On April 9, 2009, Angels rookie pitcher and two others were killed by an alleged drunk driver. This tragic accident occurred a few hours after his successful pitching debut with the team. Just shy of six months later, Adenhart’s name is in the news again, this time tied to a different controversy.
This time, the Angels were celebrating clinching of the AL West title. It was typical fashion with champagne and beer. We’ve all seen pictures and video of those clubhouse celebrations. And the Angels’ celebration was no different. Dousing everyone and everything in sight with various forms of alcohol. This difference in this celebration was Adenhart’s jersey in the middle of the celebration, also being doused. His teammates have said that they included him in the celebration the best way they knew how. They have said that if he were there with him, he would have been in the middle, so they included his jersey as a tribute to him, and as a part of their team.
Bloggers, columnists, and discussion boards have been blasting the club ever since about their insensitivities, poor role models, and bad choices of celebration. If your teammate was killed by an alleged drunk driver, how could you pour alcohol over his jersey?
On the other hand, teammates, athletes, bloggers, columnists, and discussion boards are also lauding the team for how they included Adenhart in their celebration and honored his memory. If he was a member of your team, how could you not include him in the way he would have been included if he were there?
Who’s right? It’s all a matter of opinion, of course. However, grieving and recovery from tragedy like Adenhart’s death are very personal emotions and processes. And most people do what they can to get by and to heal their hearts. In this case, if Adenhart had been with the team on Monday night, he would have been right there in the middle of the team, celebrating. So the team, collectively and individually included him in that same celebration in the best way they knew how.
This isn’t the first tribute that the team has made to Nick Adenhart. For example, they established the Nick Adenhart Pitcher of the Year award. This will be an award given annually to a team pitcher for outstanding performance in the regular season. Others have honored Adenhart as well. For example, a Little League field where Adenhart played was rededicated as the Nicholas James Adenhart Memorial Field. And the Nick Adenhart Memorial Fund was created by the Adenhart family as a way to support youth baseball.
The accident was a tragedy. For Nick Adenhart, the two other people killed, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson, and the person seriously injured, Jon Wilhite. It was also a tragedy for his family, and for his teammates. And in the end, everyone is doing the best that they know how to recover and heal from their losses.