Do you have a friend you can go a few weeks without seeing, but when you cross paths again, the conversation picks up right where it left off?
For a lot of us who cover baseball, that was Pedro Gomez of ESPN.
Gomez, who died unexpectedly Sunday at the age of 58, could walk into any clubhouse or press box in the major leagues and instantly reconnect with players, coaches, and reporters, and have you laughing in a few seconds.
In what is a competitive environment for everybody, Pedro always made you feel like he was on your side. He was on everybody else’s side, too. But that was fine.
It explained why the news of his death resonated as far and wide as it did in the baseball community. Major League Baseball and the Players Association expressed their condolences via social media, as did several teams, including the Red Sox.
Alex Bregman, Brandon Crawford, Ozzie Guillén, Kiké Hernández, Andrew McCutchen, Dave Martinez, David Ross, Dontrelle Willis, and Christian Yelich were among the players and managers who did the same.
“Pedro was a happy, genuine humble man,” wrote Alex Cora, who on Sunday night called Yankees manager Aaron Boone to give him the sad news. “Loved his family, was a good friend, a great man.”
Pedro’s colleagues at ESPN and other outlets shared stories about his kindness. Howard Bryant, the former Boston Herald columnist now with ESPN, recounted when Pedro stood up for him early in his career when Tony La Russa criticized him for somebody else’s mistake.
1) For the 2nd time in three weeks, I'm breaking Twitter hiatus to tell a story of a great person we've lost. ESPN's Pedro Gomez: Sept. 18, 1993, I covered high schools for the Oakland Tribune, but the paper gave @JHickey3 a few days off, and sent 24-yo me to cover A's-CHW.— Full Dissident (@hbryant42) February 8, 2021
Many stories centered on how Pedro had introduced them to somebody important, shared a phone number they couldn’t track down, or passed along a tip about a story they might want to check out.
Those small acts of kindness meant so much to the recipients because the person they came from made a difference. Pedro had a national profile with ESPN, covering baseball and the NFL after a long career as a writer.
You probably knew his work, and that he wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions or call out phonies. But he always made time for people in the media who were trying to follow the same path.
Rio Gomez, one of Pedro’s three children, was drafted by the Red Sox in 2017 and showed he was a prospect, making his way to High A Salem in 2019 and getting called up to pitch for the major league team in spring training several times last year.
My job was to text Pedro if his son was added to the roster on a particular day so he could find a way to watch, listen, or follow along to the game. That is when he wasn’t nervously pacing.
Rio worked out of a jam in a game against the Rays in March, and Pedro immediately called and asked for details. Like so many other minor leaguers, Rio didn’t have a season in 2020, but he was working on his own to improve.
Every time Pedro covered a Sox game, our running joke was that parents weren’t allowed in the clubhouse and he’d have to wait outside. Then he’d pull out his phone and show me what his other children, Dante and Sierra, were doing, or a recent trip he had taken with his wife, Sandi.
I last saw Pedro in October at the National League Championship Series in San Diego. Reporters weren’t allowed in the press box for social distancing purposes, so we sat at a long table out in right field with Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Scott Miller, then of Bleacher Report.
It was fun catching up with those guys during the series and we decided to take a photo together before one of the games. We lined up in a sunny spot to pose and, by accident, there was an extra space in the photo between Scott and me.
We decided after looking at the photo that the spot was there for our mutual and much-loved friend Nick Cafardo, the Globe baseball writer who died in 2019.
Now there’s another empty feeling for somebody gone far too soon.