Our Daily Dread: Memories of Memorial Day weekend ’09

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Photo by Tim Hoffarth
Lauren Hoffarth, 5, looks at the tribute to Nick Adenhart outside of Angels Stadium before Monday’s game.

Things we learned over the last couple of days enjoying the time off with family, friends and many new non-strangers:

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== It’s been almost two months now since the tragic passing of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, but the collection of hats, photos, candles and other memorabilia that tastefully decorate the “mound” outside the entrance of Angel Stadium lives on as a touching tribute, which we were able to see and ponder before and after Monday’s Angels-White Sox contest.

What started as a very small place to put flowers and grew into a massive gathering place to mourn in the days after has evolved into a small shrine that fans circled around and gazed at in the time after the Angels’ fireworks show ended Monday.

Angels exec Tim Mead said the team has decided to let it remain “as long as the fans continue to call for it,” with just occasional housekeeping. It has weathered the nearly 50 days and nights since April 9 when Adenhart and friends Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart were killed in the car crash in Fullerton following Adenhart’s impressive performance in his first start of the season.

Survivor Jon Wilhite continues to recover, his condition upgraded to “fair” as he undergoes speech, physical and occupational therapy at a rehabilitation center. Oakland A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki, who played with Wilhite at Cal State Fullerton in 2004, put together an auction last weekend during the Titans’ three-game homestand against Long Beach State to raise money for his rehab costs.

“Our hearts go out to all the families of those involved in this terrible tragedy,” Suzuki said. “I only hope that the money raised will alleviate some of the cost that Jon and his family will be faced with during his long rehab process.”

The A’s are also hosting an online auction at oaklandathletics.com in June, and two more fundraisers will happen in July and August at Oakland Coliseum.

Donations can be made to the Jon Wilhite Recovery Fund, account 3980643658, at any Wells Fargo Bank branch, or to a tax deductible account set up through Manhattan Beach Little League by mailing a check to: Manhattan Beach Little League, P.O. Box 3512, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, with “Jon Wilhite Recovery Fund” written in on the memo line.

Part of the post-accident surgery and six-week hospital stay included a rare operation on April 15 that reattached Wilhite’s skull and spinal column.

Last week, Suzuki said he was exchanging text messages with Wilhite, who texted him to tell him he was discharged from the hospital.

“That’s obviously great news,” Suzuki said. “But he’s still looking at a long, tough and not-inexpensive process of getting healthy again.”

Mead says he speaks with Wilhite’s uncle a couple of times a week and reports that Wilhite has returned home and will continue with out-patient therapy but his “outlook is bright and positive.”

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== Our new favorite athlete: Wesley Korir.

Not so much for winning the L.A. Marathon in a record 2 hours, 8 minutes, 24 seconds. But for the fact (story linked here) that he ordered two tuna sandwiches from the local Subway store after winning — one to eat right then after the race, and one to eat later that night. Upon leaving the shop, he saw a homeless woman asking for help. He gave her one of the sandwiches.

“I feel like God has given me the talent of running to show people his love,” Korir said in the column by the Daily News’ Jon Gold (linked here). “I’ve been thinking for months about going back to Kenya and starting a program to help youths understand their lives. People blame poverty. ‘Oh, we’re poor.’ I was poor. But I didn’t let poverty keep me down. You can do it, I want to go back and show them that it’s been done.”

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== If you caught any of the ABC coverage of the Indianapolis 500, explain how Vitor Meira is engulfed in flames one second, but is back on the track moments later without having lost a spot in the lead lap (see video above). That may be more unanswerable than how Danica Patrick finished third overall.

Meira was later carried off on a stretcher — but that was only after he crashed into a wall later, which appears to have ended his season (story linked here; photo below). Meira broke two vertebrae in his lower back during a crash with rookie Raphael Matos — only because Matos clipped Meira trying to pass him on lap 174, sending Meira’s car sliding along the wall.

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== There’s a story soon down the road soon on Stan Cline, the artist from Winnetka whose nostalgic portraits of former (and current) Los Angeles landmarks jump off the canvas in a brilliant, colorful way — one that doesn’t necessarily try to recreate a photograph in as much as it vibrantly captures so much character and personality. You look at the pieces and that moment in time becomes alive.

After years of running through his gallery at different arts fairs around town, we were moved to purchase a print in Hermosa Beach this weekend of his rendition of the old L.A. Wrigley Field — a place torn down 40 years ago last March. We also tried to recapture some of its glory — past and present — in a column (linked here) as well as some blog postings (linked here and here).

Stan and his wife (longtime Daily News readers) will make it out to about two dozen events this year around Southern California (check the schedule on his site linked here to see the prints in their full glory, and save on shipping costs), Also view his gallery at his site (linked here) and order online.

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In addition to reproductions of so many historical L.A. places, any of his prints of Dodger Stadium, a USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum, Santa Anita racetrack (left) or the old Gilmore Stadium (right) will certainly dress up any art collection. Even when put next to old photographs of the same place. Your eye will immediately go to the painting before the photo because there’s more fun there.

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== We regrettably missed the moved-out-of-Denver WWE “Monday Night Raw” show last night from Staples Center, or the telecast of it (TiVo was too full of Lakers, Dodgers, Indy 500 and L.A. Marathon for one weekend … oh, right, Senior PGA Golf, too).

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We were amused to hear that, in addition to a “showdown” between Vince McMahon and the phoney Stan Kroenke, the featured match consisted of five “good guys” in Lakers jerseys against five “heels” in Nuggets jerseys, while actors dressed as Jack Nicholson and Dr. Jerry Buss watched ringside (watch it here). These “Lakers” at least weren’t routed by nearly 20 points — which means that the series won’t end at Staples Center on Wednesday night.

Or … was the highlight Monday when a wrestler who came into the ring with a Clippers’ jersey (Baron Davis’ No. 1), leading the broadcasters to comment: “What kind of idiot would wear a Clippers’ jersey?”

If the Clippers ever wanted equal time — and maybe it’ll come in tonight’s WWE show, also at Staples Center — there could be a team of “plantation owners” — lead by owner Donald Sterling – facing off against a team of “slaves” led by Elgin Baylor and … you fill in the blanks.

Apparently, enough people still watched the Lakers-Nuggets Game 4 (instead of the WWE Raw) to give ESPN’s teleast an 7.1 overnight rating. Saturday’s Game 3 did a 5.4 rating (8.725 milllion viewers) to become ABC’s most-viewed NBA Conference Final game ever (a 2006 Detroit-Miami Eastern Conference game had 8.19 million viewers with a 5.5 rating).

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