It was a somber return for the Los Angeles Angels following the All-Star break. The loss of pitcher Tyler Skaggs weighed heavy over the team as they prepared to honor him in their first home game since his shocking death. The entire team made the most of it, wearing his number 45 and scoring 13 runs on their way to an unbelievable no-hitter.
Family of #TylerSkaggs is here and understandably very emotional. Warm embraces with the @Angels players. We’re told Skaggs’ mother will be throwing out the first pitch tonight in her son’s memory. @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/FrVDKp4EPY— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) July 13, 2019
But the tone for the game was set from the very start with Skaggs' mother, Debbie, taking her son's spot on the mound to throw out the first pitch. She was flanked by her son's widow Carli, his stepbrother and stepfather.
When given the opportunity, Skagg's mom threw a perfect strike and earned a loving hug in the process.
Debbie Skaggs, the mother of Tyler Skaggs, threw out the first pitch.pic.twitter.com/c3sYLGbsZj— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) July 13, 2019
Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, shocking his teammates and MLB fans nationwide. The team was set to take on the Texas Rangers at the time, but the game was postponed after the news broke. Police noted at the time that they didn't believe the death to be suicide or foul play.
Skaggs was honored at the All-Star Game in Cleveland earlier in the week, earning a moment of silence at the start of the ball game. The pitcher got a similar moment at the start of the Angels first home game on Friday night, with the team wearing his number and giving a 45-second moment of silence.
“He was in the prime of his life and the prime of his career — it’s very tough,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus told MLB according to WPSD NBC 6. “I walked into the ballpark today and saw the flowers and signs out front and that was special. I went for a run on the field and saw Tyler’s picture on the board. It brings back some emotion.”
The team will sport "45" patches in honor of Skaggs for the rest of the season, with his locker kept intact at their home field and a locker left for him on the road.
Skaggs' demise hasn't come without controversy. There has been aborted reporting and calls for his cause of death to be released, with names like legendary anchor Dan Rather saying the public has a right to know.0comments
His family has asked for privacy, with the Angels organization and authorities keeping mum on the details while respecting their wishes. The medical examiner doing Skaggs' autopsy also claimed that the family asked that no details be released until the final examination is complete.
A California paper was forced to retract an article claiming Skaggs passed due to an opioid overdose after legal threats and physical threats to reporters. The news has divided fans online, with some noting that voices like Rather are correct and others sticking firmly to respecting the family's requests for privacy.