Baseball reporter dies at 58

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers speaks with Pedro Gomez of ESPN on July 14, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Getty Images)
Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers speaks with Pedro Gomez of ESPN on July 14, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Getty Images)

ESPN SportsCenter reporter Pedro Gomez has unexpectedly passed away at 58 years old. He joined ESPN in 2003 after stints at several papers as a baseball writer.

The Gomez family said in a statement Sunday: “Pedro was far more than a media personality. He was a Dad, loving husband, loyal friend, coach, and mentor. He was our everything and his kids’ biggest believer. He died unexpectedly at home this afternoon.”

ESPN and Sports Content Chairman James Pitaro said: “We are shocked and saddened to learn that our friend and colleague Pedro Gomez has passed away. Pedro was an elite journalist at the highest level and his professional accomplishments are universally recognized. More importantly, Pedro was a kind, dear friend to us all. Our hearts are with Pedro’s family and all who love him at this extraordinarily difficult time.”

Mr Gomez came to ESPN from the Arizona Republic, a paper he joined in 1997. From 1990 to 1997, he wrote about the Oakland Athletics for the Sacramento Bee and San Jose Mercury News with a yearlong break at the Miami Herald, where he served as a national baseball writer. From 1988 to 1990, he wrote for the San Deigo Union and from 1985 to 1988 for the Miami News.

About his favourite event to cover for ESPN, Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, Mr Gomez once said: “After Steve Bartman’s attempt to catch the foul ball over Cubs left fielder Moises Alou, producer Jim Witalka and I were whisked from behind the Cubs dugout, where we were getting ready to do on-field interviews with the NL Champs for the first time since 1908, to the virtually the same spot behind the Marlins dugout, where we saw Josh Beckett racing back and forth from the clubhouse to the dugout while chugging beers and saying, ‘Rally Beers, Pedro.’ It was a memorable night at Chicago’s venerable Wrigley Field.”

Former ESPN anchor Bob Ley tweeted: “More than an elite journalist, Pedro Gomez was a good and decent man, so proud of his family, and his heritage. His loss is a hammer blow to all who knew this life force.”

Mr Gomez was the son of Cuban refugees and was born just 20 days after his parents arrived in the United States. In an interview with Jeff Pearlman in 2015, Mr Gomez said that a 1999 trip to Cuba was “incredibly emotional for me, I actually broke down inside my room at the old Havana Hilton thinking about how my family was basically forced to be displaced because of Fidel Castro’s communist government and the incredible hardships that presented my family”.

“I know they made the choice to leave because of the opportunities this country allows all of its people, something that seems lost these days. While there, I visited the neighbourhood where my father grew up and my parents wound up living before they came to the US in 1962. Amazingly, there were still people in the neighbourhood who remembered my family and could not believe I was the baby inside my pregnant mother when they left. It was an amazing experience,” Mr Gomez added in the interview.

ESPN Baseball Tonight host Karl Ravech tweeted: “A husband, father, friend and respected colleague. So, so sad. Pedro was able to laugh at himself and make others laugh. A storyteller whose friendship was a gift. A great teammate. Thoughts to his wife and children. Just awful news.”

ESPN play-by-play broadcaster Jason Benetti tweeted: “Pedro was a wonderful man who always had a smile and a thoughtful word for another human.”

ESPN Baseball columnist Jeff Passan tweeted: “He was the absolute best of us. This is so crushing. Anyone who knew Pedro loved him.”

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