It’s not easy, but we’re moving on, moving forward, because that’s what we do. We’re professional athletes. We’ll go about our business and play quality, exciting baseball for you fans. But no one will walk into our clubhouse this year without thinking about Nick Adenhart. He’ll always be with us, this year and forever.
We all have our own ways of grieving and coping, of dealing with a tragedy like this. You’ve got to live your life and treat people the way you want to be treated. It starts right there. Do what you can to help others. Don’t always be so concerned about yourself. Think about making others around you comfortable and happy, and that will affect you in a positive way.
You never know when God calls you to come home. We’re a family here, and when He called Nick, it was like losing a brother. It hurts. One of the first things I did was call all my family members and tell them I love them. Every time I leave the house, I tell my wife and kids I love them. It’s something we all should do every chance we get. Talk to your kids, your brothers and sisters, tell them how you feel. You never know when something like that, what happened to Nick, might happen to you.
When you’re on a team like this, you spend more time with your teammates than you do your own family. So you become close, and naturally it hits everybody hard. Nick was just a kid, really, but he was a popular kid, a great kid. He was on his way to great accomplishments in this game. He wasn’t here long, but he did get to live out his dream to play in the big leagues – and shut out the Oakland A’s for six innings. That was the kind of performance that showed what was ahead of him. He pitched with his head and his heart. He had a gift and knew what to do with it.
Nick struck out guys he’d been watching since he was in junior high school. He was living out his dream. I kept pumping him up between innings, and I’ll never forget that look he had, that determination. When he came off the field after that last inning, when he put them away in order in the sixth, I could feel him, what it meant to him.
I left the stadium around 11:30. It just so happened Nick’s dad was here. It must be incredibly hard on his family right now, but at least his dad was able to see him, and Nick was able to tell his dad he loved him. Nick dropped him off at his hotel and went out with some friends, and they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He did nothing wrong. It could have happened to any of us.
That’s why I encourage everyone to look your loved ones in the eyes and tell them how you feel, how you love and appreciate them. And when I called my brothers the next day and told them I loved them, I also told them to please never drink and drive. That has to stop. No more drinking and driving. Period. We have to be more respectful to each other.
Those of us who make good livings playing a game know how fortunate we are. Not everyone can make it to the big leagues, obviously. But you can take something from Nick and his life, how he went after what he wanted, how he pushed through some adversity last year and kept believing in himself.
He was a tremendous young man, kind of quiet but funny in his way with his easy manner and style. He had a great work ethic and amazing talent. He loved his family. Those are some of the things we should remember when we think about Nick. He was one of us, a baseball player, a competitor, and we’re carrying on in his spirit and memory. It’s the best way we can honor him.
That’s what Nick would want us to do. I know he’ll be watching us, pulling for us, an eternal Angel. We’ll never stop thinking about Nick Adenhart, keeping him in our hearts and minds for the rest of our careers and our lives. A guy like that never really goes away. He’s always a part of you.