Nick Adenhart, 1986-2009

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.

— To An Athlete Dying Young, A.E. Housman

I was feeling under the weather when I went to sleep last night, and when I got the call from my friend this morning that woke me up, I found myself feeling even worse.  But whatever ails me now pales in comparison to what the family, friends, and teammates of Angels’ pitcher Nick Adenhart must be going through right now, after the young man was senselessly killed last night in a hit-and-run accident in Los Angeles, almost immediately after the starter had looked outstanding in what was only his fourth major league start.

Death is often senseless — and the death of someone as young and with as much promise to his life as Adenhart had is always doubly so.  For those of us like myself who only knew Adenhart as a name in a box score or a stat line, this tragedy should serve as wake-up call of just how fleeting life actually is — and a reminder for all of us to count our blessings each and every day, and to hold on to the people we hold most dear a little tighter when we go to sleep at night.

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