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Parasiliti: Best memories come back just in Nick of time

July 15, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

We spend much of our lives really trying to get three things.

To be loved. To be successful. To be respected.

We want to stand out, make our families proud and start some sort of legacy.

But before we die, there is only one thing we worry about.

That is to be remembered.

Everyone wants to feel like they made a difference. Many want to prove their stay on this earth made an impact.

What that impact is depends.

Some do it with the families they raised. For a guy like George Foreman, he named all five of his sons George. At the worst, it’s free advertising for his grills.

Others raise money and attach to causes to help humanity. In turn, they get libraries, hospital wings and parks named for their efforts.

And still others do it by raising consciousness. All it takes is random acts of kindness, caring and friendship. That wins out every time and lasts the longest.

Let’s face it. We don’t remember people forever. Old school chums, former dates and past business acquaintances become overdue library books tossed in the corners of our minds.

Death is like relocation. It’s out of sight and out of mind.

Outside of family, sports — along with politics and entertainment — have a way of keeping certain people on our minds.

Statistics and records along with video and legend keep athletes in our heads long after they gone.

But there are others who are remembered just because of who they were.

Nick Adenhart seems to fall in that category. He remains steadfastly in the memory of many, many people even to this day.

Adenhart was tragically taken from baseball and the Washington County communities three years ago as he was a victim in a three-car crash involving a drunk driver in Fullerton, Calif.

He was taken on the night following his best outing in his all-too-brief Major League Baseball career with the Los Angeles Angels. He was far too young to make a mark with records and yet, today, his spirit lives on.

Adenhart’s family keeps his memory alive with the Nick Adenhart Memorial Fund, an initiative to enhance baseball on the grassroots level. The fund is raising money and distributing it to youth baseball organizations to help keep them alive.

Halfway Little League, where Adenhart played as a child, is one of the organizations that has benefited. The league has named a field for Nick to honor the accomplishments of its most successful alum.

The fund stays alive because of local donations and those of many major leaguers who don’t have to contribute, but knew and were touched by the then 24-year-old, up-and-coming star.

All are moving tributes, but they pale in comparison to the one given 10 days ago by Miguel Gonzalez.

Gonzalez was called on to make his first Major League start for the Baltimore Orioles against the Angels on July 6.

It was a dream come true, but it meant so much more.

He was making that start in Angels Stadium, the stage he had always hoped to grace.

Gonzalez was born and raised in L.A. and had signed with the Angels as an undrafted free agent in 2004, the same year the team drafted Adenhart.

Gonzalez’s career had some twists. Boston made him a Rule V selection and he pitched in its system — missing time because of injuries — before joining the Orioles this season.

He wasn’t in Baltimore’s plans this year, pitching in the minors until his hard work and some misfortunes in the O’s starting rotation gave him his chance.

Gonzalez responded by pitching seven innings, allowing a run on three hits, to lead the Orioles to a 3-2 win.

He did it in his hometown, in his boyhood cathedral, before 200 members of his family and friends.

He did it because he got the chance.

But he also did it in the memory of a good friend.

Gonzalez pitched while wearing one of Adenhart’s gloves. Adenhart had given Gonzalez the glove as a gift in 2007. Gonzalez has carried it with him to remember his fallen friend, but never used it until this game.

“I thought it was the perfect time to do it,” Gonzalez said. “We were pretty close. We played together for two years. I’m with him in my heart and obviously their family. I’m with them, too.”

It was obviously one of the biggest days in Gonzalez’s life, but he still managed to find the time to remember a departed friend he deeply missed. And he did it all on the same mound where Adenhart had his greatest accomplishment.

In a whirlwind of personal glory, Miguel Gonzalez covered the list of earthly desires in one game. He was loved, successful, respected and, finally, will be remembered for his performance.

And while he was at it, he made sure to cover it for Nick Adenhart, too.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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