Statues of Nick Adenhart, Preston Gomez stir emotions among Angels
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The normal hustle and bustle of the morning clubhouse came to a near standstill Friday when Tim Salmon, the former Angels outfielder serving as a guest instructor this week, placed two bronze statues on a table in the middle of the room.
One was of Nick Adenhart, the 22-year-old pitcher who was killed in an automobile accident last April, in the follow-through of his pitching motion. The other was a bust of former coach, scout and special advisor Preston Gomez, wearing his trademark Panama hat. Gomez died at age 86 in January 2009.
One by one, players stopped by to pay tribute and marvel at their likeness to their subjects.
"Wow, those are amazing," Angels reliever Jason Bulger said. "Seeing Nick and Preston brings back some strong emotions. Geez, I don't know how an artist can do that. They're absolutely gorgeous. Those are special pieces right there."
The Angels commissioned the statues from Missouri-based artist Harry Weber, whom team president John Carpino met at a booth at last summer's All-Star Game Fan Fest in St. Louis. At the time, Weber was working on a piece of former Cardinals great Stan Musial.
They will be displayed in Angel Stadium, and smaller versions of the statues will be given to pitcher Jered Weaver, who won the Adenhart Award as the team's top pitcher last season, and rookie-ball Manager Tom Kotchman, who won the organization's minor league manager of the year award.
"It's an honor to receive that," Weaver said. "You can tell by his pitching motion that it resembles Nick to the max. You've got to stare at it a bit, and his facial features pop out at you. Whoever put that together is definitely good at what he does."
-- Mike DiGiovanna
Photos: The statues of Nick Adenhart, left, and Preston Gomez. Credit: Mike DiGiovanna