A sad week in baseball got even worse Tuesday.
As if the deaths of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, former major league star Mark (The Bird) Fidrych and Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas (Philadelphia Phillies) were not enough, news came out of Illinois that Gateway Grizzlies rookie hurler Brandon Villalobos had died in a weekend dune buggy accident.
Villalobos, 23, had been scheduled to begin his professional career when he reported to the Frontier League team in Sauget, IL (near St. Louis) May 6. The lefty had once been drafted by the Chicago White Sox, but he chose to attend San Diego State. The dune buggy he was driving is said to have struck a dirt berm and rolled several times.
"We lost a promising young ball player and an even better person," said Gateway Manager Phil Warren, in a statement.
I do not know about Adenhart, but Fidrych and Kalas had at least indirect ties to the Independent game. Fidrych was among those known to take part in old-timers games such as those put together by Bill (Spaceman) Lee in the Northeast. Kalas was well known to all the onetime Phillies players now in Independent leagues.
"Harry Kalas is truly irreplaceable--the greatest voice in baseball," lamented Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers Manager Von Hayes, who was a Philadelphia outfielder (1983-91). "He was a very dear friend of mine," a statement released by the Atlantic League team continued. "Philadelphia sports will never be the same."