I was sitting in front of the television scrolling through Twitter while watching the beginning of Game 5 of the World Series. I see a tweet in Spanish; sorry I cannot remember who posted it. I speak zero Spanish, but my eye caught the names of Brian Mejia and Oscar Taveras. Something did not seem right about it so I copied it and dropped it into a translator to get an idea of what it was saying. Not recognizing Brian Mejia’s name, I thought for a moment the tweet was referencing Taveras so people would have a connection to him. As soon as I hit enter and the translation came up, I was stunned. My mind just went blank for a moment as I tried to process that Oscar Taveras was dead. Oscar Taveras, a young man who I had seen play just recently hitting a pivotal home run for the Cardinals as they fought the Giants in the NLCS. I hoped it was a mistake and the media was reporting just a rumor, which would later prove false. As time passed and the reports came flying in, the horrible truth set in. Never mind his abilities on a baseball field, Taveras and his girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, 22 and 18 respectively, were gone far, far too soon.
I watched Game 5. Madison Bumgarner was brilliant, throwing a complete game shutout. However, I had lost much of my interest in the game. Various media outlets were reporting Taveras’ death, before Fox finally reported it during the game. Some people felt Fox should have been quicker to inform the public of his death, but I appreciated their restraint to be sure the information was correct before their reporting. Listening to Ken Rosenthal report on Taveras left me feeling empty.
I watched the game. Even though I have no connection to Taveras besides watching him play, I was felt the sadness of his death deep. A member of the baseball family was suddenly gone. The Juan Perez double in the 8th inning, which scored Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence, made me smile a little. Perez and Taveras were friends; they had played Winter Ball together in the Dominican Republic. I am not sure I could have continued playing had I just learned a good friend of mine had died. I was happy for Perez, if only the double was able to give him a few moments of reprieve from the sadness and pain he was going through.
The reaction all around baseball to the news of Taveras’ death was shock. One by one teams released statements expressing their sadness for the families and friends of both Taveras and Arvelo. Competition no longer mattered; rather the humanity is what mattered. Two mothers and two fathers lost their children. Siblings lost their best friends. People lost close friends. Two young people with many more years of life ahead were gone.
Everyone around baseball knew the death of Taveras and Arvelo were bigger than the game. The baseball family extends from Oscar’s teammates and opponents to the people who work in and around baseball to the fans. They all came together to collectively mourn and remember these two people. The idea of a baseball family is real. While Cardinals and Cubs players and fans may not like one another on game day, there is always a sense of respect for the other team. Baseball brings people together through their love of the game. While the baseball world is preparing to crown this years’ champion, it understands life is far more important than a game. Humanity will always trump competition. Oscar Taveras and Edilia Arvelo have left us far too soon. May they both rest in peace.