Tuesday is the 10th anniversary of when former Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver just hours after pitching six scoreless innings in his fourth MLB start for the Los Angeles Angels. Two of his friends also died in the accident, and a third one survived despite suffering life-threatening injuries.
Adenhart was 22 years old and full of potential, projected to be a mainstay of the Angels pitching staff for years to come. I recommend reading this story by Los Angeles Times sports scribe Mike DiGiovanna reflecting on the event and its effects still felt a decade later.
The tragedy occurred just three years after Adenhart had a memorable season for the Kernels. The then-19-year-old righty went 10-2 with a 1.95 ERA, 99 strikeouts and 26 walks in 106 innings/16 starts for the 2006 team before the Angels promoted him to High-A for the rest of the season. He also was the starting pitcher for the U.S. team in that year’s Futures Game.
Adenhart is still remembered in Cedar Rapids today. The Adenhart family and the Kernels Foundation have awarded $1,000 scholarships in Nick’s memory since 2011. The Kernels also retired his jersey number 21.