Adam Keenan was all set for his first practice of the summer baseball season with the Seacoast Mavericks of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
He had just wrapped up his first season at Massachusetts-Lowell after transferring from Franklin Pierce, and the chance to continue playing the game he loved over the summer was something he was thrilled about doing.
But during the first practice of the season, the night of June 6, 2011, Keenan collapsed on the field, went into cardiac arrest and passed away. It was known that Keenan had a heart problem, and doctors kept a close eye on his health. He had been cleared for athletic competition, which made the untimely death all the more surprising.
Lowell teammate Mike Sloban was on his way home from the airport when he learned that one of his closest friends had passed away.
“I got a text from one of my friends that Adam had passed away,” said Sloban, a redshirt junior pitcher for the Riverhawks. “I wasn’t sure how to react. I was in complete shock. I had never had someone I knew that was close to my age die. I couldn’t believe he was gone. Even now it still seems so surreal that he is gone.”
Lowell baseball coach Ken Harring was at the hospital when Keenan died and the memories of that night are still so vivid in his memory. It tore him up inside to see Adam’s parents, Michael and Audrey, deal with the death of their only son.
“I am an emotional guy,” Harring said. “It was extremely difficult to handle the news of Adam’s death. I can’t even begin to imagine what his family was going through. I walked out of that hospital with tears in my eyes.”
Although Keenan passed away, the team did not want to let his memory die. Earlier this fall, it got involved in the Boston Heart Walk, an event hosted by the American Heart Association, walking as members of Adam’s Team.
Family members, including his parents and older sister, Christine, walked as well, along with athletes from other teams at Lowell. The team for Adam was the largest among the group of walkers as 57 people walked in his honor on that September day.
All of them wore t-shirts that had Adam’s Team stretched across the front in big red letters. The phrase ‘Protect This Heart’ was underneath the name of the team. The design won the award for best shirt at the Heart Walk.
“It was a great thing for us to take part in that event,” Sloban said. “It was a way for us to show support for Adam’s family and do something for a good cause while keeping Adam in our memory. The fact that other athletes and people on campus came out for the walk shows you just how much of an impact Adam had on the lives of others. He was very well-liked. I was fortunate that I was able to have him in my life.”
|Adam’s Team Heart Walk Stats|
|• Team Recruitment Goal: 10|
|• Total Team Members: 57|
|• Team Fundraising Goal: $200.00|
|• Total Raised: $4,470.00|
|Visit Adam’s Team Page|
Keenan played his high school baseball at Lowell High before taking his talents to Franklin Pierce. He played in four games before transferring to Lowell.
This past season, Keenan played in 13 games and started eight. He tallied six hits and scored one run. He also drove in four runs.
Despite not seeing a lot of playing time, Keenan never complained and was a model teammate.
“He was never in a bad mood,” said Harring, who actually tried to recruit Keenan out of high school. “He was quiet but had a great personality. No one disliked him. He worked hard and was very competitive.”
Sloban said the attitude Keenan brought to the field every single day is what impressed him the most.
“He had so much passion for the game of baseball,” Sloban said. “He didn’t get to play a lot, but that didn’t matter to him. He worked just as hard as the rest of us on the team. The thing is, even though he was only with us for a year, he was treated like he had been there his entire career.”
No one on the Lowell baseball team will forget Keenan. Harring intends to always be there for the Keenan family and the team plans to keep Keenan in its memories.
“It was great to show support for him with the Heart Walk, and we will continue to be there for Adam’s family,” Harring said. “He was a great person and what his family has gone through is not an easy thing to deal with. We will always be there for them.”
It has been more than four months since Keenan passed away, and yet, Sloban still finds it hard to believe that one of his best friends is no longer with him.
He said the tragic death of his teammate and friend is a reminder of how important it is to cherish each day.
“You never know when your time is going to be up,” Sloban said. “Adam loved life and he made the most of his time. We all need to live that way. I know I will and I will always keep him in my memory.”