It has been a very rough year for those of us who spend most of our days and nights in the company of Angels.
It began with the Jan. 13, 2009 death of Preston Gomez, the game’s classiest ambassador. He was 86 and lived a full, rich life, but it cut to the core nonetheless. To know Preston was to love him — and respect his wisdom and insights.
Then came the unimaginable Nick Adenhart tragedy in the early hours of April 9. Nick was 22 with everything in front of him. This was one of those blows from which some people — myself included — never fully recover. Nick was a gem, pure and simple, and a light went out with his passing.
Now it’s Rory Markas, a sweetheart of a man, only 54 when he left us last night. We’ve known each other for years, going back to his days calling Clippers games. He enlightened and entertained from behind the mike and was a pleasure to be around on the road, smart and quick with a one-liner, as his good buddy and boothmate Terry Smith pointed out in a heartfelt conversation this morning.
Rory and Terry were a team within a team. The Sunshine Boys of Baseball. You could always count on both men for a kind word, a smile or a comforting shoulder if you were having a bad day. They don’t make them any better than Rory. Or Terry, for that matter.
Like so many SoCal kids, Rory grew up in the San Fernando Valley wanting to be a sportscaster. With their magic over the airwaves, Vin Scully and Chick Hearn and Dick Enberg did that to so many of us, by the hundreds. I veered off in another path, following the words of Jim Murray and Melvin Durslag into print, while Rory chased his dream and nailed it.
He was good at what he did, and he loved the life. He is gone much too soon, leaving yet another major gap in those lives he enriched.
Extensive research by Angels broadcasters Terry Smith and Jose Mota has uncovered this gem: Mike Scioscia is the first manager in history to send teams to postseason play six times in his first 10 years.
Even more remarkable, Scioscia has now done it six times in eight years, starting with the 2002 run to the World Series championship in his third year at the helm. He also delivered playoff teams in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and this season.
Scioscia also won two World Series as a catcher with the Dodgers, in 1981 and 1988.