On the passing of a great reporter and an even better person

Those of us who work in baseball in this area and region today are feeling such a loss. Our friend here at MASN and MASNsports.com, our treasured colleague, Mel Antonen, passed away last night.

Mel was 64 and battled a rare autoimmune disease and other health issues that made his battle against this disease one that was beyond challenging. That word just doesn't do it justice here. Baltimore-area media and friends of Mel would get updates over about the last year this was all going on. Mel would make amazing progress but there was often a setback around every corner. Then he would rally again, including even in recent days, when we heard encouraging news. I can't imagine what this man and his family have been going through for months and months.

Mel-Antonen-MASR-Sidebar.jpgMel had a remarkable career. One that began in his native South Dakota covering politics and agriculture beats, but that would lead him eventually to sports and covering baseball. He made a national name for himself with USA Today for 24 years and in recent years worked with us here, appearing on MASN's "Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" and writing on occasion for this website.

He was a valued teammate. He was a loyal and treasured friend.

I first met Mel probably somewhere around the late 1990s when I was on WBAL Radio and he would often appear as a guest on my show. He was someone who could talk about the Orioles as well as any local reporter, while at the same time able to address any national news or rumors. He covered the biggest games and names in the sport and reported on over 30 World Series.

In recent years, it was at the Winter Meetings when it hit home for me just how important Mel was in this sport. He knew everyone. Everyone. No one was too big to bypass Mel for either a quick hello or a one-on-one interview. Unlike some of us in this industry, who can name drop or sometimes pat ourselves on the back for a good interview, story or broadcasts, I never once heard Mel do so. There was no ego there and never any instances of his pointing out what he had done or who he personally knew. His contacts list must have been amazing. Make no mistake, when the baseball world gathered every December, Mel was as significant as any media guy or women there.

In the last few years, I got to work with Mel many times on the "Mid-Atlantic Sports Report." Here is what I most remember about working with Mel on that show - his complete unselfishness. He wanted me to shine and have a good show every bit as much as he wanted that for himself. We were a team and in it together. We could challenge and debate each other for the good of the show. It was just clear Mel wanted everyone there to do well and have a good experience. It was a wonderful attitude to have. But that was the real him.

In 2017, Mel was inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame. That had to be an incredibly proud moment for someone so loyal to his home state. I heard him talk about that night, well, never. That would be unlike Mel. He'd rather ask how you were doing or feeling than talk about something he did or achieved.

Mel wrote this personal account about his health battle in June.

Several months ago, when he was up to talking, I reached him on the phone. After he provided me an update we had a great chat about baseball. "We should do this again soon," he said. So we did over the next several weeks, a few wonderful conversations where I learned things about him I never knew. And learned only because I asked.

There may be a saying about no crying in baseball. We need that rule waived today.

Grenier staying on shortstop grid
A few questions for O's fans

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/