ARCATA (July 25, 2009) — Former Crab Jon Wilhite, who was severely injured in the April crash that killed Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others, showed the world just how far he has come in his recovery — by throwing out the first pitch before the A's/Angels game in Oakland on Saturday.
As Susan Slusser writes in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle, that Wilhite is even alive today is a miracle. In the crash, Wilhite's skull became detached from his spinal column, a condition only 5 percent of victims survive long enough to make it to a hospital.
But, thanks to a fighting spirit — and some help from a couple of friends on the A's — Wilhite was walking and talking two months after the crash.
"Being an athlete, you have to be pretty stubborn, and I try to get better every day," Wilhite told the Chronicle. "I use it as motivation when doctors say something I don't believe."
A's catcher Kurt Suzuki, who was a teammate of Wilhite's at Cal State Fullerton, rallied to his friend's aid. Enlisting the help of Orlando Cabrera and both of their wives, Suzuki has raised over $50,000 — including $18,000 at Saturday's game — to help pay for Wilhite's rehabilitation costs. Fittingly, Suzuki was the catcher for Wilhite's pitch.
Wilhite played catcher for the Crabs in 2004 after his redshirt year at Cal State Fullerton. Video of Wilhite throwing out the first pitch can be seen here.