All Los Angeles Angels fans remember the heartbreaking story of Nick Adenhart. Adenhart was just 22 and coming off of his 2009 season debut — a six-inning shutout — when he was killed by a drunk driver alongside two others. Adenhart’s No. 34 jersey was unofficially retired for over a decade following the tragedy.
13 years after his death, the Angels are bringing the No. 34 out of retirement with the acquisition of Noah Syndergaard. The newest Angels starter has worn 34 his entire career, with his agent saying that it was to honor Nolan Ryan.
But when he got to the Angels, he thought about changing it, until Angels general manager Perry Minasian convinced him otherwise. Adenhart’s family — and specifically his step-dad Duane Gigeous — believed it was time for a new player to don the No. 34 and honor Adenhart in the process, according to Sam Blum of The Athletic:
“We are of the opinion that we think there could be no one better than Noah Syndergaard to wear it,” Adenhart’s stepfather, Duane Gigeous, told The Athletic. He was also speaking on behalf Nick’s mother, Janet Gigeous, and half brother, Henry Gigeous.
“We appreciate the type of pitcher that he is and the type of competitor that he is. … I think, hopefully, it will spark some conversations. There’s a generation of baseball fans who don’t know who Nick is and don’t know Nick’s story. And (13) years later, it might be time that sparks a conversation of, ‘Hey, this was Nick Adenhart.’”
Gigeous continued on to say that he is more than satisfied with the way the Angels handled Adenhart’s death and how they’ve since honored him. He’s also hoping that Syndergaard can complete a specific task wearing his stepson’s jersey.
“Sometimes you can make the legacy go on by wearing the number and putting it out there in public,” Gigeous said. “… They’ve done enough for us. We can’t ask any more of the Angels than they’ve already done for us. We’re extremely proud to be associated with them in every way.”
Said Gigeous: “I hope he wins the Cy Young wearing No. 34.”
The Angels have dealt with their fair share of loss over the years, with Adenhart and the subsequent tragedy of Tyler Skaggs. Perhaps Syndergaard — wearing No. 34 — can honor Adenhart by going on the mound and being the dominant pitcher the Angels desperately need.
He appears ready for that task after conversations with his agent and Minasian.
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