Dave Rosenfield's life was as much a life in baseball as anyone's could be. From being the creative force behind generations of Carolina and International League schedules to his lengthy tenure as a team executive to an immortalized place at the intersection of the Minors and pop culture, Rosenfield was a Minor League luminary.
On Tuesday night, his baseball family said goodbye.
The longtime Norfolk Tides general manager passed away this week, the team announced late Tuesday. Rosenfield was 87.
"Our entire organization is devastated at this news," Tides president Ken Young said in a statement. "Dave was instrumental to the success of the Tides for over 50 years, and baseball in Hampton Roads won't ever be the same without him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dave's family as we mourn the passing of a Minor League Baseball icon."
After joining the Tides front office in 1962 -- already six years into his Minor League career -- Rosenfield took over as general manager a year later and served in that role until 2011. Under his direction, Norfolk moved from the Class A Carolina League to the Triple-A International League in 1969. Rosenfield carried the franchise through the openings of two ballparks -- Met Park in 1970 and the team's current Harbor Park in 1993 -- and was named executive vice president and senior advisor to the president six years ago after stepping down from the GM role.
"Rosey's passion for the game of baseball was unmatched, and that was obvious to anyone who was ever fortunate enough to cross paths with him," Tides general manager Joe Gregory said. "His knowledge, guidance and friendship was appreciated by so many people across the baseball industry, and he will be sorely missed."
Rosenfield's list of Minor League honors is lengthy. He was tabbed IL Executive of the Year four times, was honored as Minor League Baseball's "King of Baseball" in 2004, was a member of the International League and Hampton Roads Sports Halls of Fame and last year was inducted to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Rosenfield also has one of the most unique designations among any Minor League executive. In a legendary 1990 episode of The Simpsons, Homer gets a job as a Minor League mascot before being fired. The name of the GM who lets him go? Dave Rosenfield. That episode was penned by former Tides broadcaster Ken Levine and was one of the earliest in a collection of classic baseball-themed Simpsons installments.
"Every time that episode reruns, I get a phone call from somebody," Rosenfield told MiLB.com in 2011.
Baseball wasn't Rosenfield's only passion. He also served as general manager of the short-lived Continental Football League's Norfolk Neptunes in the late 1960s as well as interim general manager of the American Basketball Association's Virginia Squires in the early 1970s and the Tidewater Sharks hockey team in 1975.
Beyond his work in the Tides' front office, Rosenfield carved a unique role for himself beginning in 1963 when he took on the task of creating the Carolina League schedule. He continued that job with the International League through last year, long after many leagues had moved to computerized scheduling.
"I just turned 86 -- how much longer am I gonna be around?" he told MiLB.com's Benjamin Hill in 2015. "But I don't want this league to have a bad schedule. Would I like to stop? Some days I say, 'Yes.' It's like a giant puzzle. I spend so much time on it because I know how important it is."