The start of baseball season every year marks a new beginning. The grass on the field never looks more pristine; every team starts out with dreams of reaching the World Series. For the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, however, the start of baseball season is tinged with memories of a teammate and friend who was killed by a drunk driver at this time three years ago.
Nick Adenhart had just started his fourth career major league game on April 8, 2009. It was a solid performance for the 22-year-old; Adenhart pitched six scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics. However, a few hours after the game, Adenhart and three friends were in a car in Fullerton, California, when they were hit by a drunk driver. The pitcher and two of his friends died in the fatal car crash.
The drunk driver who hit Adenhart and his friends had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit at the time of the accident. He was tried for and convicted of multiple counts of murder, driving under the influence and hit and run. In December 2010, the driver -- just 23 years old himself -- was sentenced to 51 years to life in prison.
Members of the 2012 Angels who knew Adenhart reached out to his family on the anniversary of his death. Bobby Wilson, one of Adenhart's closest friends on the team, took to Twitter to send a message imploring people to not drink and drive.
Angels fans have a chance to see their team go far into the playoffs this season. Whatever heights they reach, however, will be without one teammate who might well have led them to the top.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Angels mark third anniversary of Nick Adenhart's death," Mike DiGiovanna, April 9, 2012