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Ross Newhan remembers Mike Penner

November 29, 2009 | 11:32 am

A few weeks after losing my friend, my family's friend and my  former sports-writing colleague Earl Gustkey, I am trying to cope this morning with the loss of my friend, my family's friend and my former baseball-writing colleague and traveling companion Mike Penner.

I am not smart enough, and I don't have the insight, to understand the torment that drove him to an apparent suicide. Instead, I will remember the fun we had on the Angels beat in the '80s, and I will remember the talent that flowered on every assignment he was given.

Mike combined the best of the best: humor, wit, cynicism and objectivity. His reflective story on the historic Game 5 of the 1986 playoff between the Angels and Red Sox (the Donnie Moore/Dave Henderson game) was one of the best baseball stories I have read in nearly 50 years of covering baseball, and I included a large part of it, citing Mike's authorship, in my 2000 book on the Angels.

I smile in remembering his wonderfully funny piece in trying to explain the compound semantics of former Angels general manager Mike Port (Mike coined it Port-uguese), and as Keith Thursby cites in his obituary and as Mark Whicker of the Register cites in a blog today, the examples of Mike's wit and talent are endless. I can only hope he has found the peace that apparently eluded him in life. And I will find solace in the laughs we shared while wondering what in the world we were doing in hotel rooms in Cleveland and Detroit -- as well as the the legacy he left.

-- Ross Newhan