On Our Shelves Now
Pedro Gomez of ESPN was a beloved figure in baseball. His death from sudden cardiac arrest on Feb. 7, 2021, unleashed an outpouring of heartfelt tributes. He was 58, both a hard-nosed reporter and a smiling ambassador of the sport. These 62 personal essays soar beyond sports to delve into life lessons. Pedro, a proud Cuban American, was known for his dramatic reporting from Havana. Fully and fluidly bilingual, he did as much as anyone to bridge the wide gap that had existed between U.S.-born players and the Latin Americans now so important to the game's vitality and future growth. He was also a family man who loved to talk about his three children, Sierra, Dante and Rio, a Boston Red Sox prospect. Pedro was universally known as a smiling presence who brought out the best in people. His humanity and generosity of spirit shaped countless lives, including one of his ESPN bosses, Rob King, who was so moved by Pedro's advice to him--"Remember who you are"--that he printed up the words and posted them on the wall of his office in Bristol. King is one of a diverse collection of contributors whose personal essays turn Pedro's shocking death into an occasion to reflect on the deeper truths of life we too often overlook. Part The Pride of Havana and part Tuesdays With Morrie, part The Tender Bar and part Ball Four, this is the rare essay collection that reads like a novel, full of achingly honest emotion and painful insights, a book about friendship, a book about standing for something, a book about joy and love. Former New York Times writer Jack Curry writes about Pedro's passion for live music, and former Sports Illustrated writer Tim Kurkjian brings alive spring-training basketball games with executives like Sandy Anderson and Billy Beane and Pedro right in the mix. Detroit manager AJ Hinch and formers Texas manager Ron Washington both reveal that in their darkest hours Pedro gave them some of the best advice of their lives. Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Tony La Russa, Peter Gammons, Ross Newhan, Tracy Ringolsby and Dan Shaughnessy are among the contributors. So are likely future Hall of Famers Max Scherzer and Dusty Baker. Pulitzer-Prize-winning Washington Post war correspondent Steve Fainaru, award-winning writers from Howard Bryant and Mike Barnicle to Tim Keown, Ken Rosenthal and Dave Sheinin also contribute. Rounding out the mix are current and former ESPN stars including Rachel Nichols, Shelley M. Smith, Peter Gammons, Bob Ley and Keith Olbermann. This is a book to rekindle in any lapsed fan a love of going to the ballpark, but it's also a wakeup call that transcends sports. To any journalist, worn down by the demands of a punishing job, to anyone anywhere, pummeled by pandemic times and the dark mood of the country in recent years, these essays will light a spark to seize every opportunity to make a difference, in your work and in the lives of people who matter to you.