Apr 9, 2009

An Angel Forever

For many people in the card blogging community, the Nick Adenhart tragedy has led to sentiments of I didn’t really know him too well, but this is truly sad. As a die-hard Angels fan, I knew Nick Adenhart about as well as a fan watching from a far can. For Angel fans, Adenhart has been the future pitching savior for a number of years and we have all followed his progress, looking forward to the day when he would finally arrive in Anaheim and show the baseball world what he had to offer. Sadly, much of the baseball world will never know just what he did have to offer and we’ve all been robbed of seeing his potential baseball brilliance.

When Nick was drafted in 2004, there were questions about his health due to arm troubles, but for Halo fans, he was going to be the savior. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent tracking him on milb.com. Checking box scores, scouring for new, looking for any indications that Adenhart would truly be our next great pitching star. It’s odd, I never had the chance to see Adenhart pitch in person, but I felt like I knew him so well. As an Angel fans we all followed his story and took deep breaths whenever word of arm troubles would arise. In the back of my mind though, I always had the feeling he would become a star.

Today is truly a tragic one for the Adenhart family and can’t even fathom what they must be going through. The news hit me hard this morning. When I returned from the park with my daughter I hopped on the internet as I always do and went straight to HalosHeaven.com, looking for any news about tonight’s game, which was going to be my first of the year and my daughter Hailey’s first Angel game ever. For weeks now, we’ve been hyping this event up to Hailey. In the last year she became interested in all of Daddy’s baseball cards and his favorite team with the bright red hats. Whenever we would drive up from San Diego to visit her grandparents, she would scream out, “DAAAD! That’s where the Angels play!!” as we would pass the Big A. That would always be followed by, “When can I go to an Angel game Daaaad?”. Today was supposed to be that day.

We knew there was a good chance that tonight’s game would be cancelled, but we still drove up this morning to Grammy and Poppa’s house, me with a heavy heart and Hailey with her Angels necklace gripped tightly in her hand. By the time we hit Orange County the news had broken that tonight’s game would be cancelled and both my wife and I looked at each other with dread.

We rode on in silence for about a half hour until we transitioned onto the 57 freeway, the spot where Angel Stadium stands tall. Hailey again yelled out and our hearts filled our throats. By the time we reached her Poppa’s house, we had worked out our plan. After distractions and changes of subject, we finally let Hailey know that the players got sick and there would be no game tonight for us. Her sadness filled the air for a few seconds, she pouted for a moment and then with the spirit of a 3 year old she exclaimed, “I hope they feel better!” and she made her way to the pile of toys in the living room.

Just like that it was over. A day that started with such excitement for our entire family, but turned into a truly heartbreaking day. I want to be sad about our missed experience, but I just can’t muster that emotion for this. I’m so thankful just to have a daughter who can bring such joy into my life. Within minutes she had picked up her Dora the Explorer bat and was asking me to throw her pitches because, “I’m Vladdy, Dad!”.

An event like this makes you realize just how precious this life is and how important it is to savor every moment of it. All of my sadness is reserved for the Adenhart family and none of it will go to my own. We may have a hundred baseball games in our future, but unfortunately for our #34, there will be no more.

I know not everyone out there knew Nick Adenhart or followed his career, but from a fan who did, I know we’ll miss Nick for a long time. These players that we follow almost become like family. We twist and turn based on their every movement and so much of us gets wrapped up in their performance. I spent about ten minutes last night preparing a blog in praise for Nick’s performance last night during the ninth inning, when the A’s rallied from behind and dashed my spirits. I regret that I didn’t take that chance to praise the toughness and determination of that young man who will never be with us out on the mound again.

RIP Nick Adenhart. An Angel forever.

Go Halos!