Wichita Wingnuts' bench coach Brian Rose died early Thursday morning at the age of 34, following a three-year battle with stage 4 melanoma.
"It is with a very heavy heart that we have to say goodbye to one of our own," said Wingnuts' General Manager Josh Robertson. "Brian Rose inspired so many people with the way he handled this disease, and I hope that anyone who had the chance to meet him looks at life in a much different way. He fought this battle to the very end with such a positive attitude, and it is a shame that his life was taken from us so early. He will be greatly missed, but our memories of him will live on."
During Rose's three seasons as bench coach (2010-12), the team was a composite 164-132 (.554), captured two Central Division titles, and reached the 2012 American Association Championship Series. In addition to his on-field duties, Rose was heavily involved in off-season recruiting and player procurement. Prior to his arrival in Wichita, Rose worked in the same capacity for the Grand Prairie AirHogs from 2008-09.
"We lost a great one today," said Wingnuts' manager Kevin Hooper. "Brian Rose was one of the strongest individuals I will ever know. He was my right-hand man, a great friend, coach, husband, family man, teammate, and someone that fought to the very end."
The Wingnuts plan on dedicating the 2013 season to their bench coach. Rose's jersey number "3" will be retired at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium prior to Wichita's season opener on May 16th. It will be the first number retired in the team's six-year history. Commemorative uniform patches honoring Rose will be worn by Wingnuts players and coaches throughout the year. Other events are being planned and will be announced at a later date.
Although his battle intensified last summer, Rose maintained a positive spirit every night that inspired players in both dugouts. In late-July, Rose returned home to Austin, TX to undergo further treatment. Initially expected to miss the rest of the season, Rose once again inspired the team with a surprise visit at Laredo for the Division Series, and was able to remain with them through the end of the playoffs.
Throughout his fight, Rose was actively involved in helping others cope with melanoma. He contributed his time and experiences to various charitable organizations that raised awareness of the disease and promoted measures to prevent it. Rose embodied the phrase "fight like hell" which became a rally cry not only for the Wingnuts, but for fellow cancer patients as well.
Rose is survived by his wife Lupe. The couple married in April of 2012.