, and the entire Angels organization. Thank you for sharing your experiences with this fine young man.
Elizabeth
http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

HI LYLE,
HATS OFF LYLE, ALSO HATS OFF TO THE ANGELS AND THE A’S FOR GIVING THE DAY FOR US TO REMEMBER NICK. ONE THING I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IS THE ANGELS PUT NICKS NUMBER ON THE BACK OF THE MOUND AT IN PLACE OF THE ANGELS LOGO, AFTER THE OUTING HE HAD LAST NIGHT I THINK HE HAS EARNED A PLACE ON THAT MOUND FOREVER.
R.I.P. NICK

I was deeply saddened to hear this news My condolences go out to his family and friends and the Angels organization, So many things in this wonderful young man?s future that we won?t ever see now. I thank god for the time we did have with him and for the blessing of his being a part of all of us and Baseball. Lyle your wonderful words have told us so much about Nick thank you. We will keep a part of Nick with us.
Gary

I was deeply saddened to hear this news My condolences go out to his family and friends and the Angels organization, So many things in this wonderful young man?s future that we won?t ever see now. I thank god for the time we did have with him and for the blessing of his being a part of all of us and Baseball. Lyle your wonderful words have told us so much about Nick thank you. We will keep a part of Nick with us.
Gary

This post just about had me in tears… Even though I didn’t even know who he was until the highlights on SportsCenter last night, I still feel the huge loss.

That’s Baseball for ya… from the players on the field to the fans in the nosebleed’s… We truly are together as one…

…a family…

Rest in Peace, Nick…
~Casey
http://fantoday-sportscastertomorrow.mlblogs.com/

I’ve always said I leave the reporting to professionals, and this was no different. The fact that he called Silver Spring, MD home makes it personal for Nats fans as well as baseball fans everywhere.
Senseless AND unnecessary, is all I can say to describe this. So from us Nationals fans, I’ll offer up condolences to the Angels organization over this obscenity.
Gary
Nasty Nats Live Here (and Everywhere)
http://go-nasty-nats.mlblogs.com
http://twitter.com/gonastynats

I am greatly saddened to hear the news of Nick Adenhart. I am a Seattle Mariners fan and I was hoping to see him play in Seattle next week (especially after his 6 inning shutout). His death reminded me just how short life really is (he was born less than a month before I was) the Angels and Adenhart’s family will be in my pryers.

I am greatly saddened to hear the news of Nick Adenhart. I am a Seattle Mariners fan and I was hoping to see him play in Seattle next week (especially after his 6 inning shutout). His death reminded me just how short life really is (he was born less than a month before I was) the Angels and Adenhart’s family will be in my pryers.

I am greatly saddened to hear the news of Nick Adenhart. I am a Seattle Mariners fan and I was hoping to see him play in Seattle next week (especially after his 6 inning shutout). His death reminded me just how short life really is (he was born less than a month before I was) the Angels and Adenhart’s family will be in my pryers.

I just want to thank everyone for the kind words and warm thoughts about this exceptional young man. I wish you all could have known him. He was an absolute gem.

THIS IS A VERY SAD DAY. HATS OFF TO YOU LYLE , AND HATS OFF TO THE ANGELS AND THE A’S FOR TAKE THE DAY OFF SO THAT WE CAN REMEMBER NICK. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE ANGELS REPLACE THE ANGELS LOGO ON THE BACK OFF THE MOUND AND PUT NICK’S NUMBER THERE . IN MY EYES AFTER LAST NIGHT HE EARNED THE RIGHT TO BE ON THAT MOUND FOREVER GOD BLESS HIS FAMILY AND R.I.P. NICK
ADAM

My thoughts and prayers go out to Nick’s family, friends, the entire Angels organization and the MLB family. It’s so sad to see a young man with so much potential, achieve his lifelong dream to be so senselessly taken away at the age of 22. I just became a father for the 1st time and I can’t even imagine what his family must be going through, I hope justice will be served. I’m not an Angels fan but I’ll be rooting for them every step of the way this year. I tip my cap to Nick, rest in peace… you’re in a better place.

Since I heard this tragic news, I have had a tight knot in my throught, and a tear in my eye. My sincere thoughts and prayers go to Adenhart’s family friends and teammates. Beautiful entry
Cheeky
http://cheeky.mlblogs.com

I am so sorry for the Adenhart family, the Angels family, and the Angels fans. We play you in the next series, and it will be quite the surreal scene. While I am still pulling as hard as ever for my Red Sox, there are those like me in Red Sox Nation who will be watching with heavy hearts, and who are praying for you. I am so sorry.

I am an angels fan from Chicago and i just watched the game for which nick pitched last night on Mlb extra innings on comcast.I thought that Nick pitched a great game for his first start of the year.All of MLB should do something for nicks family and friends. R.I.P. nick adenhart …

I am an angels fan from Chicago and i just watched the game for which nick pitched last night on Mlb extra innings on comcast.I thought that Nick pitched a great game for his first start of the year.All of MLB should do something for nicks family and friends. R.I.P. nick adenhart …

Thank you Lyle for allowing us to share in your grief and for sharing this remarkable young man with us. Deepest sympathy to the Adenhart family , the Angels’ family and the MLB family for the loss of someone so special. You will be in my thoughts and prayers … Kate

my thoughts and prayers are with you. Today is the 5 yr anniversary of my moms passing 4-9-04 and my best friend was killed by a 3x convicted drunk driver 12-6-04 in front of her moms home while getting wrapping paper out of her trunk her son watched as she was struck she too was only 22 . only difference is he got 2nd murder and is facing life in prison i hope orange county ups it and gives him the max for taking not just 1 but 3 lives and fleeing my bf killer tried to flee but hit a pole. again my thoughts are with his family

Lyle, magnificent post. Your words did him proud. Terribly sad news but a wonderfully eloquent tribute.
–Cory

At the end of every season, I wonder what baseball player I may not see in the next season due to trades or ended contracts.
In between seasons, I am saddened by the players I know won’t be returning.
At the beginning of the season, I get hopeful about the new players on the team. Frankly, I hate it.
But this is the worst of all…………. I had been hearing about the promise of Adenhart from his performance in Spring training.
……….I love my rookies, and I am so sad for the loss for the family and friends, for the team, for major league baseball, and for the fans.

Thank you for that wonderful tribute. I was terribly saddened to hear of Nick’s death. On the news here in DC, they talked to his high school coach…it sounds like Nick was really a great kid. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends, as well as to the entire Angels organization and their fans.
Shelley
http://diamonddiva.mlblogs.com/

Great work Lyle. Classy as always.

I was looking forward to reading your perspective on this tragedy since I heard of it this morning. I appreciate the fact that you were able to put something so beautiful together so quickly.

I was so excited to watch Adenhart this year. His last game was on my now 15 year old brother’s birthday. I bought him some baseball cards and made sure to pick up an Adenhart rookie. I knew it was going to worth a lot some day. Turns out it was priceless one day later.

We miss you Nick.

Your story has brought tears to my eyes. Having lost my nephew Christopher to a hit and run driver 5 years ago, I know the devestation of losing someone you love much much too soon, to the heinous crime of hit and run. My heart goes out to everyone who knew Nick, loved him, had great hopes for him and pulled for him in his private life and his career. If Chris were alive today, he would be 22 years old you see, so this loss of Nick is hitting home in a big way.. they would be the same age.. now they are both Angels in heaven.. (though Chris might have a Red Sox hat on.. sorry Nick)..

To all out there affected by Hit and Run – I invite you to come to deadlyroads.com and share your grief with those of us who have traveled the same road..

RIP Nick – you are a true Angel now..

All I can say as a parent and a TRUE Angel fan, the ANGELS SHOULD BAN ALCOHOL SALES

All I can say as a PARENT and true Angel fan, is that they (THE ANGELS) should BAN ALCOHOL SALES for tonight’s game in respect to all the decedents.

It’s unfortunate that in today’s age people don’t understand the responsibilities that comes when drinking liquor. It would make a great PSA and it would show the Adenhart family and the other families of the LOVE and respect that THE ANGELS and MLB have for one another.

I lost a 13 year old niece to a drunk driver 18 years ago and I still miss her very dearly.

DO THE RIGHT THING. AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL!

All I can say as a PARENT and true Angel fan, is that they (THE ANGELS) should BAN ALCOHOL SALES for tonight’s game in respect to all the decedents.

It’s unfortunate that in today’s age people don’t understand the responsibilities that comes when drinking liquor. It would make a great PSA and it would show the Adenhart family and the other families of the LOVE and respect that THE ANGELS and MLB have for one another.

I lost a 13 year old niece to a drunk driver 18 years ago and I still miss her very dearly.

DO THE RIGHT THING. AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL!

All I can say as a parent and a TRUE Angel fan, the ANGELS SHOULD BAN ALCOHOL SALES for at least tonight in respect to the families of all the decedents.

It would make a great PSA and it would show the love and respect that THE ANGELS and MLB have to all that suffered during this horrific incident.

I lost a 13 year old niece to a drunk driver 18 years ago and I still miss her very much.

DO THE RIGHT THING.

AN INJURY TO ONE, IS AN INJURY TO ALL

Lyle, God Bless all of you and us. My Red Sox play the Angels tonight and I know my heart will be heavy and there will be tears in my eyes. Take Care.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Being immersed in the southeastern U.S., I’d not even heard of Nick before yesterday. I found myself very troubled and shaken when I heard the news. So with that being said, I can’t imagine what it must be like to have known him and followed him as a fan, teammate, or journalist. It sounds so cliche – but my heart goes out to all who are effected by this tragedy. Especially his family.
Before I heard the news on Nick, I was furious about my team’s collapse (Braves) on Wednesday and a lot of my energy and effort was placed on voicing my frustrations. This tragedy put things in perspective for me. It’s a game. Life is short. Live life to the full.
I’m pulling for the Angels this year.

Being immersed in the southeastern U.S., I’d not even heard of Nick before yesterday. I found myself very troubled and shaken when I heard the news. So with that being said, I can’t imagine what it must be like to have known him and followed him as a fan, teammate, or journalist. It sounds so cliche – but my heart goes out to all who are effected by this tragedy. Especially his family.
Before I heard the news on Nick, I was furious about my team’s collapse (Braves) on Wednesday and a lot of my energy and effort was placed on voicing my frustrations. This tragedy put things in perspective for me. It’s a game. Life is short. Live life to the full.
I’m pulling for the Angels this year.

I have been teaching since 1985 and have had many young men in my classroom whom I Have to say, would not want for a son. Nick was NOT one of those kids. By the stories and writings about his life, I have gathered that Nick was a student of life and not just baseball. He wanted to be the best Nick he could be. Wow! I hope this inspires all young people stop taking unnecessary risks in life and taking life seriously. I don’t mean that we can’t have fun and enjoy life. I mean that life is precious and short and we have to make the most of every moment. I lost my 3 year old (7 years ago this June) to a drowning. I know how loss can rip apart your heart and soul. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the families who lost. My sister is a professor at a Christian University. Courtney (the young lady who died) was the granddaughter of a professor at that University. This loss stretches far and wide. I pray the loss is not in vain and that it ultimately changes and saves lives!
Joy

Our family went to Spring Training in Arizona a few weeks ago and had the pleasure of meeting Nick Adenhart as he entered the stadium from the practice field. I was so impressed by this young man as he was the only player to come over to my daughter Macey who was hoping to get a picture of him. He was so sweet and kind to her. Not only did he allow me to take a wonderful picture of the two of them, but Nick also signed her softball glove. I have a wonderful photo of Nick and my daughter that I would like to post, showing what a “kid friendly” player he was. Our hearts are heavy over this tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at such a difficult time.

Mr. Spencer, There’s a way that Nick Adenhart’s life could have been saved.

There are gadgets — breathilizers — that immobilize the car if the driver is drunk. Clever, eh? Such a thing would have saved the life of Nick Adenhart.

There’s a bill being considered in California RIGHT NOW that would require ignition interlocks devices (IID) be used if you’ve been convicted of drunk driving. (It is AB 91 written by Assemblyman Feuer.)

Since 3 people are killed EVERY DAY in California by a drunk driver, I hope this bill will pass. (Although last year, it was defeated.)

The bill is supported by MADD and California Highway Patrol. The MADD website has lots of information.

Mr. Spencer, would you write a column in support of AB 91?

And everyone reading this should call their legislators in Sacramento.

Pat Kates
Berkeley CA

Having a brother who at age 23 was also killed in a car accident, I couldn’t get this story out of my head. What made matters even harder was finding out from ESPN that I graduated from the same high school as Nick did, although almost a decade previously. It brings the feelings of grief I still carry and really makes me feel for the families of the three victims. I commit to lifting many a prayer for them in these coming days.

We are Red Sox fans here and I was watching the tribute they gave Nick before the on game on Friday and was sobbing along with most of the crowd. It was powerful and sad. I especially liked your blog pot and how it gave us a window into what he was like as a person as well.

As others have said please do not ever drink and drive. If you can afford to go out and drink you can afford to save money for cab fare. Please stop the senseless accidents.

I will never forget your story Nick….

He was the coolest, nicest, and was definitely the one i was rooting for the hardest.

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