With the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Bunnies) taking the field and the spotlight for the first minor league professional baseball game at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville tonight, this alone will come with its own set of memories. But as the Des Moines Register reports, there will be more than winning on their mind and a brighter spotlight, in spirit, on a beloved former teammate.

Nick Adenhart was not from Iowa. He was from Maryland but played one season with the Kernels in 2006 on his way to up the ladder to the major leagues . The Register describes his trajectory toward Cedar Rapids:

The right-hander from Maryland was projected to be a possible first-round draft pick out of high school in 2004 but suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. It damaged his draft stock and sent Adenhart freefalling into the 14th round to the Angels. He spent his first season rehabbing and didn't make his pro debut until 2005

The Kernels, who were then an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, called him up in 2006. He went 10-2 during his time as a starter in Cedar Rapids, was a beloved figure in the Cedar Rapids dugout, and despite not being from here, became an adopted hometown favorite.

Adenhart made his major league debut in 2008, but a year later, he was gone. After a game in 2009, a drunk driver struck the car Adenhart was riding in as a passenger, which crashed into a telephone pole and instantly killed Adenhart and three others in the vehicle. According to the Register, the drunk driver, a repeat offender, was sentenced to 51 years to life in prison.

In an emotional ceremony in 2010, Adenhart's mother and stepdad, Janet, and Duane Gigeous returned to Cedar Rapids to present the Kernels with $10,000 to begin a scholarship fund in Nick Adenhart's name, and unveil a sign honoring him on the outfield wall of Veteran's Memorial Stadium.

You can learn more here about how Nick Adenhart came to be so beloved by Cedar Rapids baseball fans, and while none of his former teammates are with the current roster, some may surely be in the stands. If you have the Major League Baseball network, you can watch to see how inspiring his spirit will be with his former team tonight.

Legacy Stone House in Winterset

LOOK: The story behind every NFL team name

Stacker delved into the story behind every NFL football team name. Overall team records, also included, are reflective of NFL regular-season games. There are some football teams with well-known nicknames—the Jets, for instance, are often referred to as Gang Green—but we also divulge how some teams’ official names are sparingly used (the Jets’ neighbors, the Giants, are actually known as the New York Football Giants). Sometimes a team name can tell you a lot about local history: The Vikings of Minnesota draw upon the area’s strong ties to Scandinavia, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dripping in local legend related to Florida’s pirate past.

Let’s kick off the countdown with the folks who earned their nickname by buying boxes of used team jerseys.

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