Who Was Nick Adenhart?

April 9th marks the seven year anniversary of the loss to baseball, when Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver. Scout.com remembers Nick, but not as a baseball player.

It wasn't just another Wednesday night baseball game.

It wasn't just the fourth game of the season.

It wasn't just another division rival.

It wasn't just another six scoreless.

It wasn't just another phone call.

It wasn't just another text message.

It wasn't just another sports story.

Who was Nick Adenhart?

Late in the darkness of night, dispatchers call for immediate response teams, and paramedics scatter to get to the scene. A drunk driver had hit a Mitsubishi Eclipse, carrying four passengers. Paramedics arrive, and find Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson, both beautiful young people, dead, at the scene. A son, a daughter, loved by their friends and families, gone. Two others are taken from the Eclipse to a nearby hospital.

An ambulance carries a passenger from the scene, unresponsive. It goes just a few miles, to UCI Medical Center, which lies four blocks away from Angel Stadium, including it's mound which was blessed by the passenger just hours earlier.

Nick Adenhart had a night to remember. His father was there to watch him pitch six scoreless innings and walk off the mound to over 40,000 fans screaming and cheering for his performance as an entertainer. There's more to entertainers that meet the eye though. This entertainer was a son, friend, teammate and friendly smiling face.

Phone calls began in the late night of April 9, 2009. One coach answers, calls a team personnel member, and soon, a small group of men fill a waiting room. Three of the four men taking in the events of the night do their best to direct the attention of one, Jim Adenhart, away from the television. The local news stations now have the story of a young Major League pitcher being hit by a drunk driver and falling into a serious state of medical care. What the local news does not share is that a father is not worried about a pitcher - he's worried about his son.

In the late stages of the night, Jim and the others filling the room are notified of the worst. At 22-years of age, Nick Adenhart had been killed.

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Later that morning, a teammate woke up to 52 text messages, and immediately turned on the local news to find out that his teammate and friend had died the night before. The pain has never left the heart of Jered Weaver.

"Over the years it's gotten a little easier to deal with but at the same time, even talking about it right now, you get emotional about it," said Weaver.

From that day to this current one, there's still a locker next to Weaver's, empty excluding a diamond-plated plaque, with the name, "Adenhart" and number 34 engraved in it. Weaver still says a prayer for his friend every time he takes the mound, and engraves his initials into the back of the mound, promptly before his first pitch of each outing.

Who was Nick Adenhart? A friend to Jered Weaver.

"I think of him everyday really. My son is named after him so there's not a day that goes by I don't think about him. I still say a prayer for him every time I go out and pitch. He's just one of those guys that sticks with you, and there's always a point in the day where he crosses your mind."

Who was Nick Adenhart? A polite and hard-working kid.

"You saw somebody that the veteran players took to, Jered especially," said Angels' Vice President of Communications, Tim Mead. "He was a guy that went about his business, worked hard, and his teammates had a lot of respect for his work ethic. He was a very polite young man, very dedicated, very focused."

The team had lost one of it's premier members of the rotation, but that wasn't even a smallest fraction to the loss of Nick.

"It's something we think about often, the tragedy speaks for itself," Angels' manager, Mike Scioscia said. "Once you move on and understand the family lost a son has a bigger impact, but Nick had an affect on everybody while he was here. He continues to."

The morning following Nick's death, fans flocked to Angel Stadium to pay their respects. They left flowers, pictures, memorabilia, condolence notes and other items in the front of the stadium, doing their best to remember a young man. The outpoor of respect to life overflowed beyond the front of the stadium and onto Orangewood Avenue on the front side of the stadium, to State College Boulevard on the West side, and down the back side of Katella Avenue. All of this for a man they only knew as an entertainer.

For those that did know Adenhart as more than an entertainer and as a young man with an infectious smile, the memorial set up by the fans was something to be cherished.

Susan Wise was a young member of the ticket office, and would go out to monitor the memorial every day, fixing items that fell over and making sure everything was proper, but not for the Angels' sake, but for the Adenhart's.

The celebration of Adenhart's life was not ended on the streets. The Angels clubhouse had Adenhart's uniform still hanging in his locker, and brought it to the dugout with them for every game. There was a large spot in right-center field where a sponsor would regularly go, but instead with a picture of Adenhart, delivering a pitch, with a fierce, competitor's face with the "Adenart 34" along with it. Patches were on each uniform and the team made every sign that he would not be forgotten, all the premier point of the season.

"The celebration after we won the division," remembered Mead. "Everybody going out to right-center field honoring him. They honored him in this clubhouse. It was something the guys will carry around. It was a life lesson for somebody who did nothing wrong."

Angels staff and former teammates still remember Adenhart, and pay respects to him in every home game. Adenhart appears in the Angels' pregame video of their historical events with the song "Calling All Angels" by the rock band, Train, as background music. Weaver still draws his initials into the mound every time he pitches. April 9th still remains a somber day for the Angels.

It's down on our calendars," said Mead. "Individually we mark it as a prayer. It's an anniversary you remember in private, more than public acknowledgement."

No words stood out from a pregame conversation between a media member and Angels staff member, as the words, "Everybody deserves to be remembered."

Who is Nick Adenhart?

Nick Adenhart is a pitcher, teammate, friend, and son, who will forever be remembered.



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