Former Cub Manager Gomez Critically Injured But Improving
Catching up on day-old news here, but former Cubs manager Preston Gomez was critically injured Wednesday morning when he was struck by a pickup truck in Blythe, California.
The 84-year-old Gomez, who has been a special assistant for the Angels for many years, was on his home from spring training at the time of the accident. Gomez stopped for gas and after refueling his car, "stepped out around the end of the gas pumps and into the path of a large pickup truck," according to the Blythe police.
Gomez suffered major head injuries and was airlifted to a hospital in Palm Springs, where he was placed in intensive care.
According to Angels exec Tim Mead, as reported by the L.A. Times on Thursday:
"The situation is much more encouraging than it was [Wednesday] morning. His vital signs are positive. He was squeezing his wife's hand."
Gomez is a beloved figure in the Angels organization and news of the accident reached the team before it took the field for Wednesday afternoon's game with the Cubs.
After the game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia had this to say:
"Preston means a lot to all of us here. As the day went on, we were getting better news. Hopefully he can keep improving, but it's definitely something that's weighed heavily on our minds today."
Gomez's tenure with the Cubs was brief and unsuccessful. With previous managerial experience at San Diego and Houston--and four last-place finishes in five seasons--he was hired by Cubs general manager Bob Kennedy following the '79 season. Gomez only lasted 90 games in the pilot's chair. The Cubs were a woeful 38-52 in 1980 when Gomez was canned and replaced by third-base coach Joey Amalfitano.
Gonfalon Cubs has quite a fine analysis of Gomez and the tragicomic goings-on of the 1980 team.
Regardless of his performance as a field general, Gomez is clearly a respected and well-liked figure in baseball circles--"one of the warmest and friendliest figures in the game," according to the Times--and it is good to hear encouraging news about his condition.