Ray O’Canto, former Fresno State baseball radio commentator and local media personality, died this past Saturday at the age of 60, according to numerous media reports.
He battled cancer for the last few months, spending his final weeks in hospice care.
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A former collegiate baseball player at College of the Sequoias and Fresno State, O’Canto teamed with Paul Loeffler for many years calling Diamond Dog games on the radio, including the 2008 NCAA championship season.
“Get dirty!” O’Canto exuberantly yelled after the final out in Omaha, as partner Loeffler described the action.
Loeffler Lovingly Describes His Partner
“Joy. That’s the word. I think joy was our friend Ray O’Canto’s most significant gift to the world. His talents were plentiful and diverse,” Loeffler wrote in tribute on Instagram.
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Joy. That’s the word. I think joy was our friend Ray O’Canto’s most significant gift to the world. His talents were plentiful and diverse. He was as comfortable discussing a deep flavor profile on TV as he was breaking down a deep home run on radio. Coaching his daughter in basketball was as fulfilling as flying halfway around the world to cover the Olympics. No matter the setting, no matter the situation, the common denominator when Ray was around was always joy. Anyone who ever met RayO will remember his infectious enthusiasm, his affirming and encouraging persona, and his knack for making others feel valuable and important. Even in hospice care, that signature trait remained. I’ll always remember Omaha, and the unbridled exuberance unleashed when his Bulldogs won it all. But today, my mind has been swimming in so many other moments, so many spots on the map where Ray delivered joy to people and places he’d never encountered before. As we mourn this great loss and pray God’s peace and comfort over his beautiful family, may we also resolve to find our own ways to follow his unique example, and inject a little joy wherever our paths take us.
‘I Love This Community’
A few weeks ago, GV Wire Publisher Darius Assemi visited with O’Canto, who recorded one of his final messages to his friends and family.
“I just want to tell you how overwhelmed I am by the amount of support I’ve received from my friends, who have just rallied around me,” he said.
He added, “Who knows what our last breath will be? Only God knows that.”
A GoFundMe account has been established for O’Canto and his family.
“I love this community, I love what it means to me,” O’Canto said. “I’ll always try to uplift it in any way I can.”