Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Four passings in MLB to open the season

It feels so out of place here, in this sport that begins each new season with hope and promise and dreams as fresh as the return of spring.

And yet, just one week into the 2009 season, a death rattle has drowned out the joyous sound of “play ball.”

Last Thursday it was Nick Adenhart, the 22-year-old Los Angeles Angels pitcher killed in a car accident that also claimed the lives of two friends. Three days earlier -- on opening day -- it was Brian Powers, a 27-year-old Angels fan, found bleeding and unconscious in an Angels Stadium stairwell after a fatal altercation with other spectators.

Monday came the news that Harry Kalas, the legendary broadcaster of the Philadelphia Phillies since 1971, was found dead at age 73 in a broadcast booth in Washington, preparing for an afternoon game against the Nationals.

And then just hours later, one more shock: Mark “the Bird” Fidrych, one of the game’s purest characters, was found under his 10-wheel truck on his Massachusetts farm, dead of an apparent accident at age 54.

A promising player. A hometown fan. An unforgettable voice. A baseball original. All gone in the season’s first week.

Moments of silence, like the one they held for Kalas here Monday night, where the New York Mets were opening their new ballpark, Citi Field, have become as commonplace this misbegotten spring as the seventh-inning stretch.

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