Cardinal Nation is reeling today, after having some time to process yesterday’s tragic news about the death of outfielder Oscar Taveras.
Taveras was so young…only 22 years old. People his age aren’t supposed to die, not for any reason. But I’m not sure that his age is the only thing that makes this so upsetting. Of course it’s horrible when someone in the prime of a very promising life is lost too early, but I think there’s something else here that makes it even harder to take.
Professional athletes are our heroes. They’re almost super-human. Their strength and speed, coordination and mental toughness, make them achieve more on their worst day than we could ever hope for on our best. We revel in their accomplishments like they are our own, cheer them on, and talk about them incessantly, as you do when you’re discussing a hero.
Super heroes aren’t supposed to die. They’re so powerful on the field, that we assume that extends to their private lives as well. Even those of us in St. Louis who have seen this happen too often in recent years want to believe that this kind of tragedy just can’t happen again. We assumed that our rookie had a long, promising career in front of him, hoped he would be a Cardinal for life.
Well, he was. It was far too short of a life, and we never got to see his potential fulfilled. But his career, as brief as it was, was spent here. And “Minor League Guy” left Cardinal Nation with great memories of his first game at Busch (where he hit a home run that literally seemed to tear open the sky and bring the rain), and his last (another home run, in the playoffs, no less), and all those games in between, where we saw and will always remember his infectious smile and joy in playing the game.
Rest in peace, Oscar. You will be missed.