Sports

MLB rookie Oscar Taveras, girlfriend die in car crash

Oscar Taveras was killed in a car crash last Sunday in the Dominican Republic. He was 22. (credit: Courtesy of Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons) Oscar Taveras was killed in a car crash last Sunday in the Dominican Republic. He was 22. (credit: Courtesy of Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons)

This article should be about the thrilling David versus Goliath tale that just unfolded in front of our eyes as the San Francisco Giants won their third World Series in five years in a thrilling seven game series that topped the Kansas City Royals, who were making their first postseason appearance since 1985.

This article should be about the incredible regular season where the standings flipped multiple times, as perceived sharks like the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox were devoured by minnows like the Baltimore Orioles.

This article should be about the amazing individual performances from all sorts of unlikely sources. We witnessed the emergence of young sluggers in Chicago White Sox first baseman José Abreu and Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, despite this mini dead-ball era. We might see a pitcher win the National League MVP after the stunning season turned in by Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. We saw Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout continue his reign as baseball’s brightest star. We watched Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas reverse the popular narrative on him, from just another bust to a playoff hero. We saw Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner cement his status as maybe the greatest World Series pitcher ever, mowing down Royals like the French Revolution.

This article is not about any of that. Despite the string of classic October clashes, this article is not about the heart-stopping postseason that just played out over the past month, because the phrase heart-stopping is just a figure of speech. The excitement pales in comparison to the unfortunately real heart-dropping feeling that accompanied news of former Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras’ death Sunday, Oct. 26th. Details on his death are sparse, but he died, along with his girlfriend, in an automobile accident.

This story came out during game five of the World Series, which was still tight at the time.

This should have been an exciting moment for baseball fans as they witnessed a masterpiece by Bumgarner. However, no one could watch anymore by the sixth inning. Every baseball fan I knew was in shock, and at a loss for words.

Some held out hope that the story was simply another Twitter hoax and that we would wake up tomorrow to the Taveras family denying the nasty rumor.

By the end of the night, it was confirmed that Taveras was dead.

Taveras was supposed to be a hero: the next great home-grown Cardinal, and another example of the greatness of the Cardinal Way. He was a star at the minor league level, a prodigious hitter and a solid fielder. He homered in his very first game in St. Louis, in his second at bat, and in his final game in St. Louis — exactly two weeks before his death. He struggled at times as a rookie, but that was to be expected. At 22 years old, he had a bright future once he got used to Major League pitching. That future is gone.

His talent and potential are not what makes this death so tragic. Baseball lost one of its best young players on one of its most beloved organizations, but the pain digs even deeper. Part of being a sports fan is giving an immense level of respect to the athletes who pour their lives into maximizing their talent and making the product fans watch on television so awe inspiring and captivating. In baseball, that level of respect is emphasized even more since every moment is a one-on-one battle between the pitcher and the hitter.

A baseball fan will gain a level of familiarity with most of the players in the league. Even the stars of the teams we hate still hold meaning to us. The animosity is contrived, but the personal connection is real, even if it is obviously a one-way street. These are real people, with extremely familiar names and faces, who often have gripping tales of their past or present. To lose one is like losing a close friend. To lose one so young is a nightmare.

This baseball season was a treat to any fan of the sport. In contrast, the loss of Taveras is truly a gut punch. In a year where no one could possibly have predicted the twists and turns that led to one of the most exciting months of baseball in recent memory, the back half of the World Series became almost irrelevant. Several players inscribed OT #22, his initials and number, on their hats. Fans and players grieved, and sent their condolences to the Taveras family, who must be dealing with utter heartbreak at the moment. The loss is a tough pill for the whole baseball world to swallow, and all of our thoughts are with them through this tragedy.

Taveras will go down in history as a tale of greatness never realized, stolen far too soon.

Rest in peace, Oscar Taveras. You will be missed.