Dusty Baker admired late baseball reporter Pedro Gomez, who died suddenly before the Super Bowl at age 58.
Baker received a call during the game from another longtime baseball scribe, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, and later heard from others who were close to Gomez such as ESPN’s Howard Bryant.
All of them mourned the loss of Gomez, who became well known among baseball fans nationally for his work at ESPN.
“Pedro Gomez was one of the guys that you didn’t look at him as a member of the dark side of the press,” Baker said Saturday morning from the Astros’ spring training site in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“You looked at him as a guy that you could trust, a guy that was off work when he was off work and at work when he was at work. If you were in a bar somewhere having a drink with him, you could have a discussion with him without necessarily feeling guarded.”
Gomez had planned to help Baker’s son Darren write his senior thesis on race relations in sports.
It was yet another loss in a difficult offseason for Baker. His former teammate and close friend Hank Aaron died last month at the age of 86.
Baker said aside from his own father, Aaron had been the most influential person in his life.
“It gives you a greater appreciation of life,” Baker said Thursday. “Everyday is important. I wasn’t bothered by a lot of things in the past, but even less bothered now because a lot of this you realize is out of your control. It makes you more appreciative of family and friends and close ones.
“What it’s done is, I don’t postpone if I feel like I should call somebody. There were a couple of times during the winter when I’d say ‘I’ll call them tomorrow’ and then tomorrow I get the news that the person had passed, or is sick or something. So if I feel it, I do it. And that’s going to be my mantra for the year. If you feel it, then do it because you’re usually right.”