Legendary Blue Jay Tony Fernandez dead at 57
TORONTO -- Legendary Toronto Blue Jay Tony Fernández, who tops the team's all-time leaderboard for hits and games played, has died at the age of 57, according to the baseball club.
The Toronto Blue Jays put out a statement on Twitter featuring a photo of Fernández, captioning it: “We will miss you, Tony.”
The organization called him “one of our clubs most celebrated and respected players,” adding, “Tony left an equally indelible mark in the hearts of a generation of blue Jay fans during his 12 unforgettable seasons with the team.
“His impact on the baseball community in Toronto and across Canada is immeasurable,” it noted before offering its condolences to the player’s family.
“Tony Fernández left for a better life,” the MLB’s official Spanish-language Twitter account tweeted. “He gave us 17 years as a baseball player in #LasMayores and a lifetime of pure baseball.”
Earlier this year, Fernández, who was a member of Toronto’s World Series-winning team in 1993, was hospitalized due to kidney disease complications and promptly put into a medically induced coma. According to MLB insider Hector Gomez, who cited a Dominican newspaper, Fernández suffered a stroke on Saturday and was taken off life support.
The Dominican MLB Twitter account called him a “warrior” and offered its “our deepest condolences to Tony Fernández's family at this difficult time.”
Fernández was Toronto’s all-time leader in hits, singles, triples and games played. He was also a five-time MLB All-Star player.
In addition to playing three stretches with the Jays, he also played for the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers.
The popular infielder was one of a handful of former players who earned the Toronto Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence award, which was created by the team for “recognizing tremendous individual achievement.”
CANADIAN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME, FORMER TEAMMATES SHARE THOUGHTS
Dan Plesac, MLB Network analyst and three-time MLB All-Star pitcher, is among the dozens sharing their thoughts on Fernández’s passing.
In a tweet, he praised his former Blue Jays teammate as a “kind, gentle giant of a man. Soft spoken and a true professional.”
Todd Stottlemyre, who played with Fernández on the Jays when they won the World Series, tweeted “My heart is so heavy at the loss of former teammate.” He also wrote, “I will never forget this man. He influenced my life in a positive way. He made everyone around him better.”
Another of Fernández’s teammates, pitcher David Wells, called him, “a pitchers dream to have him at shortstop when your pitching. One of the best ever.”
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum referenced Fernández’s ackowledged the death Saturday night, and then released a full statement in a series of tweets on Sunday.
“We are heartbroken to learn that Tony Fernández has passed away. Tony was a baseball legend in every sense,” the first tweet read. “He was a five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner, a World Series champion and the Toronto Blue Jays’ all-time hits leader, but more importantly he was a gentle and thoughtful man who was always quick to pray for someone that he sensed needed help.”
The account referenced a “very moving and inspiring speech” he’d made when he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. It also noted that in his retirement, Fernández was a “strong supporter of our museum who returned regularly to our annual induction ceremony.”
It closed the statement by offering condolences to the Hall of Famer’s family, calling him an all-time great on the “field and a charitable, selfless person away from it. We will miss him dearly.”