Mel Antonen, the longtime baseball writer and MASN analyst, died at 64 on Sunday following battles with a rare acute autoimmune disease and leukemia, coupled with complications from COVID-19.
We are saddened by the passing of long time baseball reporter Mel Antonen, who was a fixture in the Nationals press box for many years.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/ZcQxwCdFDm
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) January 31, 2021
Born in 1956 in Lake Norden, South Dakota, Antonen wrote and reported on the baseball world for more than 35 years. His work was featured in various networks and outlets, including MASN, USA Today, SI.com, and MLB Network Radio. He joined USA Today in 1986 and covered some of the sport’s most historic moments, including Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games streak, the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run race and subsequent fallout, and the 1989 World Series earthquake. Later on, he joined MASN Mid-Atlantic Sports Report and worked as a radio analyst on Sirius-XM, amongst other things.
Rest in Peace, Mel. pic.twitter.com/B2js7aLZNE
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 31, 2021
In July 2020, Antonen detailed his battle after testing positive for COVID-19, saying at the time, “For me, I’m just glad I’m around to see.”
The Orioles are heartbroken by the passing of decorated Baltimore sportswriter Mel Antonen. pic.twitter.com/TLBGgDi3C1
— Baltimore Orioles ? (@Orioles) January 31, 2021
“I love baseball because it always brings me home,” Antonen said when he was inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. “A baseball park in my mind is a home. It doesn’t matter if it’s next to a cornfield, as it is in Lake Norden, or if it is next to a rumbling subway, in New York.”
Colleagues and fellow journalists took to social media upon hearing of Antonen’s passing to share their tributes and condolences.
Mel Antonen was a friend, fellow scribe, and really nice guy. He loved life, and made me laugh hysterically each year at Winter Meetings. We'd tell stories and he dumb jokes, the two of us, usually late in a near-empty workroom. He died from COVID & other illnesses. R.I.P., Mel. pic.twitter.com/ZK6V7lC0KD
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) January 31, 2021
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 31, 2021
Mel Antonen will be remembered by his colleagues and peers as someone who was unfailingly upbeat and kind. He always looked for the good in people and the bright side of the story. This business can be cynical at times, and he was a rarity in that respect. Rest in peace, friend. https://t.co/ofXk06la9f
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 31, 2021
Just learning that @MelAntonen — long-time baseball writer, and really good guy — has passed away after a long battle with an auto-immune disease and COVID. Condolences to Mel’s family and loved ones. Rest In Peace, Mel, as you settle in to Heaven’s press box.
— Claire Smith ⚾️ (@MzCSmith) January 31, 2021
Nothing is more difficult than saying goodbye to a close friend. Especially one you respected so much. Here is my piece on my buddy, sportswriter and baseball analyst, Mel Antonen, who passed away last night. It is unlocked for all to read. https://t.co/WTdMJuhxIY
— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) January 31, 2021
Nobody should have to endure a year like @MelAntonen just did. A mysterious illness that took forever to diagnose, a long bout of COVID-19, brief recovery, a return of the illness, then ultimately a lymphoma diagnosis. It was agonizing. And yet he never lost his optimism …
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) January 31, 2021
Losing friends is never easy, and I will miss my pal, Mel Antonen. I'm blessed for his presence in my life, his friendship and his counsel. Rest easy, my friend. We've got it from here. https://t.co/HhAIGvcNH7
— Pete Kerzel (@masnPete) January 31, 2021