Wednesday, May 2, 2007

In Memoriam: Josh Hancock, 1978 - 2007

In the first hour of Sunday, April 29, Cardinals relief pitched Josh Hancock died in a car wreck. On a highway leaving downtown, a 28,000 pound flatbed tow tow truck was on the left shoulder, assisting a disabled vehicle. The shoulder was narrow and the truck extended into the traffic lane. Hancock's SUV hit the back of the tow truck. There was no indication that he braked. Hancock was killed instantly.

Later that day, Cardinal fans began to leave expressions of grief and sympathy at the gates of the stadium. Hancock had pitched the afternoon before his death, when the Cubs drubbed the Cardinals 8 to 1. News outlets began to report that Hancock had spent that evening at a steakhouse and bar near the stadium, drinking with friends. The restaurant manager offered to call a taxi, which Hancock declined. It was also reported that three days previously Hancock showed up late for a day game, hung over.

A daily photo blog has an open maw that requires constant feeding. My office is near the stadium so I went there at lunch time yesterday to photograph the scene. I had a cynical attitude: Hancock was probably drunk. On the day Princess Diana died I was in Toronto and remember the mountain of flowers at the gates of the British consulate. At Christmas after 9-11 I was in New York, my home town, walking by the fence of Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, densely woven with individual expressions of grief. At a glance, the balloons and signs at the stadium gate seemed tiny, a bit pathetic, in comparison. As I kept looking and shooting, looking and shooting, I realized that what I saw was just as heartfelt, as genuine an expression of painful emotion. On the walk back to my office, tears welled up in the corners of my eyes.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series


lv2scpbk said...

I will post the questions on my blog tomorrow under my photo of the day (Thurs.)Then you can copy and paste unto your blog. I will get to work on your questions.

Nice photo's today by the way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these photos. A true example of what City Daily Photo is all about. No where else but your city could you get such a picture in the same way.

Anonymous said...

Very nice photography.

Abraham Lincoln
Brookville Daily Photo

Anonymous said...

he is only a few years younger than is so unpredictable

Waldo Oiseau said...

These photos do show the heartfelt sympathies of fans.

In terms of what you wrote, I have to agree that reports seem to indicate he was intoxicated. I keep thinking about who else he may have severly injured or killed.

Bob Crowe said...

Cathy - I agree with you completely. Just this morning there were reports that a small can of marijuana was found in his vehicle. The autopsy results should be out Friday - then the public will know for sure. Last Wednesday night (the night before Hancock was late for a game due to a hangover), he was in a minor accident that could have been fatal. He was leaving a nightclub across the river in Illinois, edging his SUV into a traffic lane just as a big tractor trailer came by. It ripped off the front bumper of the SUV but no one was injured. This all seems to add up.

The more I learn, the less sympathy I have for Hancock and what seems like his horridly irresponsible behavior. Also, although the emotions of the fans who left things at the gate were genuine, I feel they were uninformed at best. There are signs there about Hancock leaving baseball heaven (the team's promo name for the new stadium) and going to the other one.

This also just reminded me of an incident several years ago when a Rams football player left a downtown nightclub in a huge Lincoln Navigator and smashed into a woman in a small car on Memorial Drive, the boulevard in front of the Arch. She died. It all makes me angry.