Saturday, April 18, 2009

The final goodbye to our Angel

by Larry Simons
April 18, 2009

I was sick but I was not going to miss attending the public service held for Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart on Friday at Williamsport High School, where Nick graduated in 2004. Adenhart was killed in a hit-and-run car accident on April 9, 2009 just hours after pitching the best game of his career against the Oakland Athletics.

Pictures were not allowed to be taken inside the gymnasium where family, friends and the community gathered to pay their last respects to the 22-year-old major league pitcher. I did not stay long, but I saw many people wearing baseball attire (which the family encouraged people to do), many wearing shirts (myself included) with Adenhart’s picture, his name or his # 34.

In the front of the gymnasium was a memorial set up with personal family photos of Nick’s life with his family and friends and some of his personal belongings, including a Washington Redskins jersey that was the size of what a teenager would wear. I only had to guess this was a jersey Nick wore when he was 14 or 15, which wasn’t too long ago.

There was also a slideshow, which showed pictures of Nick with his family and friends throughout his life. One very interesting picture in the slideshow showed Nick with Cal Ripken, Jr., which looked like it may have been taken 4 or 5 years ago.

The only picture I was able to capture was outside the gymnasium, where above the doors was displayed Nick’s # 34 that he wore with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Outside of the Williamsport High School gymnasium where Adenhart's public memorial service was held on April 17, 2009

Nick was a real hometown hero. A Hagerstown kid who made it to the big leagues. Whether he would have achieved greatness is something we will never know.

I haven't felt like this since University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias died in June of 1986 shortly after he was drafted by the Boston Celtics. It really hit close to home. Adenhart's death hit even closer. He lived in the same town I live in and went to the same high school my daughter attends.....that's close.

We will never know if Buddy Holly would have been the next Elvis. We will never know if Len Bias would have been the next Michael Jordan, and we will never know if Adenhart would have been the next Nolan Ryan. Adenhart was our Buddy Holly. He was our Len Bias. Small town boys who made it to the big time and taken from us before we ever had a chance to see what true greatness may have been waiting for us.

Ironically, Holly, Bias and Adenhart were all taken at age 22.

Here are clips of Nick Adenhart in action

Memorial donations may be made to:

"34 Angel Forever"; send donations payable to The Nick Adenhart Memorial Fund, Geier Financial Group, 2205 Warwick Way, Suite 200, Marriottsville, MD 21104.

Online condolences may be made to the family

No comments: