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Baseball had no other choice but to postpone tonight's A's series finale against the host Angels.

Baseball lost a fraternity member early Thursday morning.

Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart died from a three-car accident in Fullerton, just hours after pitching six shutout innings against the visiting A's in an eventual 6-4 Oakland win.

Anytime a tragic event like this hits, baseball's close-knit fraternity checks itself. Ballplayers must take a deep breath, appreciate their own lives and pay homage to the one that was lost.

Adenhart wasn't a superstar. He wasn't a household name. He wasn't a multi-millionaire who felt baseball owed him more dough, more fame, more everything.

He was a 22-year-old kid who overcame major arm surgery to reach the majors.

Wednesday night marked his fourth career start, and afterward, "he felt like a major leaguer," Adenhart's agent Scott Boras said in a tearful press conference broadcast by Comcast Sports Net Bay Area.

"It was a tremendously fulfilling moment for Nick," Boras said. "To see the glow of a young man after he takes a huge step in his life and matures. It's something we can all share in this game."

Because almost all ballplayers overcome obstacles to achieve their lifetime goal of reaching the big leagues, that forms a bond among them and that really resonates on day's like this.

"Major League Baseball is in mourning today upon the news of this tragedy that has taken Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others. Nick was just 22 years of age, with a wonderful life and career ahead of him," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my sincere sympathy to the families and friends of all three (accident) victims and to the entire Angels' organization. I send my deepest condolences to Nick's parents, Jim and Janet. The hearts of everyone in baseball are with them at this most difficult time."

The A's have been through other difficult times in recent years. Former pitcher Joe Kennedy died in 2007. Cory Lidle in 2006. Two years ago, the St. Louis Cardinals (and former A's manager Tony La Russa) found themselves mourning the death of a pitcher when Josh Hancock also died in a car accident.

Angels manager Mike Scoscia should have been talking Thursday about how great Adenhart pitched the night before. Instead of doing that in the Angels dugout before simply one of 162 games on the ledger, Scoscia was at a somber press conference, explaining how proud he was of a young man who "grew as much as any person I've been around."

Adenhart was only 22. He had so much more time to grow.

It makes you wonder how other young ballplayers will cope with this, particularly A's starter Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, 21-year-old starting pitchers who broke into the majors this week.

While Adenhart's death is an obvious blow to the Angels emotionally, he was an emerging presence in a rotation that started the season without ailing pitchers John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar.

The A's will carry more somber overtones over to the next time they step on a field. They will honor the four slain Oakland police officers before Friday night's home opener against the Seattle Mariners.

No makeup date for Thursday night's game has been announced. The A's are scheduled to return to Anaheim for a three-game series in late August, preceded by an Aug. 27 open date on both teams' schedules. They meet again in Anaheim on Sept. 25-27, with both teams idle Sept. 24.

"As he demonstrated only last night, Nick was a very gifted pitcher with a promising future," A's president Mike Crowley said in a statement. "For that future to be cut short is not only a loss for the Angels but for all of Major League Baseball."

"Seeing Nick pitch last night, such a bright future, such a bright kid, we are going to deeply miss him," Angels general manager Tony Reagins said.

Bright future. Bright kid. Just like so many ballplayers who break into the big leagues. The ballplayers Adenhart shared a clubhouse with and the ones he faced in A's uniforms on Wednesday night now pause and mourn. As does all of baseball.

Link to coverage on Angels' Web site.