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Parasiliti: Some life lessons are worth a reminder

September 30, 2012
  • Bob Parasiliti
Joe Crocetta

Sometimes, even the most valuable lessons need refresher courses.

Personally, I’ve had a run of summer school classes lately.

An old friend I just recently got reacquainted with sort of pulled back the curtain on a window and thankfully showed me it is really sunny outside, especially if you take the time to look and experience it.

That’s one I’ve graded poorly in lately.

Then, I revisited the one I learned the hard way.

My dad, even with his passing, taught me something valuable I try to remember every day.

You don’t have to be rich, famous or powerful to make a difference just by showing up every day. Live your life with a little conviction and you will affect more people than you know.

I learned that during my dad’s viewings 17 years ago. I found out he was a far greater man in the eyes of his friends and coworkers than some kings are to their kingdoms.

That lesson, too, was slipping away at times because I question my purpose.

It changed a little Saturday with an unsolicited casual reminder.

On that morning was the second annual Nick Adenhart Memorial Baseball Camp at Williamsport High School. The camp carried a theme to remind baseball players that they are part of a family while honing their fledgling games.

The camp aimed to keep the memory of Adenhart alive. Adenhart attended similar camps and played his formative years at Williamsport, becoming a top pitching prospect who later made the major leagues with the Los Angeles Angels. His career was cut short in April 2009 when he was killed in a car accident shortly after his season debut with the Angels, which may have been his best game ever.

The proceeds from Saturday’s camp and a silent auction went to the Adenhart Memorial Fund, designed to be used to help enhance and strengthen the grassroots of youth baseball, which helped produce Adenhart.

One of the first people who wanted to be on hand for the clinic was Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Darren O’Day, whose history with Adenhart continues to fuel his career and everyday life.

Be it fate or faith, O’Day and Adenhart first crossed paths in 2007 during Angels’ minor league spring training.

“That’s a crazy time,” O’Day said. “There were 150 guys running around and you don’t get to know them all. I met Nick there, but I don’t think we were friends yet.”

That soon changed when they met again as teammates with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. O’Day admits it was kind of an odd combination, since he was a non-drafted free agent and Adenhart was drafted highly and became one of the Angels’ top prospects.

“Nick stood out because he was a genuine guy,” O’Day said. “He shot up the system. For some reason, he took time with me. He made me comfortable and he made me laugh every day, be it with one of his free-form raps or an impersonation.

“He helped me acclimate to minor league baseball, which isn’t easy because you are living away from home, away from everybody. We talked a lot. He went out of his way for me.”

The pair eventually spent a little time together as Angels teammates in 2008 and had adjoining lockers. Then, O’Day left L.A. as a Rule 5 draft pick of the New York Mets.

O’Day watched Adenhart from afar and texted his friend after hearing about and reading the box score from his big game against Oakland on April 8. Shortly after, in the early-morning hours of April 9, the media notified him that Adenhart was killed.

“I pitched with a heavy heart for three days,” O’Day said. “The Mets asked me if I wanted to go to the funeral and I said ‘no,’ because I thought I would get cut.”

A week later, O’Day was released by the Mets. On April 22, two weeks after Adenhart’s death, he signed with Texas.

Fate or faith stepped in again as O’Day’s first road trip with Texas was to Baltimore.

“God works in funny ways,” O’Day said. “I rented a car and drove here to visit Nick’s gravesite and see the memorials to him. I was able to make peace with the greatest teammate I ever had.

“I dedicated my career to him. I was pitching timid and was afraid to be cut. Because of him, I started pitching with abandon.”

O’Day carries a constant memorial to Adenhart. He took off the Orioles cap he was wearing and showed the contingent of about 70 campers, parents and fans the underside.

“I put Nick’s initials and number in every hat I wear,” O’Day said.

O’Day went to the 2010 World Series with Texas. He was released by the Rangers and signed with the Orioles, for whom he has been a valuable asset with his 7-1 record and 2.35 ERA in 66 appearances.

It also gave O’Day the chance to make a second trip to Adenhart’s hometown on Saturday.

“I ask him every day to be with me. I know he is with me,” he said.

Again, because of fate or faith, it reaffirmed the idea that people show up in each other’s lives for a reason or a season, an idea passed on to me by my reacquaintance.

Darren O’Day is married and has numerous fans, but will always be driven by the kindness of an unexpected person named Nick Adenhart.

I, in turn, remember I have been shaped by countless people, starting with my father and the way he treated the people he crossed paths with before Adenhart took that mantle.

I just hope I’m able to pass those refresher courses on to others, 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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