On the passing of Pedro Gomez

Pedro Gomez: Always positive.

The Super Bowl was over, and I was scrolling through Twitter this and Twitter that—when everything stopped.

Pedro Gomez, ESPN’s excellent reporter, had died at age 58.

I am devastated.

In this itinerant business of reporting, where you’re in Cleveland one day, Detroit the next, San Diego the one after that, life can often feel like an eternal return to summer camp. You enter a press box, and there’s ol’ Joe. You walk through a tunnel and, “Hey, Sally—how have you been?” You arrange meet-ups outside a locker room; dinners at the nearby Cheesecake Factory. You compare hotel rates, rental car checkout speed. You debate frequent flyer programs and fast food quality and which laptop works best.

In other words, you bond, because the people typing to your left and right know exactly what you’re going through. They get the irritation over being blown off for an interview. They grasp what it is to have a local TV reporter swoop in and ruin your one on one chat.

In the summer of 2005, the person I felt a kinship with with Pedro.

He was a relatively new ESPN reporter, charged with the absolute worst assignment of all time: Covering the day-to-day existence of Barry Bonds, San Francisco’s notoriously ornery (and juiced) slugger. It was, truly, the gig from hell: Bonds hated the media, treated the media like shit, scorned the media, went out of his way to make the lives of media members worse. Craps, as a guy working on my second book, “Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero,” I knew it all too well.

Bonds was unforgiving and brutal.

But here’s the crazy part: Despite every one of his peers expressing their sympathies, Pedro retained an indefatigable positivity. He knew the job was thankless and uncomfortable, but he never shied away, never backed down, never seemed bitter or upset. Here, this is from a 2015 interview Pedro did for my Q&A series, The Quaz

In short, he was a pro’s pro.

In the hours since the awful news broke, one journalist after another has chimed in on Pedro. And what I love—truly love—is that very little of the sentiment is about his work. Nope, what people seem to remember most is his kindness, his empathy, his warmth, his compassion. Long after our Bonds experiences ended, Pedro and I retained a friendship. It turns out he retained tons of friendships with tons of journalists. He was that type of guy.

RIP to a tremendous reporter, and a better person.

PS: This thread for Howard Bryant says it all …