Younger brother continues Adenhart's legacySophomore Gigeous plays high school baseball in Illinois
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
01/16/10 1:00 AM EST
On a lazy March afternoon, lounging at a picnic table outside the home clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium, Nick Adenhart was talking about his future with the Angels when he suddenly took a detour.
"Hey, I've got to tell you about my brother," Adenhart said, his pride aglow through a big smile. "His name is Henry, and he's something special.
"He's a pitcher, too, just a kid, and he's already got some good stuff. I can't wait to see how he's going to develop."
Less than a month later, having just made the best of his four Major League starts at Angel Stadium in the opening week of the 2009 season, Nick Adenhart passed away.
He was one of three victims in a horrific two-car crash in Fullerton, Calif. Companions Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart also perished, while another passenger, Jon Wilhite, survived with critical injuries and has made a miraculous recovery.
Henry Gigeous is the kid brother Nick loved and nurtured. Henry lives in Algonquin, Ill., and he pitches and plays corner infield positions for the H.D. Jacobs High School team. He's a sophomore this year, tall (6-foot-3) and talented, like half-brother Nick Adenhart.
Gigeous will be presented with the Bo Jackson Courage Award by the Pitch and Hit Club of Chicago at the organization's 64th annual Awards Banquet on Sunday. It will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.
Gigeous family members will attend along with Henry's teammates and coaches. One of those Jacobs High coaches, assistant John Sarna, recalls how Adenhart would drop by during the offseason and spend time with Henry and his Jacobs teammates, offering tips and advice and just hanging out. Nick was, after all, not that far removed from his high school days in Maryland.
Nick's mother, Janet Gigeous, lives in Algonquin, Ill., with her husband, Duane. Adenhart, who divided time between his parents' homes growing up, gave his stepfather considerable credit for his development as a pitcher.
Now Duane Gigeous is devoting his energies to Henry, 16 and apparently as dedicated as his big brother was in his formative years en route to becoming one of the country's premier prospects at Williamsport, Md., High School. After blowing out his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery as a senior, Adenhart was taken in the 14th round by the Angels in 2004 and signed for $710,000.
"I knew about Nick Adenhart, being a bird-dog scout for the White Sox," said Sarna, in his 11th year at Jacobs. "Two falls ago, we had a workout on the high school field, and I remember leaving the field and seeing this guy who looked familiar. Our varsity coach, Eric Sanders, asked me if I knew of him, and I said, 'Sure.'
"He said, 'Do you know we have his kid brother here at Jacobs?' I got to know Henry, and I've been working with him ever since. He made two starts as a freshman for the varsity and is just getting started, but people are talking about him. We've had two kids who were high Draft picks, and they haven't had that type of potential."
Henry Gigeous has a nice stroke to go with his advanced mound skills. He also played football, tight end and linebacker, as a freshman at Jacobs.
"He knows more about pitching than all our pitchers combined," Sarna said. "He knows where his mistakes are, mechanical flaws. He knows exactly what he has to work on. You can tell he's spent a lot of time around people who know what they're talking about."
After his Major League debut in 2008, which featured one win in three outings, Adenhart spent the offseason studying video of masters such as Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux and Sandy Koufax. Committed, at 22, to taking his talents as far as possible, he wanted to absorb everything he could and incorporate elements from the greats into his style and delivery.
After a strong spring, Adenhart was brilliant in his 2009 debut on April 8, dealing six scoreless innings against the A's at Angel Stadium. Several hours later, he was a passenger in a Mitsubishi Eclipse that was broadsided at about 12:30 a.m. in nearby Fullerton by a minivan.
The driver, Andrew Thomas Gallo, fled on foot and was apprehended shortly after the accident. Gallo had a suspended license from a previous DUI conviction. According to reports, Anaheim police said Gallo's blood-alcohol was "substantially over the legal limit" of 0.08 percent. He was charged with multiple felonies, including triple murder.
"I know how extremely hard it was for Henry," Sarna said. "Those two were so close. After it happened, Henry came to school and played in a game the next day for the sophomore team. Before one game, some of the kids went to the back of the mound and put 'NA 34' on it, and wrote it on their hats. It was the kind of thing you like to see."
Henry surely realized his brother would have wanted him to keep competing, just as the Angels carried on in Adenhart's spirit by dedicating their season in his memory in a variety of ways, both visible and intangible.
One of the highlights of Gigeous' summer, Sarna said, was being invited to U.S. Cellular Field by the Angels when they paid a visit to Chicago. John Lackey was Henry's personal tour guide, according to Torii Hunter.
"Lackey took him around and gave him some tips on how to throw, inside stuff," Hunter said. "I was hurt at the time, and he watched me do my rehab. He went around the room, talking to the guys, and he seemed real cool, like Nick. He's an outgoing guy, not shy at all. He had a smile on his face the whole time. He has some character.
"He took [batting practice] with the pitchers, and they said he hit the ball pretty good. He's a big kid, tall. We're going to stay in touch with the family and watch him go through the ranks, whether it's going to college or getting drafted. He'll always be in our minds, because of Nick."
Sarna was in touch with Gigeous during his memorable day with the Angels.
"He said Torii Hunter and the players were great to him," Sarna said. "Henry was texting me that he hit a couple of balls to the wall in batting practice. I thought that was a great gesture by the club. It really lifted his spirits. The Angels have been first class all the way with the Gigeous family."
Gigeous is among the nearly two dozen award winners, including Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg. Proceeds from the dinner go to benefit worthy baseball causes including Cubs Care, White Sox Charities and the Professional Baseball Scouts Association.Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.