Tyler Skaggs, the Angels pitcher who died Monday at age 27, was a southern Californian through and through. Born in Woodland Hills and raised in Santa Monica, he became a fan of the Angels rather than the closer Dodgers, and his favorite team drafted him out of high school.
Well, his favorite baseball team, that is.
The Vikings included with their tweet a photo of Skaggs, wearing his red Angels gear, standing with his arms around Jayron Kearse and Holton Hill. Also pictured were Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes, Eric Kendricks, Everson Griffen, Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith, with all the Vikings players in white Twins jerseys.
That photo was taken May 14, when the Angels lost to the Twins 4-3. It was SKOL Night at Target Field, and the Vikings had 10 players take batting practice before the game.
Skaggs — who beat the Twins the night before, Los Angeles' only victory over the Twins in six meetings this season — also met with Kirk Cousins that day, and the Vikings quarterback tweeted a picture of them talking, adding his condolences. Kyle Rudolph also offered his prayers for Skaggs' family and friends.
Skaggs was born in July 1991, and he was only 3 years old when the Raiders and Rams left Los Angeles in 1995. So how did he end up becoming a Vikings fan? Like so many others, it was because of a certain No. 84. Skaggs wrote repeatedly on social media about his adoration of Randy Moss, saying the Hall of Fame receiver as his favorite player.
“I grew up being a big fan of Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper," he told Vikings.com in May. "I loved the Vikings … it was like a weird trend. I watch every Sunday and go to this hometown bar.
“I’m happy we got Kirk Cousins, and I’m happy about our draft picks. Smith is a Pro Bowler. [Kyle] Rudolph, of course … and [Stefon] Diggs and [Adam] Thielen are really coming into their own. And Griffen is a lot bigger than he looks on TV.”
Skaggs also told the Vikings' website that he tried to watch the team in person whenever he could. That included a trip to Philadelphia in January 2018 to watch the team's most recent playoff game, the NFC Championship Game loss to the Eagles.
The lefthander went to the game with Los Angeles teammate Mike Trout, the two-time AL MVP and mega-Eagles fan. Trout and Skaggs were both first-round draft picks in 2009, and the two roomed together in the minor leagues.
The Vikings, of course, weren't alone sharing their sympathy following Skaggs' death Monday. Nearly every MLB team did, too, including the Twins. The Twins were especially appreciative of the fact that Scaggs was part of a group of Angels and Twins players who appeared at children's hospitals in both the Twin Cities and Orange County when the teams played back-to-back weeks in May.
The teams visited Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul on May 14 and Children's Hospital of Orange County in Orange, Calif., on May 22. The makeup of the two groups largely varied, but Skaggs was part of both.
Skaggs was found unresponsive Monday afternoon in his hotel room in Texas, where the Angels were to open a series with the Rangers. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said they were investigating and that foul play and suicide were not suspected.