Those around baseball are still reeling from the loss of longtime ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez, an industry icon and one of the most respected names in sports journalism. A consummate professional with over three decades of reporting experience, the universally beloved Gomez was also a pioneer, emerging as one of the most prominent Latin voices in sports media. During Tuesday’s Grapefruit League game in Fort Myers, the ESPN broadcast team of Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez and Tim Kurkjian caught up with Red Sox pitching prospect Rio Gomez, who reflected on his late father’s legacy in a touching in-game tribute.
“The connection and the love that we had that tied us together with baseball was second to none. He was my biggest fan, my biggest supporter,” said Gomez, who has been in the Red Sox’s organization since 2017. “There were many times where he was more excited about my career than I was.”
Gomez was floored by the outpouring of support he and his family received after his father passed at 58 last month. “I didn’t know how far his reach was,” Gomez admitted. “It was incredible to see the outreach and support and just all these people who had come forward and reached out to me, whether it be colleagues from ESPN, other reporters in the industry, athletes, coaches, umpires, fans, people all around the baseball world.”
Gomez’s accomplishments in the journalism field are well-documented, but what was he like as a parent? Rio would know that better than anyone. “He was a very in-the-moment guy. Growing up, we always had a rule at dinner, no phones at the table,” shared Gomez, who pitched to a respectable 2.20 ERA over 39 relief outings for Low-A Greenville and Advanced-A Salem in 2019. “He just wanted to always be connected. When we were together, we were truly together and able to have that face-to-face interaction. That’s just how he went about living his life. He was really good at making a personal connection and relationship with everyone that he came across.”
Not a particularly celebrated prospect coming out of the University of Arizona—he was the 1,091st player drafted in 2017—Rio has endured his share of professional struggles as a lefty specialist with middling velocity (his fastball tops out at 90 mph). But he could always count on his father’s support. “He’d always be good at being able to tell me what I needed to hear, regardless if it was good or bad,” said Gomez. “It just always seemed like he had the right thing to say. After getting to hear it for 26 years of my life, that’s always going to be embedded in me.”
Unsure if the skills he displayed in college would translate to the pros, Rio found himself at arguably the lowest point of his career in 2018. So naturally, Pedro surprised him at Red Sox camp. Rio said that gesture meant the world to him. “There was a time when I was in extended spring training in 2018 and I was having a tough time. I was really upset, where it felt like my career was slipping away and out of the blue, he just showed up in Fort Myers and surprised me and was there for a week. It was everything I needed, just to be able to turn everything around.”
As hard-working as he was kind, baseball on ESPN won’t be the same without Gomez, a veteran of 25 World Series and nearly as many MLB All-Star Games (22).