MESA, Ariz. — The sudden deaths in the last 48 hours of two ballpark regulars close to many Cubs players and staff have sent shock waves through the clubhouse and team offices.
Before taking media questions Saturday morning, Cubs manager Joe Maddon addressed the deaths of the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, one of the most widely respected baseball writers in the country, and comedian Brody Stevens, a childhood friend of Cubs coach Mike Borzello who attended Cubs camp annually and often showed up at Wrigley Field.
Both had planned to be at Cubs camp next week.
“I really want to extend my sympathies to Nick Cafardo’s family,” Maddon said. “I did know Nick pretty well when I was working over in the AL East. Great guy. Was very kind to me always. I know his reputation is stellar. He’s going to be missed.”
Cafardo, 62, collapsed Thursday outside the Red Sox’ clubhouse in Fort Myers, Florida, the victim of an apparent embolism, according to reports.
Stevens, 48, had long been an advocate for awareness of depression and the stigma often associated with it and was open about his own battle with depression. He reportedly took his own life Friday at his home in Los Angeles.
A former pitcher at Arizona State University, Brody had close friendships throughout baseball, largely through his relationship with Borzello. The acclaimed comedian also appeared in television and movies, including the Hangover series, developing close friendships throughout Hollywood.
Cubs media relations director Peter Chase, one of those close friends, called Maddon on Friday afternoon when he got the news — long after Cubs personnel had left the training facility.
“That one’s really difficult to wrap our minds around,” Maddon said. “We were looking forward to him coming out here next week. He’s always been a fixture during spring training.
“Everybody talks about how fun he was, but … just a nice, nice man. Great heart, kind heart. I’m really going to miss the conversations.
“We really want to extend our sympathies to his family as well.”
The Cubs included a note of condolences for both men in the media game notes for Saturday’s spring home opener.
Both received a widespread outpouring of sympathy and grief on social media from those in baseball, and in Stevens’ case the Hollywood and comedy communities as well, including Bob Saget, Sarah Silverman and many others.