Baseball. It’s America’s past time. It’s a sport that begins on playgrounds, moves to little league, high school, college, and eventually the big league ballparks. It’s a kid’s game that is played as such. But sometimes life happens and you have to take a step back and realize that while players can be your heroes, they are not immortal.
On Monday that happened again when Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas. He was only 27. The Angels were in town to begin a series with the Texas Rangers. That game was postponed. It will be eventually made up in August.
This was another shocking blow to the Angels who just 10 years ago also lost pitcher Nick Adenhardt in a car accident wherein he was killed by a drunk driver.
Baseball, like any sport, is a close knit fraternity. His death doesn’t just affect his fellow Angels’ teammates, but is felt throughout all of baseball, especially those who played with him who are now on other teams. And then there is his wife Carli and mother Debbie who are impacted the most.
As a die hard fan of the game I will admit that I shed a few tears, especially when reading the tributes from several major league players and coaches. The Los Angeles Chargers of the NFL and the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers also offered their condolences. It transcended all sports.
There has been a lot of tragic deaths in baseball. One of the first big ones was Lou Gehrig who lost his life to ALS which eventually would become a disease named after him. I wasn’t alive when Roberto Clemente passed away in a plane crash while on a relief mission. And I was just a kid when Thurman Munson died in a plane crash in 1979.
The first time I remembered about hearing a death in baseball of active players was in 1993. That was when a boating accident killed Cleveland Indians teammates Steve Olin and Tim Crews. Bob Ojeda was injured but survived. Olin and Crews were the first active players since Munson to pass away.
2002 saw the death of Darryl Kile who, like Skaggs, was found dead in his hotel room. He had died from a heart attack. He was 33.
Now more recently we have seen the deaths of St. Louis Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras ( 2014, car accident), Miami Marlins young ace Jose Fernandez (2016, boat accident)and Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura (2017,car accident).
Baseball, like other things in life, will still go on. It was a sad day. It will be a sad year. But life has to go on. And we have to remember that our favorite players, our heroes, are just as mortal as anybody else. Always take time to tell your family and friends how much you love them. For now the sports world mourns.
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