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WICHITA, Kansas– The Wichita Wingnuts marked their opening game of the season with a moving tribute to Brian Rose, the bench coach who died in January of melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer that quickly spread through his body.
Rose’s wife stood with the players, while the team retired his jersey number three.
“It’s a very emotional moment, but a very proud moment,” said Lupe Ruiz Rose. ” I’m very proud to be his wife.”
“Well deserving,” said Kevin Hooper, manager of the Wingnuts. ” He’ll be the first number that’s been retired in our organization, and I couldn’t ask for a better guy to do it for.”
Rose’s cancer developed from a spot on his forehead that doctors initially thought was harmless.
“The summer of 2011, it kept growing and growing, and we all got concerned about it, ” said Hooper. “We’re like ‘you probably need to get that checked out.’ Then after that season, they found out there was some melanoma in there.”
Rose’s memorial service came one day after the death of Fred White, longtime announcer for the Kansas City Royals. He died from complications of melanoma, right after announcing his retirement.
Now, as both teams take the field again, they have a better understanding of the dangers of the sun.
“We make sure and tell the guys that you just never know,” said Hooper. “Might as well take care of your skin. You can still get a tan with sunscreen. It’s just going to help a little bit. He (Rose) was our sunscreen police, but we try to stay on top of it for the guys.”