It has been one heck of a month for the LA Angels that started with the death of friend and teammate Tyler Skaggs. The Angels have honored him in the best way they could first by carrying Skaggs’ jersey with them everywhere they play. The emotional press conferences, and last but not least the pre-game ceremony and subsequent no-hitter.
On Monday Tyler Skaggs’ family hosted a celebration of life at St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Santa Monica, a church where Tyler Skaggs grew up in. Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson spoke about giving Tyler his first communion and other memories of him throughout his childhood.
The packed house of 900 plus people came to pay their respects to Tyler Skaggs. They shared many stories, read scriptures, sang songs, and laughed and cried their way through the 105 minute service to honor Tyler Wayne Skaggs.
Many of you probably were watching the tape-delayed broadcast on Fox Sports West like I was. I had my trusty box of Kleenex by my side throughout never knowing when my tear ducts would release a flood of water into my eyes. The service itself was very well-thought out by the Skaggs and Hetman families. The speakers shared many great stories that made you both laugh and cry, and sometimes do both at the same time. The recurring theme that everyone seemed to touch on when talking about Tyler was his love of life, his energy he exhibited, his infectious smile, and his love for all the people that surrounded him, his family, his teammates, and his friends.
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The only sadness I found was that Tyler Skaggs was taken from this world too soon, and the sadness of those who were left behind to grieve. I know that Tyler is in a better place, looking down on us and smiling with his huge grin that most everyone who spoke alluded to.
Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson did a great job presiding over the celebration and you could tell he knew Tyler better than just an acquaintance. Once they started with the tributes to Tyler multiple members of his family spoke, his cousins, aunts, and step-brother Garet Ramos. From there it was time for some of his teammates past and present as well as Tim Mead and Tyler’s wife Carli finished things out with some touching words about he late husband.
Long-time Angels Vice President of Communications Tim Mead, who now is the president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, jetted across the country late Sunday night after presiding over the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Mead as always had the perfect words to say talking about the way you live your life in the dash which is the period between the year you were born and the year you died.
Former Angel Garrett Richards spoke about one of his best friends Tyler Skaggs. (Richards and Skaggs were both drafted together in 2009 along with Mike Trout). What struck me was how much emotion and love that was pouring out of Richards as he spoke. When Richards described how Tyler Skaggs looked when he first met him it gave me a pause from my tears “Tyler was tall and skinny dressed with a pair of J’s and basketball shorts, a tank top with a pair of diamond earrings. He instantly stood out to me,” Richards said while fighting back tears.
The same can be said for Angel pitcher Andrew Heaney‘s heartfelt eulogy. Heaney talked about the pairs close relationship throughout their five years together on the Angels. Heaney also touched on he and his wife Jordan’s relationship with Tyler and his wife Carli. His story about him and Tyler singing an Elton John song entitled “Tiny Dancer” in a parking lot in Santa Monica had the audience in the church as well as me laughing so hard we could forget our sadness for a few moments. I can just envision Skaggs and Heaney doing this and people who were passing by probably thinking they were crazy. But as Heaney so perfectly said, “Tyler was never afraid to truly be himself.”
It was great to see how strong Heaney was throughout his eulogy and what struck me the most was his request for everyone to close their eyes and think of a memory or image of Tyler that reminds them of the good time they had with him. This was a fitting way to end his eulogy focusing on the happy times not the sad ones.
One of the impromptu comments that made everyone laugh came from one of Skaggs’ childhood friends Trevor Plouffe, who played for 10 years in the majors as a corner infielder. Plouffe was speaking about how great it was to see all the players to take time off to come out to the ceremony and also the members of the Santa Monica community, including a police officer friend named Josh who had flown in from texas to be there. Plouffe alluded to how Josh would keep him and Tyler safe when they would be out on Main Street (in Santa Monica) as Plouffe put it “When we were raising H-E-L-L,” and he immediately put his hand over is heart as to say I’m sorry for using that word in church. This drew a great laughter from the crowd and then Plouffe pointed his index finger up to heaven which caused even more laughter.
However, the lasting memory I will take with me was from the last speaker, Tyler’s wife Carli. She was not going to speak fearing it would be too hard for her. However, she changed her mind saying she was getting strength from Tyler. Her love and devotion to Skaggs was so evident, but what struck me the most was her poise throughout the eulogy and I truly believe Tyler was right there beside her supporting her throughout.
Tyler Wayne Skaggs may be gone from this Earth and we will never see his infectious smile again, or see him toe the Angel Stadum mound except in our memories, but the legacy he left behind will always be there to remind us of what a special person he was and inspire us to be better people than we already are.
Rest In Peace Tyler #45 will be in our hearts forever. #We’re Nasty.