We mourn the passing of a player who meant so much to so many people…someone whose life was tragically cut short way too soon.
We mourn the loss of Oscar Taveras.
He was just 22 years old.
For the third time since 2002, an active member of the Cardinals has tragically passed away.
On Sunday, October 26th, Taveras and his girlfriend, 18-year old Edilia Arvelo died in a car accident in their home country of the Dominican Republic. He was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro at the time of the crash, which had occurred on a Dominican Republic highway. He was carrying no ID papers at the time, but family members were able to identify his body.
The news shook the baseball world. Immediately, an outpouring of grief from baseball fans and players were posted all over the web, and team’s official social media accounts paid their respects to the Cardinals’ organization and the Taveras family. Statements were also made from manager Mike Matheny, chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak.
For years, Oscar Taveras was considered one of the best, if not the best, prospect in baseball. His athleticism was well-known, and was a part of the Cardinals’ organization for over six years. In 2008, he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, a franchise famous for its strong farm system, and slew of top prospects. Over the next three years, he worked his way up through the Cardinals’ farm system, and in 2011, Taveras hit .386 in the Class A Midwest League.
In 2012, he hit 23 home runs along with 94 RBI’s for AA Springfield. With his help, the Springfield Cardinals had reached the Texas League Championship. He had only struck out 56 times, and had 67 extra base hits.
During his six minor league seasons, he had a career .320 average.
2013 was the year in which the Cardinals put Taveras up to the big test…sending him to the Memphis Redbirds, the last stop before the major leagues. Unfortunately, he suffered an ankle injury in May which affected him throughout the remainder of the season. He finished 2013 with a .306 average, five home runs, and 12 doubles.
Entering this season, the hype really began to heat up. People became more and more intrigued by the young star, his climb to the top, and the anticipation surrounding his debut grew.
And on May 30th, 2014, the St. Louis Cardinals promoted Oscar Taveras to their major league 40-man roster.
His first in game action was against the San Francisco Giants on May 31st. In front of a crowd of over 40,000 at Busch Stadium, with raindrops pouring down, Taveras stepped up to the plate.
With a 1-0 count and Yusmeiro Petit on the mound, fans would soon become witnesses to something special. Taveras launched the ball over the right-field bullpen, sending the crowd into a frenzy: his first MLB hit was a home run, that gave St. Louis the 1-0 lead.
His bright smile shined as he trotted the bases, and he was given a curtain call and standing ovation after the home run.
St. Louis wound up winning the game 2-0, and the victory was the beginning of their surge to another NL Central Title.
As for Taveras, things became tumultuous. He soon found himself back in Memphis on June 19th, when Matt Adams returned from an injury. He had hit .189 in 40 plate appearances while on the big league roster. That, along with lingering injuries and the rise of fellow rookie Randal Grichuk, hindered Taveras’s playing time, and opportunities.
He finished the 2014 season with 3 home runs, 22 RBI’s, and a .239 average.
Despite the low statistics, he was added as a member of the NLCS roster when the Cardinals faced the Giants, and played a major role in Game 2, the only game St. Louis won during the NLCS. He hit a big solo home run in the seventh inning of Game 2, and helped the Cardinals tie the series at 1-1, but San Francisco would wind up winning the series 4-1, advancing to the World Series.
After the season had ended, many scouts, analysts, and fans were excited for 2015, both for the team as a whole, as well as to see how well Taveras would improve on his rookie campaign.
Sadly, we will never know…
It’s been 12 years since Cardinal Nation tragically lost pitcher Daryl Kile, at the age of 33 due to a heart attack, and seven years since the loss of pitcher Josh Hancock, who crashed in a drunk-driving accident in St. Louis at the age of 29. Through those losses, and the passing of many other beloved St. Louisians, the city persevered, and they will do so once again.
This isn’t just a city of people. It’s a big family that rallies around each other.
Oscar Taveras was a player that you could build a team around. He had strong plate awareness, was an all-around talented athlete, and a beloved member of Cardinal Nation, despite his brief tenure. He and his girlfriend left the world way too early. Their passing strikes a cord in the hearts of millions worldwide.
I personally would like to give my thoughts and condolences to the Taveras and Arvelo families at this time. Words cannot do justice how truly saddened I am hearing of the tragic accident which has occurred.
Life is a wonderful gift, that sadly, can end in an instant. Always tell those you love what you think of them, enjoy the gift of life you’ve been given, and make each day count.
His career was brief. His life was short. But Oscar Taveras will live on forever in the hearts of those who knew him, cheered for him, and cared about him…
Statements from Arch City Sports Writers:
Writer Carly Schaber: “I send my thoughts and condolences to the whole Taveras family. Words cannot describe the hurt I am feeling. Oscar was a bud that was so close to blooming. His young legacy will never be forgotten in the Cardinal Nation community. This is a time to put the statistic side of baseball aside. It’s time to take a step back and realize how precious life is. Godspeed, rookie. We all love you so very much. Fly extra high, Cardinal Nation.”
Writer Billy Perry: “The sudden and untimely death of Oscar Taveras hurts Cardinal Nation and myself deep inside. The baseball fan inside me can’t help but think about the future of Cardinals baseball, which I know is irrelevant at this point. The parent inside me can’t help but feel awful for Taveras’ parents. I couldn’t imagine having to bury one of my children. This is a kid that had a higher ceiling than any prospect we’ve seen come through the farm system in 14 years. Now, instead of possibly one day having a portrait on the left field wall with the Cardinal legends, he will have a black “OT18” patch on the right field wall. Rest in peace young man. You will not be forgotten. Not in Cardinal Nation.”
Writer Ryan Melosi: “I spoke the words to my family, “Oscar Taveras just died in a car wreck.” I texted them to more than a few friends. It still didn’t seem real. How could it be real? Only 22 years old. An entire career ahead of him. From a baseball standpoint, he was our next superstar. From a human standpoint, it’s a 22 year old kid who never had a chance to live his dreams.
It’s tough to deal with. If this had happened in the regular season we could at least see some closure. An on field ceremony remembering him. His absence clear in the day to day game we all love to watch.”
Writer Scott Bachelor: “Losing a player of that caliber so young who barely played a season in the majors, this one hurts. A young man with his career in front of him passed away sooner than any man should because of a car accident. Oscar Taveras will be missed but let me remind you just how random and short this life could be. While keeping Oscar Taveras in your mind, call, text, e-mail, send a letter to the ones you care about and tell them how important they are to you. Love the people around you like Taveras is loved and remembered in this city. It may be tried and true, but do not take this life for granted, it is the only one you get.
I’d like to imagine that somewhere in the clouds, Taveras is playing a game of pickle with Darryl Kile and Josh Hancock, because while all those men were taken to soon from us, hopefully they can still do what they love in the afterlife.”
Writer Ryan Leopando: “His smile was infectious. His mood was always upbeat. I was honored to be able to meet him this season. I was privileged to be able to witness his first major league career homerun. We all saw the future of Cardinals baseball brighten with Oscar Taveras now at the major league level. It was the first of many homeruns in a Cardinal uniform. Then tragedy struck. A rising star at age 22, his life was taken far too short. Sadly, we will never know what his promising career would turn out like.
I was privileged to witness what turned out to be his last major league homerun. A pinch-hit homerun in Game 2 of the NLCS, also against the Giants. A game tying shot down the right field line that led to a Kolten Wong walk-off homerun. What an amazing experience.
Taveras’ death reminds us just how precious life truly is. It is a sad day in Cardinal Nation and in the world of baseball. Thoughts and prayers to his family and his girlfriend Edilia Arvelo’s family.
Writer Bryan Mink: “I remember watching Oscar’s first home run in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform with my dad. Every game, we saw some of the potential Oscar had to be the every day right fielder for the Birds on the Bat, and sadly, we as baseball fans never got to see it come to fruition.
John Green once said in one of his books that “some infinities are larger than other infinities”. There are an infinite number of solutions between a finite set of numbers. In Oscar’s case, that number was 80. That was how many regular season games he appeared in. Out of all infinite amount of moments we witnessed Oscar in those 80 games, that one home run is going to stick with me forever. I’m glad to have shared some of my infinity with Cardinal Nation in watching Oscar Taveras play ball.”
Writer Megan Edwards: “The loss of Oscar Taveras goes beyond the Cardinal dugout. He was the Cardinals’ top prospect for some time, coming through the minors, but when he made it to the big leagues, his humility as well as his wanting to learn how to make himself a better player were apparent. My heart is broken for Cardinal Nation.”
Founder Mick Lite: “The first thing I saw about his passing was a Deadspin article and I figured it was a sick joke or that another person with same name passed away. Then I got the press release and it felt like a bad dream. I have been excited about Oscar Taveras, like most fans, for awhile now. Made a couple trips to Memphis to watch the Redbirds and you could tell he was going to be something very special and he was always smiling. Was really looking forward to the spring and next season to see him really break out. It’s unbelievable that we have now lost three players in recent years who were active players with the team. My thoughts are with the families, players and teams who have played with and against him, and all of our fan base. We really get attached and grow with our players like we are family too.”