Over the past weekend, one former player and one current player from Major League Baseball have passed away in the Dominican Republic. The two players were pitcher Yordana Ventura and infielder Andy Marte. Both passed away from being involved in separate car crashes miles away from another.
Yordana Ventura reached the majors in 2013 starting out with the Kansas City Royals. He went on to be a starting pitcher while also being a spark on the team. In three consecutive starts, he was the initiator and involved in bench clearing brawls. He was a hard throwing right handed pitcher who had a big future ahead of him. He helped lead his team to the World Series Championship in 2015. He ended what would be his last season with an overall 38-31 record with 470 strikeouts.
Former MLB player Andy Marte started out in the majors at 16 becoming a free agent with the Atlanta Braves. After a season with the Braves he was then traded to the Red Sox and then traded again to the Cleveland Indians where he got little playing time so he went back to AAA playing for the Columbus Clippers and being a free agent once again. In 2014, he was called up to play by the Arizona Diamondbacks for the season. After, it was decided he would be a free agent again. He went on to play in the Korean KBO League until the end of the 2016 season.
The Dominican Republic sends more players to the MLB than any other country. In the past couple of years there have been multiple deaths while the players were back home including the death of Oscar Taveras in 2014. Taveras also was involved in a car accident killing him and his girlfriend. When he was killed right before the World Series, Yordana Ventura who died this past weekend honored him by writing “RIP O.T #18” on his hat and other equipment items. Although there are over 1,000 players in the MLB, many of them are close friends or have played with one another sometime. Many players were shocked to learn about the deaths of Ventura and Marte.
Organizations, fans and players went on social media to honor the two who passed away. Eric Hosmer, a teammate of Ventura’s posted a picture of them together saying “I love you my brother. I’m in disbelief and don’t know what to say. I love you ACE.” Shortly after the news, fans started arriving outside of Kauffman Stadium to drop things off and pay respect to Ventura. The Indians, a former team of Marte tweeted “He was a genuine person who always greeted you with a warm smile.” Even the Dominican Republic’s president Danilo Medina went to Twitter to address the deaths of the two saying they were “great sportsman who raised high our national banner.”
It was a heartbreaking weekend for anyone who loves baseball. No matter what team you root for, it still stings knowing a player has fallen. The league and many others do not have answers to why wonderful players have been taken too soon from them but in the meantime the baseball world is brought together to grieve and honor those players.
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