Rio Gomez might have given up baseball had it not been for his father, Pedro, the beloved ESPN baseball reporter who died last month.
“There [were] times I didn’t even believe in myself during my career and he was there to push me with that belief,” Rio, a minor league pitcher in the Red Sox organization, said Tuesday as he joined the ESPN broadcast booth virtually for the Red Sox-Rays spring training game in Fort Myers, Fla.
“The connection and the love that we had that tied us together with baseball was second to none,” the 26-year-old Gomez said.
Pedro Gomez died suddenly at the age of 58. No cause of death was given.
The son of Cuban exiles, Gomez grew up in Miami and transitioned from the sports section to TV in 2003, becoming a staple of ESPN’s baseball coverage.
Gomez covered 25 World Series and 22 All-Star Games, and was heralded by his peers for providing in-depth coverage of Barry Bonds’ steroid-scarred chase for the all-time home-run record in 2007.
When he wasn’t on the air, Gomez often spoke with his son about his burgeoning playing career.
Rio pitched for top college baseball program Arizona and was selected in the 36th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. In 2019, he was 3-2 with a 2.20 ERA in 69.2 innings at low-A and high-A.
“There was many times he was more excited about my own career than I was. It was always great having him by my side like that,” Rio said.