Nick Adenhart, a name that means "handsome heart," passed five years ago today. This is the story of the man who entitled his name with his life, a man with a handsome heart.
April 8th, 2009, Nick Adenhart takes the mound for the first time as a starting pitcher. Hours later, he walks off that mound for the last time to the applause of 43,283. Nick pitched the game of his life, six scoreless innings, sitting down five, he was stellar.
Hours later, dispatchers call for immediate response teams, as a drunk driver has hit a Mitsubishi Eclipse, filled with three young men and one young woman. Firemen, paramedics, and policemen all get to a horrific scene where three wonderful smiles and hearts lost their lives within just hours, one being, Nick Adenhart.
Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson were in the car that night and were pronounced dead at the scene. We may not have known them, but there's many people who did, many people who loved and cherished them, and we send our prayers to those friends and family.
Jon Wilhite was also in the car that night. Wilhite was taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center with Adenhart. He had suffered internal decapitation, which became a near week long process for doctors. Six days after the accident, Wilhite underwent a five-hour surgery to reattach his skull to his spine. He lives on today as a reminder of how precious life is.
Lastly, Nick Adenhart was in the car. Adenhart was taken to the UCI Medical Center, four blocks away from the Angel Stadium pitcher's mound, where hours before, he had the night of his life. Nick was pronounced dead just past midnight on April 9th, 2009.
Some of us were awake that night and heard the news, but most of us woke up the next morning to the agonizing truth. Nick Adenhart was gone, and so were his two friends. The impact hit across the baseball world, and news became harder and harder to grasp.
That same day, flowers were placed with hats, shirts, pictures and condolence notes in front of Angel Stadium and down Katella Avenue, and Orangethorpe Avenue, and down streets and roads in Anaheim, Orange, Fullerton, Placentia, and dispersed across all of North Orange County.
Nick, Courtney, and Henry became prompt examples to many what happens when you drink and drive. Seeing that three beautiful youths had their lives taken by one man who made a horrible decision to drink and drive is something for all to remember and think on.
Nick's career ended at 18 innings, a 1-0 win/loss record, sitting down nine by way of the K, and a 6.00 earned run average. Nick's legacy continues with the Angels and Major League Baseball though.
The Angels postponed the April 9th, 2009 game against the Oakland Athletics after the announcement of Nick's death. The Angels wore a black patch the number 34 (Adenhart's number) in white that was placed above the heart of each uniform. Adenhart remained a clubhouse presence through the 2009 season, as his jersey hung in his locker, both at home and on the road, as a locker was assigned to him for every road game. Adenhart's jersey hung in the dugout during all games as well.
We don't know what kind of baseball player, or more importantly, what kind of man Nick would have turned out to be. We don't know what lives Courtney Stewart or Henry Pearson would have lived. However, Nick, Courtney, and Henry serve as a reminder of how precious life is for us every day.