RIP: Nick Adenhart (22) Angels Pitcher
- Updated: April 9, 2009
Sad news out of Orange County, California today. Rookie Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Nick Adenhart, 22, was killed in an auto accident in Fullerton a little after midnight Thursday morning, just hours after his first start of the year. Two others also died in the accident.
A man driving a maroon minivan ran a red light and slammed into the Mitsubishi that Adenhart and three others were riding in. Adenhart died at around 6 a.m. today when emergency surgery at a local hospital could not save him.
The driver of the minifan, Andrew Thomas Gallo, 22, of Riverside, ran the red light fled the scene on foot, but was captured an hour later by police. Gallo, according to police at a press conference held a little before 11 a.m. today, was intoxicated, had a history of driving drunk (a 2006 DUI conviction), and was driving with a suspended license. Gallo will be arraigned Monday, and will likely be charged with murder. Gallo’s judge in the 2006 DUI conviction reportedly told him that if he’s ever involved in a drunk driving incident again, and someone dies, he could be charged with murder.
Adenhart was one of the top prospects in the Angels organization — and, indeed, was one of the top high school pitching prospects in the country before he hurt his arm in his senior season. The Angels got him in a bargain in the 14th round in the 2004 draft with an eye on getting him healthy and then seeing if his great potential would finally appear.
It looked like that plan was coming together last night when Adenhart pitched the best game of his career in just his fourth appearance in the big leagues. With his father in attendance, the Silver Spring, Maryland native tossed six shutout innings with five strikeouts in a game the Angels lost 6-4 to the Oakland A’s.
Tonight’s game against the A’s has been postponed.
Some quotes from Adenhart’s coaches, teammates:
Tony Regins, Angels General Manager:
“We’re all in shock. Such a bright future, such a bright kid. We’re going to deeply miss him. It’s just so difficult to put into words how much Nick will be missed.”
Torii Hunter, Angels Outfielder:
“This is real life. This isn’t about baseball. This is his whole life, he had his whole life ahead of him. He’s only 22. He’s still a kid. He was a great kid. He was funny, he was very popular in the clubhouse and off the field. People loved him.”
Agent Scott Boras (broke down and cried when he started his remarks):
“He’s a great kid. As a young ball player, you come here and .. told his dad the day before, you’d better come here because something special is going to happen.”
Boras said he spoke with Adenhart after the game, and “he was so elated because of what Scoicia had to say to him about his performance. He felt like a major leaguer.”
“Some of the most exciting things about what we share in this game is to see the glow of a young man after he takes a huge step in his life, matures. It’s something that all of us in the game can share. To focus on this loss is not what we need to do here today, but focus on Nick’s life and his achievement.”
“His life’s goal was to be a major league baseball player, and he certainly achieved that standard.”
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia
“I can’t tell you how proud we are of the growth we have seen of a youngster who was a tremendous pitcher and had major arm surgery before he threw one pitch in professional baseball. His family should be very proud of where Nick was at age 18 and the person he grew into. That’s the memory we’re going to move forward with.”
“It was a privilege to be around Nick. He was an outstanding young man. It’s a tragedy that won’t be forgotten.”
What a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people are killed in auto accidents each year, many of them involving drunks behind the wheel. And Adenhart and two others in that Mitsubishi have now become a part of those statistics. Three young lives and promising big league career snuffed out in an instant.
Angels fans, and all baseball fans in the Los Angeles area, have heavy hearts today.
Jim Lakely (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Los Angeles Dodgers Examiner at Examiner.com