Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and two of his friends. This was a significant event in both the history of the franchise and region as two young local kids were also killed.
Halos Heaven did a memorial piece. The LA Times published a nice memorial article. The folks in Nick’s hometown of Williamsport were treated to an emotional news segment commemorating the 10th anniversary of Nick’s death.
It seems like just about everybody paid respect to Nick and marked the anniversary of his passing except the Angels.
Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
That’s what the Angels did pregame to mark perhaps the most poignant moment in the team’s recent history. To honor a former player and his friends, both of whom had local ties, on the date of their passing. And not just any day, the 10th anniversary of that day.
I went to the game last night thinking the Big A would be the perfect place to mark the occasion. I expected some sort of tribute on the huge new video boards the team installed last year. The Adenhart graphic from 2009 back on the outfield wall.Perhaps a first pitch thrown by the lone survivor of that night, Jon Wilhite, or an emergency responder.
Wilhite, understandably, might not have wanted to be a public spectacle. I’m sure this date is difficult on him. I can understand his absence, but not the complete absence of any mention of Nick.
The night would have been perfect to promote safe driving, have booths for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or even a promotional offer for Uber or Lyft.
The night could have been so many things with even an minimal amount of effort. With a little actual effort the team could have made a huge statement. No alcohol sales for one game, for example. That would have been a huge statement. But I wasn’t expecting a huge statement, just a recognition that April 9th, 2019 was the 10th anniversary of Nick’s death.
Instead, we got nothing other than the half second clip of Nick that appears on the video montage before every game. So, in essence, nothing.
No mention of the anniversary, no effort to further educate fans about the dangers of drunk driving, no effort from the team whatsoever.
This is far from the first time the Angels franchise has been tone deaf. From the lack of acknowledgment of the passing of Jim Fregosi and other greats while handing out paintings and acknowledgments to opposing players, the team has shown a decided disconnect with its fans before.
But this one felt even worse. So wrong.
Fans often mark moments in their lives by baseball milestones. We all know where we were when Buckner booted the grounder, when Boone hit the walk off. And Angels fans most certainly know exactly where we were when we heard the news about Nick.
We know the hollowed out, kick to the gut feeling. We know the sense of loss. Three lives taken a mile from the stadium. Youth destined to never grow old.
We flocked to the Big A in the following days, leaving a memorial that would grow and grow. We cheered on that 2009 team as though a win on the field was done for Nick. We were emotionally invested in the tragedy.
For Nick. For his friends. For the community, we grieved.
Meanwhile, the Angels counted the ticket money, the merchandise sales, and had no problem painting the outfield wall with Nick’s image. They paid a video tribute to him before games. They acted like they too were emotionally invested.
Yet on the 10th Anniversary of that day, everyone else paid tribute but the Angels.
To say I was disappointed last night would be an understatement. The fans deserved better. But mostly, the families of Nick Adenhart, Courtney Stewart, Henry Pearson, and Jon Wilhite deserved better.