Oscar Taveras, Madison Bumgarner And Feeling Connected To Baseball Players
Tragically, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras (ROTOscouting Report) was killed in a car accident on Sunday. The news is devastating for his family and friends, and the baseball community at large has lost an individual who, from all accounts, was a joy to be around. Beyond his immeasurable talent, Taveras was a 22-year old young man taken from this world before his time.
Oscar Taveras was one of baseball’s top prospects. The left-hander was a hitting machine, posting batting averages over .300 in nearly every single season of his career. The young Redbird was expected to take the right field job after spring training, though injury delayed his arrival in 2014. Sadly, his game-tying home run in Game 2 of the NLCS was not just one of his best highlights — it’s also his last.
On a night when Madison Bumgarner took the mound and added another chapter to his own October legend, all I could think about was speaking with him on the phone, once, when he was nineteen years old. I doubt he remembers it — he hadn’t yet submitted a document needed before the start of spring training and I, as an intern with the Giants, was tasked with calling the minor leaguers with outstanding paperwork. Ever since then, I’ve followed his career with pride. When he was recalled at the end of 2009, I skipped my evening class to be in attendance for his debut. I’m no longer an MLB employee, but I now follow his career in another way: Bumgarner is on two of my dynasty league staffs.
The same year I was with the Giants, another tragedy occurred when Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was also killed in a car accident. The 22-year old had just pitched in his season debut and logged six shutout innings, a strong step towards fulfilling his immense potential. I remember driving to AT&T Park in the morning, listening to the report on the radio, and sharing disbelief with my coworkers.
The prospect community has grown so much over the past few years, giving fans everywhere stronger connections to players beyond our hometown teams. We knew about Oscar Taveras, Nick Adenhart, Madison Bumgarner and their immense potentials long before they made their big-league debuts. We compared Taveras to Gregory Polanco in terms of who’d be the bigger star without ever entering the potential for tragedy into the equation.
On a day when Bumgarner reached new heights in his career, we learn another will never reach his own — reminding us these players are still human. These men, who stand in the crucible of October and demonstrate their mettle. These men, who have hopes and dreams as much as any other person. These men, who are still treated by friends and families as if they’re the same kids with blistered hands from practicing until dark.
Oscar Taveras Tragedy Redefines October Memories
Though Taveras was a Major League player, and we marveled at his powerful uppercut, he was just 22 years old and had a full life ahead of him. Same as Taveras’s girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, who also died in the accident. Same as Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson, who perished along with Adenhart.
It is truly the most striking contrast to see this tragedy take place during the World Series. October is regarded with such prestige, a time when legends are made. Each pitch, each swing, each play still fresh in our minds, demonstrating the greatness of the sport. Players like Reggie, Big Papi, and Jeter gained immortality in October. Oscar Taveras is a reminder of the humanity of our heroes.
27 Oct 2014 / Ben Flajole / 1
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