Adenhart’s Passing Truly Sad

Nick Adenhart

Nick Adenhart

For a boy with an insatiable love affair and a gnawing desire to play baseball, the starting point is usually Little League.
If good enough, and with the right physical and mental tools, the next step is high school. And if that same young man is truly fortunate, he’ll be selected by a major league team during the June amateur draft.
Nick Adenhart was that good and that fortunate to have been picked by the Angels in the 14th round of the 2004 draft, after prepping at Williamsport High in Maryland.
After tearing up his right elbow as a 17-year-old, having it reconstructed, and then rapidly moving through the Angels’ chain, Adenhart made his first big-league start last Wednesday night against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium.
With his father, Jim, in the stands, Adenhart impressed, tossing six shutout innings, striking out five, walking three, and allowing seven hits, but not earning a decision.
A few hours later, Adenhart and three friends were involved in a horrific car accident in Fullerton with an alleged drunk driver.
Just that quick, with the world by the tail, at the tender age of 22, and full of promise, Adenhart’s life tragically came to an end, and so did a bright career that began in high school. Two of his three friends were also killed.
The truly sad part is that Adenhart, who had signed a letter of intent with the University of North Carolina, will never see his dream of having a long and successful big-league career fulfilled.
A tall right-hander with a 95-mile-an-hour fastball, and a sharp-breaking curveball, Adenhart was once believed to be a top-five draft pick. There were many teams that shied away from him after the elbow surgery, but not the Angels.
In six spring training starts, Adenhart posted a 3-0 record with a sterling 3.12 earned-run average.
Because of injuries to veteran hurlers John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar, Manager Mike Scioscia told Adenhart that he had made the big club. His dream was realized.
Any young man who has fancied playing in the major leagues, must do so from the vantage point of innocence. That’s because, in reality, so few make it to that level, even the most gifted.
In my more than twenty years covering high school baseball, I’ve lost count of how many young men have told me that it was their goal to play in the big leagues.
I’d always tell them that it was a noble goal, that they should keep at it and always give their best effort.
But I also knew the odds were stacked against them, because even No. 1 overall picks often don’t pan out.
That’s why when I see someone that I’ve covered like Freddy Sanchez, Jason Hirsh or Jason Botts, make it to the major leagues, I get a real thrill because I know just how special and dedicated they are.

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