Major League Baseball has had three very dark Sundays since October 2014. All three players that have passed away on these Sundays had bright futures ahead of them. Two players had appeared in at least one All-Star Game. The other came into the 2014 season as baseball’s top prospect.
On October 26, 2014, baseball fans were getting ready to watch game five of the World Series. Minutes before first pitch, news broke that St. Louis Cardinals 22 year old outfielder and top prospect Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend passed away in a car accident in Taveras’ hometown of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic earlier that day. His passing shook Cardinals fans and the entire baseball world because of the potential of greatness he had shown. Taveras’ death a toxicology report showed that he had a blood alcohol content of .287. This was more than six times the legal limit in the Dominican Republic and more than three times the legal limit in the United States.
On September 25, 2016, baseball fans woke up to the news that 24 year old Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two of his friends passed away in a boating accident the night before. His passing shook Marlins fans and the entire baseball world. Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez, and Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura, writing “JF 16” on their hats. Martinez and Ventura also wrote “OT 18” on their hats as well since both were very close friends with Oscar Taveras. A toxicology report released more than a month after Fernandez’s death showed that Fernandez had twice the legal limit of alcohol as well as cocaine in his system. A strong odor of alcohol was also reported at the boat’s crash site.
Baseball’s recent dark Sunday occurred on January 22, 2017, when Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura passed away at the age of 25 in a car accident in Juan Adrian, Dominican Republic. Despite his fiery reputation on the field, tributes to Ventura came pouring through across multiple social media platforms from baseball fans, Ventura’s teammates, and other players and Major League Baseball officials. Ventura became well known to baseball fans in the 2014 World Series when he pitched seven shutout innings in game six. Ventura paid tribute to Oscar Taveras that night, who passed away two days earlier. According to early reports, Ventura was not wearing a seat belt at the time of his crash. Ventura’s toxicology report will not be made public, only his family and lawyers will see it.
There are lessons from all three deaths that several young people need to take away. From Fernandez and Taveras, the biggest lesson is to never operate a motorized vehicle under the influence of any substances. Another lesson from both Fernandez and Taveras is that other people suffer the consequences of your actions. Two of Fernandez’s friends passed away with him in his boating accident. Taveras’ girlfriend passed away with him in his car accident. From Taveras and Ventura we learned that we need to take every safety precaution necessary. Taveras, his girlfriend, and Ventura were not wearing seat-belts at the time of their accidents.
Taveras and Ventura also taught us to be careful how you drive, no matter the road conditions. Road conditions in the Dominican Republic are terrible. The potential for disaster increases when drivers are not in the right state of mind or disregard other conditions. If road conditions improve in the Dominican Republic it is on the citizens to drive carefully, take responsibility, and not drive under the influence.
No one is invincible and risky actions have consequences for everyone involved. Not only did Fernandez and Taveras lose their own lives, at least one other person lost their life, too. These tragedies are avoidable but everyone needs to take as much responsibility as possible. People close by need to step up pay attention to what is going on. Take away the keys if you know someone is unable to drive. If you are sober drive more cautiously in a place where everyone knows the roads are bad.
Taveras is survived by his 1-year old son as well as both of his parents. Fernandez is survived by his girlfriend who was four months pregnant at the time of his death. Ventura is survived by his wife, who he had just married before the 2016 season. Keeping people alive so they can be around their families and watch their children grow up is the top priority.