Los Angeles Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney urged those at a private memorial service to remember a gift fallen teammate Tyler Skaggs gave to them.
“Take a moment, close your eyes and think of a story or even an image that reminds you of all the good times you had with Ty,” Heaney said. “Take that memory and hold it in your hearts and in your minds. That is his lasting gift to everyone here.”
Skaggs’ teammates and family gathered Monday at a Catholic church in his native Santa Monica to remember Skaggs, who was found dead in his hotel room in Texas on July 1. He died shortly before his 28th birthday.
The mourners remembered Skaggs as a beloved son, husband, teammate and friend whose upbeat personality brought joy to everyone around him. The altar was flanked by two large red-and-white floral arrangements prominently featuring No. 45, Skaggs’ uniform number.
Hundreds of attendees laughed and cried at the eulogies from 14 speakers. Several family members related stories of Skaggs as a precocious, upbeat kid who just happened to grow into a world-class athlete.
“To Tyler’s parents and family, what an incredible job you did raising such a wonderful person,” said Padres pitcher Garrett Richards, a longtime teammate who was drafted by the Angels along with Skaggs in 2009. “Carli, your husband had a big smile, but an even bigger heart. He truly cared about people. I feel so honored to have known and spent as much time with him as I did. He impacted me in so many areas of my life. Rest in peace, Skaggy.”
The final speaker was Carli Skaggs, the pitcher’s wife, who made a last-minute decision to share poignant memories of her life since their marriage last winter.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to do it,” Carli Skaggs said. “Tyler gave me some strength.”
The current Angels and owner Arte Moreno were joined by former team members including longtime manager Mike Scioscia, Jered Weaver, Richards, David Freese and Matt Shoemaker. They were joined by Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Jack Flaherty of the St. Louis Cardinals and former major leaguer Trevor Plouffe, all Los Angeles-area natives and friends of Skaggs.
The Angels players and other members of the organization made the short trip from Anaheim in three buses. Skaggs grew up as a fan of the Angels instead of the closer Dodgers.
“He was a genuine and caring person,” Heaney said. “His friendship is something that I’ll always remember and cherish. He was the best friend anybody could ask for.”
The Angels all wore Skaggs’ No. 45 jersey in their first home game after his death on July 12, and pitchers Félix Peña and Taylor Cole stunningly combined to throw a no-hitter in a 13-0 win over the Seattle Mariners.
After the service, mourners were greeted by a catering truck from In-N-Out Burger, a Southern California institution and one of Skaggs’ favorite meals.
Earlier in the day, the Major League Baseball Players Trust made a $45,000 donation to the Tyler Skaggs Baseball Foundation, which supports youth sports, projects and family services.
Texas authorities aren’t expected to announce Skaggs’ cause of death until October, after laboratory testing is completed.
— Associated Press