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Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs' sudden death at 27 recalls team's history of tragedy

Since the franchise's inception in the 1960s, the Los Angeles Angels have lost several players to tragic circumstances.
/ Source: TODAY

For many fans, the shocking death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs has been a painful reminder of the unusual number of players lost to tragedy during the franchise's 58-year history.

Skaggs, 27, was pronounced dead Monday after being found in his hotel room in the Dallas suburb of Southlake ahead of the Angels' scheduled game against the Texas Rangers.

No cause of death was made public, and authorities said neither foul play nor suicide was suspected. The Angels postponed the game against the Rangers.

For many, the Santa Monica native's death immediately recalled the loss of Nick Adenhart, a rising star pitcher who died in 2009.

Adenhart, 22, and two friends were killed when their car was struck by a drunk driver speeding through a red light.

The tragedy also brought to mind Luis Valbuena, a utility player who played two seasons with the Angels in 2017 and 2018. Valbuena, 33, was killed in a car crash in his native Venezuela in December.

"When I first heard the news, I thought it was fake,” Angels fan Luis Rodriguez told The Athletic. "First Adenhart and then (Luis) Valbuena and now Tyler? Is there a curse? Is something wrong?"

The Angels' history of tragic loss goes back to the franchise's origins in the 1960s, when rookie reliever Dick Wantz died of a brain tumor in 1965.

Outfielder Minnie Rojas was paralyzed in a car accident in 1968, and utility infielder Chico Ruiz died four years later in a car accident in San Diego.

Fans gathered at a makeshift memorial at the Angel Stadium to mourn the loss of pitcher Tyler Skaggs after his death Monday at 27. AP

In 1974, rookie pitcher Bruce Heinbechner died in another car accident during spring training, and yet another car crash claimed the life of Angels' No. 1 draft pick, Mike Miley, three years later.

That was followed by the 1978 death of outfielder Lyman Bostock, who was coming off an All-Star season. He was shot and killed in Gary, Indiana, before a game against the Chicago White Sox.

The run of tragedy continued in 1989, when former Angels relief pitcher Donnie Moore, who gave up a game-winning home run that cost the team a shot at the World Series in 1986, shot his estranged wife and then killed himself.

Skaggs had just pitched Saturday, allowing two earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 4-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

He was drafted in 2009 by the Angels and traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, where the California native pitched for two seasons before returning to Los Angeles in 2014.

"I'm an Angels fan. This is tough," Roberto Gutierrez told NBC Los Angeles on Monday. "He was there for us. We've got be there for his family."

Skaggs had become a clubhouse leader and beloved part of the team despite battling injuries in the last four seasons.

Angels superstar outfielder Mike Trout remembered him as "a great teammate, friend and person" in a Twitter post Monday.

New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton also wrote a heartfelt Instagram post to the Angels players grieving Skaggs' loss.

Stanton experienced similar heartbreak as a member of the Miami Marlins, who lost superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez in 2016 when he was killed in a boating crash.

"Try to Focus & understand how important your strength is for his family, all of your supporters & anyone looking for the power to overcome something,'' Stanton wrote. "They're looking @ you for guidance. So you all really need each other right now. Stay strong fellas I'm thinking about you!"