Pedro Gomez, a Pillar of Baseball Coverage for ESPN reporter, Dies at 58

Pedro Gomez, a Pillar of Baseball Coverage for ESPN reporter, Dies at 58

Pedro Gomez, a mainstay of ESPN’s coverage of Major League Baseball for much of the past two decades who went from the newspaper sports section to millions of television screens, died at his home in Phoenix on Sunday, ESPN and his family said. He was 58.

A renowned baseball reporter and familiar face on ESPN's platforms for nearly two decades, Gomez covered more than 25 World Series over the course of his career and was widely respected throughout the sport.

"Pedro was far more than a media personality," the Gomez family said in a statement provided by ESPN. "He was a Dad, loving husband, loyal friend, coach and mentor. He was our everything and his kids’ biggest believer."

No cause of death was given by the network, which announced Mr. Gomez’s death late on Sunday night.

“We are shocked and saddened to learn that our friend and colleague Pedro Gomez has passed away,” James Pitaro, the chairman of ESPN and Sports Content, said in a statement. “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.”

Gomez's family said he died unexpectedly at their home Sunday afternoon. The cause of death was not immediately provided.

ESPN chairman James Pitaro said in a statement that the company was "shocked and saddened" by the news. 

Tributes to Mr. Gomez, a son of Cuban refugees, poured in from across journalism and professional sports, including from several baseball franchises. Mr. Gomez’s son Rio Gomez plays for the Salem Red Sox, a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

“Devastating news about Pedro Gomez,” Jeremy Schaap, the veteran sports reporter and an ESPN colleague, said on Twitter. “Such a lovely, kindhearted, talented human being. So proud of his family.”

The son of Cuban refugees, Gomez grew up in Miami and majored in journalism at the University of Miami. He got his start as a baseball reporter in newspapers, including stints at the Miami News, San Diego Union, San Jose Mercury News, Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee.

In 1997, Gomez became a sports columnist and national baseball writer at The Arizona Republic, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. He moved to ESPN in 2003.

Jason La Canfora, who covers the National Football League for CBS Sports, said on Twitter that he looked up to Mr. Gomez.

“I was blessed to meet Pedro Gomez as a cub reporter in college, and further blessed to be able to call him a friend,” Mr. La Canfora wrote. “He represented the best of us, as journalists and human beings.”

Gomez was a versatile reporter for the network, often appearing as a correspondent on SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight, among other studio shows. He covered everything from Barry Bonds' alleged steroid use to MLB's return to Cuba in 2016 – the latter of which was also a deeply meaningful experience for Gomez, personally.

Gomez said on air that he brought the ashes of his late father and brother with him to Cuba, so he could sprinkle them there in accordance with their wishes.

"It was very emotional for me, because I know that it was their wishes to have them done," Gomez told host Scott Van Pelt through tears. "I was very, very honored and happy and proud to be able to fulfill a wish that each of them had."

News of Gomez's death sparked a wave of tributes on social media, from colleagues and MLB players alike.

ESPN radio host and reporter Jorge Sedano wrote on Twitter that Gomez "opened the door for Latinos in sports tv." Former SportsCenter anchor Jemele Hill called him "one of the nicest and warmest people I ever encountered during my time at ESPN."

Mr. Gomez also chronicled some of the more sordid episodes of the national pastime. In 2007, there was Barry Bonds surpassing Hank Aaron’s home run record under a cloud of suspicion over steroid use. There was also the case of the Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman deflecting a foul ball during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, which the then-Florida Marlins went on to win.

Mr. Gomez joined ESPN in April 2003 after spending 18 years as a baseball beat writer and columnist, including for The Miami Herald in his native South Florida, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee and Arizona Republic.

During his career, he covered 25 World Series and 22 All-Star Games, according to an ESPN biography, which said he attended the University of Miami and majored in journalism.

"More than an elite journalist, Pedro Gomez was a good and decent man, so proud of his family, and his heritage," former ESPN anchor Bob Ley wrote in another tweet. "His loss is a hammer blow to all who knew this life force. Send one up tonight for his family and friends."

Longtime Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, ex-Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis and Chicago Cubs manager David Ross were among the current and former players who posted their own tributes on social media Sunday night. 

"Heartbreaking news," 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich added. "Always enjoyed the conversations every time he’d come through the clubhouse. He’ll be missed by all. Prayers with his family."

Mr. Gomez was a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and a voting member for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In addition to his son Rio, he is survived by his wife, Sandra Gomez; another son, Dante; and a daughter, Sierra.