Luis Gonzalez will play a special role at the memorial service for the late U.S. Senator John McCain.
The 50-year-old Cuban-American former Major League Baseball outfielder, an Arizona sports legend, will serve a pallbearer at Thursday’s service.
Gonzalez, who spent his best years with the Arizona Diamondbacks and was one of the most popular players in the organization’s history, released a statement after the death of McCain, praising the senator’s patriotism and friendship.
“Senator McCain was not only a great man and patriot but also a loyal D-backs fan. I’m proud to have called him a dear friend. On behalf of my entire family, our thoughts and prayers are with Cindy and the McCain family,” tweeted Gonzalez, who shot a television ad supporting McCain’s reelection bid for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
McCain, an avid Arizona sports fan, died Saturday at age 81.
Thursday’s ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. ET at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix. About 1,000 seats were made available to the public.
Gonzalez, nicknamed “Gonzo“, had the game-winning hit in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to clinch the Diamondbacks’ first and only World Series championship to date.
He was a five-time MLB All-Star and won a Silver Slugger Award in 2001.