HAGERSTOWN — Nick Adenhart is gone but not forgotten.
It has been almost 2 1/2 years since the former star pitcher at Williamsport High School was killed in an auto accident in Fullerton, Calif., just after his first start of the 2009 season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
In one swift instant, a young talent who was Washington County’s tie to major league baseball was gone. But more importantly, so was a son, a brother, a friend and a teammate to many. Items carrying Adenhart’s No. 34 dot businesses in the area and he still remains a vivid memory for the baseball community.
The Hagerstown Suns will bring those two factions together on Tuesday at 7 p.m. when they host Nick Adenhart Night at Municipal Stadium.
“I didn’t know Nick was from this area when I moved here,” admits Suns general manager Bill Farley. “I found out how much he meant to this area. This is going to be a nice evening to honor Nick and for us to give something nice to the community.”
The Suns will unveil a plaque honoring Adenhart, which will be placed on the team’s Wall of Fame in right field.
The wall features three retired numbers — No. 24 for Willie Mays, No. 42 for Jackie Robinson and No. 50 for late South Atlantic League president John Henry Moss. Adenhart never played for the Suns, but spent many games in his amateur career pitching at Municipal Stadium.
Besides the ceremony, the Suns will also host a silent auction featuring at least 55 signed baseball collectibles, including autographed balls and bats from various stars.
All proceeds from the auction and a percentage of gate receipts from the game will be donated to the Nick Adenhart Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is designed to provide financial support to youth baseball organizations.
“I didn’t know Nick by name, but I knew he was the player who died in the auto accident,” said Sara Grasmon, the Suns director of marketing and community relations and the coordinator of the event. “I’m from a small town and I know how something like this affects a small town.”
The event was created as a number of ideas were merged into one.
“We worked with Mike Shifler, who organized the Nick Adenhart 5K and I said ‘We should host an Adenhart Night,’” Farley said. “Mike checked with his Mom and Dad and it was OK’d. (Suns media director) Bryan Holland also came up with the idea and (Suns majority owner) Bruce Quinn said he would talk to some of his connections in the majors for support.
“Then Sara started sending letters out and did a fantastic job coordinating it all. It just speaks volumes for Nick because so many teams to have pitched in.”
Grasmon said about a dozen major league teams have committed signed items for the auction, led by the Angels. A Torii Hunter autographed jersey, an autographed Norman Rockwell print of Brooks Robinson and Jared Weaver autographed ball are among the items.
A number of minor league teams have also sent memorabilia, including the Suns who will be offering items signed by Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg.
The items will be displayed on the stadium concourse along with a minimal bid for the auction. All items are pictured online at www.hagerstownsuns.com and on the Hagerstown Suns Facebook page.
Grasmon said the Adenhart Memorial Fund earmarks all money raised by an area stays in that area. Everything raised on Tuesday will be used in Washington County.
“I’m hoping for a huge turnout,” she said. “This is a great chance for us to reach out to the community.”
Also, it will be another chance for local fans to remember and honor Nick Adenhart.
“It has been really cool to see how willing people are to pitch in,” Grasmon said. “I hope we raise a lot of money for the fund. It will help the community. Nick would have wanted that.”