NORFOLK (WAVY) – It’s hard to sum up the life of Dave Rosenfield in one or two words. Honored as “The King of Baseball” in 2004, Rosenfield served as general manager of the Norfolk Tides from 1963 to 2011.
The four-time International League Executive of the Year passed away late Tuesday night, and a number of sports figures in the area are remembering the man who will go down as one of the most influential sports figures in Hampton Roads history.
“It’s a sad day in Hampton Roads,” said Jack Ankerson, who worked alongside Rosenfield for decades and now serves as a public address announcer for Tides games, as well as Old Dominion football and basketball.
Rosenfield’s reputation and baseball resume is “unsurpassed,” says Ankerson. He helped the Tides win five league titles and was instrumental in the construction of Harbor Park in 1993.
He was a baseball mind, and a business man that did things his way, no questions asked.
“He had no filter,” said Ankerson. “He told you what he thought, and if you asked a question, you got an answer. You may not like it.”
Former Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim worked closely with Rosenfield during the planning and construction phase for Harbor Park, and says it wasn’t always pleasant dealing with Rosenfield.
“It was like negotiating with the Russians,” said Fraim. “Dave was like the Dancing Bear. You were going to dance as long as he wanted you to.”
The man with the distinguished gruff about him could certainly come across as harsh at times, but was also known to have a tremendous heart. “He could be difficult, intimidating and challenging,” said Pete Michaud, the play-by-play voice of the Tides and Norfolk Admirals.
“He could also be your best friend and your best supporter.”
At his very core, Rosenfield was a baseball mind and a baseball fan, who at times would exude child-like enthusiasm watching Tides baseball, even as one of the team’s broadcasters, well into his later years.
“He never thought of himself as bigger than the game, bigger than what was taking place out on the field,” said Michaud.
In the end, a “King” in every sense of the word, who gave every ounce of his being to sports in Hampton Roads, will be remembered for decades to come.