The Nick Adenhart Tribute From 2009

...there is a light that never goes out... - Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The phone rang early and a friend told me the news...

The news was only a few hours old when I wrote this essay four years ago today.

It is what came out of a lifelong Angels fan on the spot.

(link to original post with 400+ comments)

In 1978, Lyman Bostock was murdered, a few days before the end of the 1978 baseball season. He had only been with the Angels that season, but the pain for this fan was as real as if he had lived in our house... because in a way he had...

All the moments in which he had excelled had occurred in our house, the television light filling the room, the sound of the radio as much a part of a summer night as the cacophony of your brothers and sisters bursting through the front door just back from a late day at the beach.

These players we will never know are family, we know the illusion of them better than we know some of our own kin. We still tell stories about the time they did this great feat or that terrible blunder as if those curveballs and errors happened in the backyard.

So we had another guest in our house last night, he had just joined the family and we were excited to have him. These kids are so fantastic to have over in the living room, the game taking all of our attention except for a dinner break while they keep playing. It is always a quick run back to see how they are doing.

But a tragedy means he will never be back at our house, at your house, across the homes of this sprawling, tangled neighborhood, this nation, the world even as this sport we love grows in our hearts and imagination. He had an open invitation from every fan in every home, and that invite was a manifestation of the love and hope and competitive drive in each of us. We are sports fans because it allows us to spend time with the absolute best in their prime.

But all the love in world can’t get him to come over and keep you company on the couch, in the car, on the computer. All the hope for a miracle, the longing for a different outcome and the need for tomorrow to get here today are gone. For more than thirty years now, some of us have wondered how many diamonds would have been on that 1979 World Series ring on Lyman’s fourth finger, if Mike Miley would have had to add on to the den to mount all of his gold gloves, if Minnie Rojas would have sent the glove he wore when he saved some Game 7 to Cooperstown. Would Donnie Moore have made a great coach? A broadcaster?

All the love and longing in the world and the imagination cannot give us the firm satisfaction that a W does. We are just left wondering... minds wandering and wondering forever. I don’t know who will win the 2010, ‘11 and ‘12 American League Cy Young awards, but for the rest of my life I will always have a nagging feeling that they would have belonged to Nick Adenhart and that he would have won them right here in my living room. Right here I tell you.

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