Before any more time elapses from the recent excellent start of Miguel Gonzalez against the Angels, I want to comment and weigh in on the tribute this young man gave to his friend Nick Adenhart. Gonzalez used a glove given to him by Adenhart when they were both with the Angels organization. For any who may not recall, Nick Adenhart is the Angels rookie pitcher who was killed by a drunk driver in April of 2009.
I honestly have no more to add to this story beyond what has already been written beyond saying that I am probably about the only baseball writer/blogger from Adenhart’s hometown in Western Maryland. I knew Nick; he graduated from Williamsport High School with my son; he was an occasional visitor in our home, etc. But beyond being a really nice kid, he was a rising star. I have a long article on him that you may reference on this blog by looking back to April of this year.
Everyone knew Nick would pitch in the big leagues, and everyone knew it by the time he was 11 or 12 years old! The talent was categorically beyond anything anyone had ever seen. He was the quintessential “local boy make good” story for our region. So his tragic death was a terrible loss to the whole community. Adding to the dramatic sadness of it all was the extraordinarily odd occurrence of two other boys from the same graduating class dying that same day – from an industrial accident and from a motorcycle crash.
As if that was not enough, our Williamsport community suffered too much of a “déjà-vu all over again” experience this spring. The high school baseball team (coached by Adenhart’s childhood and high school catcher and best friend) lost its best player in a prom evening car crash. Also claimed in the same accident was his date for that evening – both of them top athletes and popular, good kids. The community felt that same familiar pain. A long week of sadness and memorial services ensued.
One would have expected the high school baseball team to fold in upon itself with the loss of their best player and pitcher. But a story unfolded, the likes of which one would only expect to see in a fictional book. The team – posting but a mere .500 record for the regular season – won the first state playoff game 22-0 the day after the last funeral. They kept winning … all the way to the state finals where, in the 2nd extra inning, they won the state championship on a suicide squeeze!
But back to the main idea: That a new pitcher for the local Baltimore Orioles team would honor our town’s favorite son, Nick Adenhart, guarantees a place of profound affection and respect from everyone in this community.
So to Miguel Gonzalez – no matter what happens with you in your career with the Orioles, be it short or long, you have hundreds of friends 90 minutes west of Camden Yards in the 21795 zip code! Thank you for your tribute.