Longtime Orioles traveling secretary Phil Itzoe passed away earlier today after a long illness. He was 72.
Itzoe spent 45 seasons with the Orioles, including 41 coordinating the team's travel plans, the longest tenure of any traveling secretary in any of the four major sports.
During his final season in 2008, Itzoe received the Herb Armstrong Award and a spot in the Orioles' Hall of Fame for non-uniformed personnel who made a significant contribution to the organization.
Itzoe was born in York, Pa. and grew up in nearby New Freedom, Pa., where he'll be buried. I doubt that many of you had the chance to meet him, but he was one of the sweetest men who ever lived. He also was old-school to the bone, using a typewriter until his last day on the job and never opening an e-mail account. Faxes were good enough for him.
He was extremely close to Cal Ripken Sr. and Elrod Hendricks, and it's so sad that the Orioles have lost another member of their family.
Please include his family - wife TyLisa, children MariaLisa and Josh, daughter-in-law Jessica, and grandchildren Caleb and Lydia - in your prayers tonight.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.
"It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of Phil Itzoe," Orioles principal owner Peter Angelos said in a statement. "Phil served the Orioles with excellence and loyalty for over four decades and was respected not just by his coworkers, but also by those throughout the sports industry for his integrity and dedication. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, TyLisa, and the rest of his family."
Itzoe suffered a stroke in Oct. 2008 while recovering from a medical procedure. He attended Opening Day with his son, Josh, and made about 15 games.
"He was one of finest men I have ever known, and I think a lot of people inside and outside the organization would say that about him," Josh said.
"Dad loved the Orioles so much. He was an extremely talented guy. He had an incredible work ethic. And the way he treated people...even to this day, people come up to me and say, 'Your dad is the most phenomenal guy I've ever met.' He always had an others-first mentality. He was humble, modest. The first thing he always said, his first mindset, he'd say, 'How can I help you?'
"The Orioles were such a huge part of his life. I'm sure he could have done a lot of different things, but he just loved what he did, loved being the traveling secretary, loved taking care of the guys, loved being part of the organization. He stayed in that positon for 41 years, and he did it because he loved it.
"I just hope I'm mentioned in the same breath as him."