The phrase "full of life" was first uttered about someone who was like John Marzano. That he's gone, passed on at age 45, is just a ... there's no words. "Tragedy" isn't something that should be said about John's life, because we'll remember the comedy and the drama much more. I met him only briefly, working with him last October while I was doing MLB.com for the playoffs. John, Vinny Micucci, and I did the "Hot Corner" together twice and each time, I laughed and learned more than I can ever put into words. Most of his jokes were childish and crass, but it was that laugh that let you know he lived life like he was letting you in on the joke.
At one point, we were watching Roger Clemens warm up and I turned to him and said "What did you look for when you were catching Clemens in the pen?" I certainly had no idea what he'd say, but how many men in the world even HAVE an answer for that? He launched into one of the most amazing monologues about how a catcher prepares his pitcher for the game. I can remember asking him afterwards, off air I think, about how he saw all that while still catching a ball coming at him at nearly 100mph. He paused and said "I dunno. I just did." He was never more than what he was, but he was willing to think about those things.
I came in a no one to him. He was a major league player, a guy who had been in playoff games. I was some writer, but he never said "who is this geek?" without a playful tone. He asked me about something I said about pitching mechanics and somehow it got turned around to a discussion about how catchers were never taught what to look for, but that they ended up master reverse engineers, looking for inconsistencies.
John Marzano taught me about baseball in our brief encounters. From what I know of him and what his friends say, he lived a life most of us only dream of. Godspeed, Johnny Marz. I still owe you a beer.