General : : Professional
Monday, June 21, 2010

Special Fund Keeps Adenhart’s Memory Alive

Jim Ecker        
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Nick Adenhart died tragically last year, killed by a drunk driver shortly after he’d pitched six scoreless innings for the Los Angeles Angels, but his memory is being celebrated  through the Nick Adenhart Memorial Fund.
Nick’s family has distributed approximately $50,000 from the fund to various youth baseball programs, many of them in Maryland where Nick grew up, and on Sunday the family donated $5,000 to the Kernels Foundation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Nick spent part of the 2006 season with the Kernels in the Class A Midwest League.
“Nick loved it here. It’s where his career started,” his mother, Janet Gigeous, told the crowd during an emotional pre-game ceremony at Perfect Game Field. “We’ll always have a special place in our hearts for you.”
The Kernels retired Nick’s uniform number during the ceremony, the first number retired in club history. The team unveiled a handsome 8-foot picture of Nick on the center-field wall, along with his name, his number 21 and an inscription that reads “1986-2009.” The picture shows Nick in his windup, prepared to throw a pitch for Cedar Rapids.
Nick won 10 games for Cedar Rapids in 2006 and compiled a 1.95 before being promoted to Rancho Cucamonga that season. He was a Midwest League All-Star and was headed straight for the major leagues, where he made it just two years later.
Nick was only 22 years old when he died shortly after midnight on April 9, 2009, a talented young pitcher and an outstanding young man. He always said that Cedar Rapids was his favorite spot in the minor leagues, thanks to the friendly fans and his fond memories.
“I think it was where the dream kind of started,” his mother said after the ceremony. “When he was 8 or 9 years old, he was talking about how he was going to play professional baseball. The dream started really young for him.  And he gets here and there’s people in the stands … It just kind of all came together for him. I think it was a happy time for him. This place has a lot of really good memories.”
The Angels picked Nick in the 14th round of the 2004 draft. He pitched in three games for Los Angeles in 2008 and made the starting rotation at the start of the 2009 campaign when the tragic accident occurred. His death shook the organization, and the Angels celebrated his memory by hanging his uniform in their dugout during the entire 2009 season as they proceeded to make the American League playoffs.
Instead of contributing flowers to the funeral, the family welcomed donations to the Memorial Fund so they could help other young boys and young men pursue their dreams as well. The Kernels Foundation plans to use its $5,000 donation to help young athletes and baseball programs in the Cedar Rapids community.
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