Sadness hit the baseball and non-baseball communities Monday afternoon upon learning of the passing of Los Angeles Angels pitcher, Tyler Skaggs.
That’s what happens when someone dies at the tender age of 27.
Shortly after the news broke that Skaggs was found unresponsive in his Texas hotel, social media was beset by an outpouring of grief from the MLB executive office, current and former teammates, other players and front office personnel, baseball writers and fans, and those who didn’t know who Skaggs was before yesterday.
His teammates talked about how he kept the locker room upbeat and was someone who loved life.
As expected, yesterday’s game between the Angels and Texas Rangers was canceled. Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels and manager Chris Woodward were both very emotional when they met with the press.
They grieved for his wife of seven months, Carli. They grieved for his mom, legendary softball coach, Debbie.
By all accounts, Skaggs was beloved his teammates, admired by his opponents, and just a great guy.
We are deeply saddened by the tragic news that Tyler Skaggs, 27, passed away this morning. https://t.co/q150hyH01J pic.twitter.com/y1X5ctlWDl
— MLB (@MLB) July 1, 2019
A tearful Billy Eppler (Angels GM): “He had a long life ahead of him, and now that’s gone. Everybody grieves in their own way, and everybody has to find peace through this eventually, but it’s just a tragic day for everybody, especially his family.”
I am devastated about the passing of my close friend @TylerSkaggs37… what a great kid and ultimate competitor. He always wanted to get better and it was awesome being apart of his development! My heart is w his wife Carli and his mom Debbie 🙏🏻🙏🏻
— Jered Weaver (@Weave1036) July 1, 2019
Giancarlo Stanton, who lost his teammate Jose Fernandez in 2016, had this to say: “RIP Bro, My heart goes out to your family. My message to the Angels while having no time for yourself to grieve is to hug each other, laugh, cry, lift the ones taking it extra hard up.
You’re going to wonder why all of this is happening , is it real, why are u suiting up to play a game that seems irrelevant.
Some Anger will ensue while u have to grieve in a fish bowl.. A lot will go through your mind. So stay together through that. The first days back to schedule are the weirdest feeling, from the energy to the questions to having to walk by his locker.
Try to Focus & understand how important your strength is for his family, all of your supporters & anyone looking for the power to overcome something. They’re looking @ you for guidance. So you all really need each other right now.
Stay strong fellas I’m thinking about you!”
The Angels have had more than their fair share of tragedy in recent years. In 2009, 22-year old pitcher Nick Adenhart was struck and killed by a drunk driver.
Last summer, Angels’ prospect (and Mike Trout’s brother-in-law) Aaron Cox committed suicide. He was only 24-years old.
Prior to this season, infielder Luis Valbuena and two others died in a car crash while playing winter ball in Venezuela.
In 1992, the Angels’ team bus swerved off the road into a tree-laden area. 13 people were injured, including manager Cal McLish, who broke an elbow, knee, and a rib. Traveling Secretary Frank Sims cracked ribs and suffered a punctured lung.
In 1978, star outfielder Lyman Bostock was shot and killed while riding in the backseat of a car. The shooter was the estranged/jealous husband of a female passenger sitting next to Bostock. Bostock had only met the woman 20 minutes prior to traveling together in the car.
Minnie Rojas was an infielder on the California Angels 1970 squad. While driving home from a family vacation on March 31st of that year, Rojas’ car was struck by a hit-and-run driver. Two of his children were killed in the crash, and Rojas suffered injuries to his spinal cord that left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Infielder Chico Ruiz (1972), pitcher Bruce Heinbechner (1974), and infielder Mike Miley (1977) each died in separate car accidents. In 1965, pitcher Dick Wants made his Major League debut and died a month later of cancer.
I would never say that a team is jinxed, but the Angels certainly have had more than enough bad things impact members of their organization.