Cardinals stunned by Taveras' death

BY foxsports • October 27, 2014

Mike Matheny needed some time to figure out what to say. Like the rest of the St. Louis Cardinals, the manager was leveled by the sudden death of Oscar Taveras.

The Cardinals are grieving the loss of an active player for the third time in 12 years after the 22-year-old Taveras died Sunday in a car crash in the Dominican Republic. Matheny, general manager John Mozeliak and pitcher Carlos Martinez were part of a group from the organization with plans to attend a private burial service Tuesday in Taveras' country.

"I was asked last night to give some words regarding the tragic death of Oscar Taveras, but I just simply couldn't," Matheny said Monday in a statement. "To say this is a horrible loss of a life ended too soon would be an understatement."

Taveras was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro at the time of the accident on a highway between the beaches of Sosua and Cabarete in Puerto Plata, about 215 miles north of the capital of Santo Domingo. Edilia Arvelo, Taveras' 18-year-old girlfriend, also died in the crash.

A funeral for Arvelo was held Monday in her hometown of Moca.

Highway police spokesman Col. Diego Pesqueira said the road was wet from a recent rain but the cause of the crash is under investigation. An autopsy was done Monday but results weren't available.

Taveras made his major league debut this year. He hit .239 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 80 games for the NL Central champions.

"In my opinion, the word `love' is the most misused, and misunderstood word in the English language. It is not popular for men to use this word, and even less popular for athletes," Matheny said. "But, there is not a more accurate word for how a group of men share a deep and genuine concern for each other. We loved Oscar, and he loved us. That is what a team does, that is what a family does. You will be missed, Oscar."

Matheny was a catcher for the Cardinals when pitcher Darryl Kile died of a heart problem in June 2002. St. Louis also lost Josh Hancock in a fatal car crash in April 2007.

Each of those deaths occurred during the season, but the accident for Taveras happened with his teammates at home after losing to San Francisco in the NL Championship Series.

Many of them took to Twitter to express their condolences.

"Last 30 minutes I've been sick to my stomach. Keep thinking about Oscar's big smile in the dugout whenever we made a big play/got a big hit," All-Star reliever Pat Neshek posted Sunday night.

Taveras was a teenager when he signed with St. Louis as an international free agent in 2008. Before this season, Taveras was ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect by MLB.com and Baseball America.

He homered against the Giants' Yusmeiro Petit in his major league debut May 31. He also had a big solo drive in the seventh inning of Game 2 in the NLCS.

"All of us throughout Major League Baseball are in mourning this evening," Commissioner Bud Selig said Sunday in a statement.

"Oscar, a young member of the baseball family, was full of promise and at the dawn of a wonderful career in our game, evident in his game-tying home run against the Giants exactly two weeks ago."

It looked as if Taveras was headed to the majors in 2013, but he had surgery for a high right ankle sprain last August for an injury that did not respond to treatment. He got off to a nice start at Triple-A Memphis this season, earning a promotion by batting .325 with seven homers in 49 games.

"I simply can't believe it," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Sunday. "I first met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest."



share story