Jeff Gritchen/Long Beach Press-Telegram staff photographer
Jon Wilhite throws out the first pitch as the Long Beach Armada faced the Orange County Flyers at Blair Field in Long Beach on June 27.
Lee Jenkins has a story in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated that focuses on the comeback of Jon Wilhite, the line survivor of the car accident that took the life of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two other friends.
Wilhite, a Manhattan Beach native and former catcher at Cal State Fullerton, was given a 5 percent chance of surviving the April accident and miniscule odds of completely recovering because of the fact his skull separated from his spinal chord.
Wilhite visited the team this past Father’s Day, as Jenkins recounts:
“When (Torii) Hunter noticed Wilhite by the Angels dugout before the game, he hugged him. So did pitchers Jered Weaver and Justin Speier, as well as the pitching coach who had been at the hospital on April 9, Mike Butcher. ‘You’re a true blessing,’ Hunter told Wilhite. ‘I want you to know that.’ Wilhite preferred to be one of the guys. ‘They weren’t ready for me in heaven,’ he said. ‘It was just like my baseball career–no one wanted me.’ Everybody laughed.”
Wilhite admits that he was a Dodgers fan who wore No. 14 because Mike Scioscia was his favorite player — both were lefty-hitting catchers.
“You’re not one of those Dodgers fans are you?’,” Scioscia asked Wilhite during a recent visit.
“I am a Dodgers fan,” Wilhite admited to Jenkins, “but because of what’s happened, I’m connected to the Angels for life.”