A jovial young man, a budding superstar, lost too soon
Toward the end of the regular season, I joked with Oscar Taveras that he had been around long enough that he could stop calling me ‘ma’am’ during each of our interactions. I told him it made me feel old, though, in fairness, I guess I was to him, a 22-year-old kid. He laughed and noted that he probably wouldn’t be able to break the habit. That’s how he had been taught, he added.
And then he shook my hand.
Almost every one of our conversations — and goodness, now I know we didn’t have enough of them — ended with a handshake and a smile. Always gracious with his time and ever eager to show off how far his English speaking skills had come, Taveras brought joy to my job. He had such a sweet swing, but also the heart to match it. I’m glad I got to know that part of him, too.
For all the negative storylines that may have emerged from his season — Would he live up to the hype? Could he get in shape? Did he fit in the clubhouse? — there was never one iota of doubt that Taveras loved what he did. He was a respectful young man, trying to find his way in a game that had always come so naturally to him. Had he been given the chance to have a full career, I’m sure he would have gotten there.
We’ll always remember this…
Those were two swings that, now we know, bookended a career cut so tragically short.
The emotions are still raw, the suddenness of this all too real. As the baseball world was getting ready to tune into Game 5 of the World Series, general manager John Mozeliak received a phone call that punched him in his gut. Manager Mike Matheny declined interview requests, noting he couldn’t get himself composed enough to speak publically just yet.
Matheny has worked hard to create a clubhouse culture where players and staff are like family. You’ll understand, then, why this hits the organization like the loss of a family member.
The Cardinals will release further information on funeral arrangements in the coming days. More information about the accident will also be learned.
For now, let me direct you to MLB.com’s coverage of this tragedy and the memories that remain of a kid with such a genuine love for life and baseball:
- The news story: what we know now about a life cut far too short
- Across baseball, players offered their condolences to Taveras’ family and the Cardinals organization
- Teammates, while they tried to digest the news, shared memories and stories of their beloved teammate
- Following Darryl Kile (2002) and Josh Hancock (2007), the Cardinals endure a third player tragedy in 13 seasons
- The Cardinals will never get the chance to see if Taveras would have reached his high potential
- Reaction to Taveras’ death from those who heard it while playing in the World Series
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