July 12th: the day Cy Young achieved his 300th victory as a starting pitcher; the day Ty Cobb completed the stolen base cycle, swiping second, third, and home in one inning; the day of the infamous “Disco Demolition Night,” in which the White Sox were forced to forfeit a game against the Tigers after fans stormed, and refused to leave, the outfield.
Yes, July 12th is a very memorable date in baseball history. But from this day forward, July 12th will have an entirely different connotation throughout the MLB: the day the Los Angeles Angels pitched a combined no-hitter, dedicated to their beloved teammate and friend, Tyler Skaggs.
It’s been almost two weeks since Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs tragically passed away after being found unresponsive in his hotel room. However, the feelings of love, compassion, and sympathy for Skaggs’ family have yet to dissipate. In fact, these sentiments continued to resonate around the league as many players gathered for the All-Star Game this past Tuesday evening.
At the Mid-Summer Classic, a moment of silence was taken before the game in honor of Skaggs, many of Skaggs’ ex-teammates wore patches with his number, “45”, and L.A. Angels players Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella wore jerseys stitched with Skaggs’ number.
The solidarity displayed Tuesday night among coaches, teammates, and fans is the epitome of why baseball players (and all professional athletes) play the sports they love. There is certainly a feeling of satisfaction of excelling in a sport at a professional level, but the camaraderie that pro-athletes forge with their communities is unparalleled.
Fast forward to the night of Friday, July 12th and this camaraderie was on full display at Angel Stadium as the Angels remembered and honored Tyler Skaggs. The night began with a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Skaggs’ mother, Debbie, who fired a strike down the middle of home plate. Almost three hours later, Felix Peña and Taylor Cole had pitched a combined no-hitter and a 6 RBI performance by Mike Trout had led to a 13-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
There could not have been a more fitting tribute to Tyler Skaggs. Not only was the combined no-hitter completed hours before what would have been Skaggs’ 28th birthday, but every Angels player also donned Skaggs’ jersey. (Unbelievably, the last combined no-hitter in California occurred on 7/13/1991, which is Skaggs’ date of birth). Moreover, the no-hitter was the 11th no-hitter in Angels history, which is coincidentally the same number (11) that Skaggs wore in high school.
Many have compared Friday night’s events to those when Dee Gordon hit a lead-off home-run in the first game after Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernandez passed away. Both instances evoke a surreal emotion, in which you feel convinced that the players––whether Skaggs or Fernandez––are still embedded within the clubhouse, helping to spark a team through a difficult time.
While players will continue to mourn Skaggs’ death for months to come, it’s fair to say that Friday’s game provided a moment of remembrance and closure for the MLB. And, for the 2 hours and 54 minutes of game time, one couldn’t help but think that an Angel had come down from heaven.