My wife really doesn’t follow baseball other than watching the Angels on TV with me, so she doesn’t know much about the history of the game. That means she never knows the answer to trivia questions, so a few years ago I jokingly told her to guess “Hoyt Wilhelm” because
he had such a long and interesting career.
It’s actually worked on occasion, and has become a running joke between us. Anytime a trivia question is posed on a baseball telecast, she’ll say, “Hoyt Wilhelm!”
Today we had an inspector in the house as part of our escrow process. He saw the Angels memorabilia on the wall and asked who was the Angels fan. He said his dad had played for the Angels in the 1960s. I asked who. He said his dad was Ed Kirkpatrick, a catcher-outfielder who signed in June 1962.
After discussing my project to write a book about the history of the Angels minor leagues, we talked about where his dad went after he left the Angels. Ed was traded to the Royals in December 1968. I asked who the Angels got in return; he couldn’t recall, so I picked up an Angels Media Guide to look it up.
You guessed it … Hoyt Wilhelm!
So I turned to my wife and said, “Guess who his dad was traded for, and the hint is the possible answer to every trivia question.”
She said, “Hoyt Wilhelm!”
Once again proving my theory …
If you’re a regular reader of FutureAngels.com, you know that my wife and I have been planning for an eventual move to Florida.
We listed our house for sale last Sunday. The first couple to walk through made an offer for what we asked, so we’re in escrow.
We can easily fall out of escrow, of course, especially in this economy. But if everything goes as scheduled, we could be on our way to Florida by June 1.
How does this affect FutureAngels.com?
Well, not much.
The main impact should be on Rancho Cucamonga, since I won’t be 45 miles away any more. I won’t be able to drive to Tempe any more, but U.S. Airways flies directly to Phoenix from Orlando so it’ll be just the cost of the flight and a rental car. Delta flies non-stop to Salt Lake City, so I expect to visit the Orem Owlz this summer.
This should make it a bit easier to visit Cedar Rapids and Arkansas, but we’ll see.
I’m tentatively planning to drive to Tempe for extended spring training games April 27-29, but that depends on what happens with escrow.
Owlz fans are familiar with Gandolfo’s Deli, an historic sandwich shop in the basement of what was once the Provo Angels offices until they moved to Orem. Gandolfo’s has opened a shop in Rancho Cucamonga, and the franchise has become a big sponsor of the Quakes. They’re at 9090 Milliken, at 7th Street. Give them a try; here’s their menu.
Has anybody managed to get the Bees webcast to work? Either we get the sports talk radio feed, or the link is bad, or just nothing happens on my end.
The Quakes asked me to write an article for their game program about my memories of Nick Adenhart. This is the original draft I gave them.
The first time I saw Nick Adenhart, he was a batboy.
No, he wasn’t ten years old, although he wasn’t much older. He was actually three weeks short of his eighteenth birthday, assigned to the Angels’ minor league complex in Arizona as he recovered from reconstructive elbow surgery.
Six months before, Nick was ranked by Baseball America as the top high school prospect in the nation. But just before the June 2004 draft, Adenhart blew out his elbow, and was viewed by most teams as too risky to select.
No problem, as far as the Angels were concerned. They selected Nick in the 14th round, offered him half of the usual first round bonus money that year, and paid for his surgery. With nothing else to do but heal, Adenhart was assigned to be the team batboy, collecting bats from the field between at-bats. His teammates nicknamed him “Doogie Howser” after the fictional TV teenage doctor.
A year later, Nick was healed, and on June 26, 2005 he made his professional debut in the Rookie-A Arizona League, pitching for the Mesa Angels against the Surprise Rangers. He got a late-season promotion to the Orem Owlz and won a game for them in the playoffs en route to a Pioneer League championship.
Adenhart’s 2006 season began with another promotion, to the Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Midwest League. He started for the West Division in the league’s All-Star Game. In sixteen starts with the Kernels, Nick was 10-2 with a 1.95 ERA.
On July 2, 2006, Adenhart made his first start with the Advanced-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. He was six weeks from his 20th birthday. Nick made nine starts with the Quakes, posting a 5-2 record with a 3.78 ERA. He struck out 46 and walked only 16 in 52 1/3 innings.
Entering 2007, Baseball America named Adenhart the Angels’ #2 prospect behind former Quakes slugger Brandon Wood. He spent the season with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, turning 21 on August 24. He was one of the youngest top pitching prospects in the minors, and opened 2008 with the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, one step from the majors.
After injuries to starters John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, the Angels called up Nick after only three Triple-A starts. On May 1, 2008, he made his major league debut against the A’s. Adenhart made three starts before returning to Salt Lake for the rest of the year.
During the spring of 2009, more starting pitcher injuries created more opportunities, and Nick was selected to begin the season with the Angels. On April 8, 2009, he pitched six shutout innings against the A’s. After the game, he was in a car with three friends when it was struck by an alleged drunk driver. Nick and two companions were killed, and the one survivor was left in critical condition.
Nick was a kind, humble, and calm soul. He pitched with an almost detached demeanor. He struggled in his three 2008 starts, perhaps in over his head, but when he joined the Angels this year he had far more confidence in himself. Angels fandom saw the real Nick Adenhart the night of April 8, and it will be the final memory they will have of him.
He was a long way from playing batboy in Mesa.
Over the years, FutureAngels.com has added permanent memorial pages when we’ve lost a member of the minor league family.
The Nick Adenhart memorial went online today.
If you wish to add your own comment or reminiscence, follow the instructions in the memorial, i.e. e-mail me at email@example.com with your comment, your name and your city/state. Your e-mail address will not be released.
The FutureAngels.com memorials:
I really hope I don’t have to do any more of these …
Angels fans started an impromptu memorial to Nick Adenhart yesterday at the main gate of Angel Stadium. I went by this morning to shoot some photos, which are below.
A friend sent along this poem published in 1896 by A.E. Housman.
|To An Athlete Dying Young|
|THE time you won your town the race|
|We chaired you through the market-place;|
|Man and boy stood cheering by,|
|And home we brought you shoulder-high.|
|To-day, the road all runners come,||5|
|Shoulder-high we bring you home,|
|And set you at your threshold down,|
|Townsman of a stiller town.|
|Smart lad, to slip betimes away|
|From fields where glory does not stay,||10|
|And early though the laurel grows|
|It withers quicker than the rose.|
|Eyes the shady night has shut|
|Cannot see the record cut,|
|And silence sounds no worse than cheers||15|
|After earth has stopped the ears:|
|Now you will not swell the rout|
|Of lads that wore their honours out,|
|Runners whom renown outran|
|And the name died before the man.||20|
|So set, before its echoes fade,|
|The fleet foot on the sill of shade,|
|And hold to the low lintel up|
|The still-defended challenge-cup.|
|And round that early-laurelled head||25|
|Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,|
|And find unwithered on its curls|
|The garland briefer than a girl’s.|
The Orange County Register reports that Nick Adenhart and two others were killed last night in a car crash in Fullerton. The Register says that the other vehicle may have been involved in a felony hit-and run.
According to the story, the Angels will hold a press conference later today.
UPDATE 10:00 AM PDT — Below is the official press release from the Angels. No other Angels personnel were involved. A press conference is scheduled for 10:30 AM PDT.
ANGELS’ ADENHART, TWO OTHERS, KILLED IN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT
ANAHEIM, CA: Angels Baseball this morning announced the passing of right-hander Nick Adenhart, the victim of a fatal automobile accident in Fullerton, CA. Two other individuals were also killed in the incident.
Adenhart, 22, was a passenger in a silver Mitsubishi along with three others. Fullerton Police reported the Mitsubishi proceeded through an intersection, when a van ran a red light and broadsided the vehicle. A female driver and male passenger were in the Mitsubishi were dead when police and fire department personnel arrived. Adenhart died as the result of his injuries at UCI Medical Center earlier this morning. No other members of the Angels organization were involved.
Adenhart pitched a masterful six innings in last night’s game against Oakland (6 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO), leaving with a 4-0 lead before a late-inning rally resulted in a 6-4 Angels defeat.
Originally drafted by the Angels in the 14th round of the June, 2004 draft, Adenhart was in his fifth professional season and made the Angels Opening Day roster for the first time. He opened the 2009 campaign with a 37-28 career minor league record and a 3.87 ERA (506.2 IP – 218 ER). Adenhart made his Major League debut last May 1 against Oakland. At the time, he was the youngest active-roster pitcher in the majors.
Adenhart earned his spot in the Angels rotation via a spring training in which he recorded a 3-0 record and a 3.12 ERA (26 IP – 9 ER) over the course of six starts. During that span, he struck out 18 while allowing only five base on balls.
Adenhart is survived by his father Jim and mother Janet. His family released the following statement:
“Nick’s family expresses sincere gratitude for all the help the Angels have provided. He lived his dream and was blessed to be part of an organization comprised of such warm, caring, and compassionate people. The Angels were his extended family. Thanks to all of Nick’s loyal supporters and fans throughout his career. He will always be in everyone’s hearts forever.”
Angels General Manager Tony Reagins issued the following statement on behalf of the club:
“The Angels family has suffered a tremendous loss today. We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nick’s family, friends’ loved ones and fans.”
Memorial services are pending.
Baseball America posted yesterday the latest round of releases by the Angels:
RHP Brian Chambers, RHP Matt Hammons, RHP Josh Keller, RHP Baron Short, LHP Doug Brandt, 2B Jerry Gonzalez-Lopez, 3B Larry Infante, OF Donato Giovanatto, OF Tyler Johnson, OF Drew Toussaint.
Former Angels released by other organizations include OF Adam Greenberg by the Reds, RHP Greg Jones by the Indians, 2B Tomas Perez by the Rockies, and OF Josh LeBlanc by the Marlins.