It's always weird when a famous person dies. When I got into work and heard about the accident, my first reaction was one not of shock or grief, but of interest. I couldn't believe it had happened, and all I wanted to do was find out more information. Where did it happen? How did it happen? Did it really happen? It was such an atypical and inconceivable bit of news that for a while it didn't register that Nick Adenhart was dead, that he was no longer among the living. It just registered as something unusually captivating, and as such I spent the first hour of my day reading comments, tracking down stories, and waiting for updates. In a sick sort of way I almost found myself enjoying it - not in a way that brought me pleasure, but in the way that you can watch airplanes fly into skyscrapers and keep your eyes fixed while the TV shows replay after replay. Humans are mesmerized by this sort of thing, and while I feel disgusting for admitting it, it would be dishonest to say that I didn't get swept up.
But after a little while it did begin to sink in. Nick Adenhart had died. And though it's easy for someone in my position to see baseball players as nothing but machines that generate clumps of data, today's news issued a swift and forceful reminder that Adenhart was more than a left arm with three pitches and iffy control. Nick was a person as much as I am a person, as much as all of us are persons. Nick kept some of his favorite snacks in his kitchen. Nick had plans to hang out with friends when he got a little free time. Nick had guilty pleasures on TV. Nick had girls that he wanted to see naked. Nick had inside jokes. Nick had bills. Nick had messages he hadn't returned. Nick had memories of family get-togethers over the holidays where he'd have to explain to his grandparents why he wasn't in school. Nick had people he loved, and Nick had people who loved him.
And now, a week after he got to tell friends and family that he'd broken camp with the Angels, Nick is dead. And while I didn't know him, and while I didn't watch him as a fan, it still doesn't feel like just some guy dying, because he's not just some guy. Not for me. Baseball is my second life, and as such, the baseball community is like a giant circle of acquaintances that I got to know by watching them play. And just because I don't interact with the players face-to-face doesn't mean I don't develop connections to them. I make time to see them, I tell them to do things, they usually don't listen, sometimes I get annoyed. How different is that from any traditional relationship, really?
Nick Adenhart's passing has left me saddened. Not broken up, but upset, the way I imagine you feel when your regular waiter at the IHOP dies, or when you lose someone from your book club. That may not be the most touching or heartfelt of admissions, but then I imagine Nick's family takes some solace in hearing from everyone to whom Nick had any kind of meaning. All things considered, Nick didn't mean that much to me, but he meant enough that his passing caused me to stop in my tracks and give my girlfriend a hug.
Nick Adenhart died hours after pitching the best game of his life. If there's any silver lining here, it's that his death was preceded by his achieving an incredible feat. May he take that memory with him wherever he goes.
Nick Adenhart is dead. He was 22 years old. I wish all the best to his teammates, his friends, and his family.