Nick Adenhart will never be forgotten in his hometown, where family and friends mourned his loss Thursday.
In a story in USA Today, several of Adenhart's friends from Williamsport, Md., expressed their shock at the death of Adenhart, 22, who was killed early Thursday in a car accident in Fullerton, Calif., hours after he pitched six scoreless innings in his first 2009 start for the Los Angeles Angels.
"That's all he ever dreamed about, pitching in the big leagues," David Warrenfeltz, Adenhart's friend and catcher at Williamsport High School, told the paper. "Unfortunately, he didn't get to live his dream for long. It doesn't seem possible that this could happen."
Adenhart grew up in the town, which is located 75 miles west of Baltimore, and maintained close ties to the area, with an apartment in Baltimore.
On Thursday evening, about 150 people got together for a memorial to Adenhart on the pitching mound in a baseball field in Williamsport. There were prayers and stories and candles along with flowers and homemade signs.
One of Adenhart's good friends, Andy Kochera, attended the memorial and said he spoke to Adenhart before his Wednesday night start and text-messaged Adenhart's father, Jimmy, during the game. He also said Jimmy called him Thursday morning to relay the tragic news.
"He told me to sit down," Kochera told the paper. "I thought good news. He said, 'Nick's dead.' I said, 'You're lying.' He said, 'No, he was killed in a car accident.' I got that call at 8:37 a.m. I can't believe it."
USA Today also spoke to Adenhart's high school coach, Rod Steiner.
"He got to the big leagues, and that shows you what kind of guy he was," Steiner said. "He made friends with his teammates and opponents. He never acted like he was better than anyone else."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.