For many, it’s just as clear in the minds of people, even months after it happened.
The event? The sudden death of Cardinals’ outfielder Oscar Taveras.
On October 26, 2014, during a rainy evening in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, the 22-year old Taveras was driving with his girlfriend, 18-year old Edilia Arvelos, in their Chevy Camaro. Taveras, however, lost control of the car as it skidded off the road, and hit a tree. Both were transported to Sosúa Cabarete Medical Center where they later died of their injuries.
After their deaths (which occurred during the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants), a moment of silence was announced before the first pitch of Game 6. The tributes from players, fans, and even non-fans poured out by the thousands on a daily basis.
And while the sadness remained, there came a point where the incident surrounding the crash began to be questioned.
When the toxicology reports were released, it was found that Taveras’ blood alcohol content was five times over the legal limit at the time of the accident.
This is where the issue has arisen.
Last month, Cardinals chairman William DeWitt, Jr. stated that the team will wear black circular patches inscribed with the initials “OT” on them. Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez, a close friend of Oscar Taveras, changed his number from 44 to 18 to honor his late friend.
There are those out there who believe that by wearing a patch remembering someone who caused the death of himself and someone else (and by driving while intoxicated), the Cardinals’ organization is honoring a “murderer”.
The opinions of a few cannot define the opinions of everyone, and they should not do so. Not everyone feels this way about the patch remembering Taveras.
In fact, this isn’t even the first time the Cardinals will wear a patch honoring a player who had died in a car crash while intoxicated. In 2007, relief pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in a car crash during which he was driving over 10 miles over the speed limit, and his blood alcohol content was twice over the legal limit. That did not stop the Cardinals for remembering a teammate and member of their family.
And the same applies to Taveras.
Both the deaths of Hancock and Tavera are tragic, as was the circumstances that played a role in their deaths. Drinking and driving is never alright, and their sudden deaths are just two examples of something that happens way too often.
It’s not honoring a person who drove drunk. It’s honoring a man who had a family, a career, and a life that was cut too short way too soon…
(Photo credit: Dilip Viswanat)