Buck Martinez remembers referring to Tony Fernandez as “the gadget man” when the 2 performed collectively on the Toronto Blue Jays within the 1980s.
Fernandez, Martinez recalled, might at all times pull out all of the instruments when he wanted them.
Fernandez, a five-time all-star and one of many best infielders in Blue Jays historical past, has died, in line with an announcement from the staff. He was 57.
The 1993 World Series winner had battled kidney issues for a number of years. He was first hospitalized with polycystic kidney illness in 2017.
“For me, he was a cornerstone of the winning tradition of this organization when he came up in the early 80s,” Martinez, now a Blue Jays broadcaster, mentioned Sunday at the staff’s spring coaching camp in Dunedin, Fla. “He sort of solidified the center of the infield.
“He was a kind of multi-talented guys who might do a number of issues that will help you win. A terrific individual, firstly. I really feel unhappy for his household, his spouse and his children.”
My coronary heart is so heavy at the lack of former teammate, good friend, and Champion Tony Fernandez. My prayers exit to his spouse and their complete household. I will always remember this man. He influenced my life in a optimistic approach. He made everybody round him higher. RIP my brother. <a href=”https://t.co/lMZpgYqKed”>pic.twitter.com/lMZpgYqKed</a>
Fernandez was in crucial situation in an induced coma at a Florida hospital two weeks in the past after creating pneumonia.
Impact on baseball group ‘immeasurable’
A assertion from the Blue Jays referred to as Fernandez “one in all our membership’s most celebrated and revered gamers.”
“Enshrined endlessly in Blue Jays historical past on the Level of Excellence, Tony left an equally indelible mark within the hearts of a technology of Blue Jays followers throughout his 12 unforgettable seasons with the staff,” the staff mentioned.
We had been taking part in Cleveland and he pinch-hit within the eighth. His spot had come up within the ninth, however he had gone house. That was Tony.— Ex-Blue Jays catcher Buck Martinez on former teammate Tony Fernandez
“His influence on the baseball group in Toronto and throughout Canada is immeasurable. Our deepest condolences are with the Fernandez household throughout this time.”
The Dominican-born Fernandez, who spent a lot of his time at shortstop whereas additionally seeing time at second and third base, performed 12 seasons over 4 stints with the Blue Jays. He is the franchise chief in video games performed (1,450), hits (1,583) and triples (72).
Martinez was Toronto’s supervisor throughout Fernandez’s final stint with the Blue Jays in 2001. Martinez recalled Fernandez’s remaining sport, during which he left the stadium early following a pinch-hit look within the eighth inning, assuming his day was over.
“We had been taking part in towards Cleveland, and he pinch-hit within the eighth. His spot had come up within the ninth, however he had gone house,” Martinez said with a laugh. “That was Tony. That’s the way in which Tony was, and everybody understood that. Chris Woodward needed to hit for Tony, the pinch-hitter.”
I’m so sorry to listen to about Tony Fernandez passing. A nice teammate and good friend. A pitchers dream to have him at shortstop when your pitching. One of the most effective ever. R.I.P. my good friend.
Fernandez’s defence additionally was an enormous a part of his sport. He received 4 straight Gold Glove Awards with the Blue Jays from 1986-89 and was a five-time all-star.
First discovered to catch utilizing milk carton
Originally signed by the Blue Jays in 1979 at the age of 17, Fernandez grew up in humble environment within the Dominican Republic.
He first discovered to catch utilizing a milk carton as a glove, then went on to win 4 straight Gold Glove Awards with the Blue Jays from 1986-89.
“He was that gifted and that is principally how he constructed the inspiration of a Gold Glove profession,” Martinez said. “But I assume that is why children appreciated him, as a result of he was so enthusiastic.
“He brought so much joy to the game and when he ran onto the field at Exhibition Stadium it was a situation where he was playing for the love of the game and that came across to the audience.”
Asked which defensive performs by Fernandez particularly stood out, former teammate Devon White recalled one from Sept. 25, 1987 — earlier than the outfielder was even with the Blue Jays — during which Fernandez broke his elbow throughout a sport towards the Detroit Tigers.
Toronto was 1 half video games up on Detroit within the race for the American League East crown, however capped the season with seven straight losses with out Fernandez within the lineup. The Blue Jays would end the season two video games behind the division-winning Tigers.
“We flinched when we saw that [injury] because he was a good guy all around and a good player,” White mentioned.
Dealt to Padres in Alomar commerce
Fernandez, who made his major-league debut with Toronto in 1983, was a part of the Blue Jays’ first two playoff groups in ’85 and ’89 earlier than he was dealt in a surprising, blockbuster commerce after the 1990 season.
Then-general supervisor Pat Gillick dealt Fernandez and first baseman Fred McGriff to the San Diego Padres for second baseman Roberto Alomar and outfielder Joe Carter.
Alomar, now a Hall of Famer, and Carter helped anchor the Blue Jays as they received World Series titles in 1992 and ’93. Carter hit the walkoff homer that gave the Blue Jays the ’93 title over Philadelphia.
Fernandez, nonetheless, additionally was a key a part of that ’93 staff. He had 9 runs batted in and posted a .333 common over the six video games towards the Phillies.
The Blue Jays had re-acquired the pending free agent in a mid-June commerce with the New York Mets, who had picked him up in a cope with San Diego after the ’92 season. Toronto had a gap at shortstop after Dick Schofield suffered a season-ending damage.
“Just him coming back and knowing what he was capable of doing, it gave us a big lift,” mentioned former teammate Devon White, now a member of the teaching employees on the Blue Jays’ triple-A affiliate.
Fernandez batted .306 in 94 regular-season video games for the Blue Jays in 1993. He posted a .318 common within the American League Championship Series towards the Chicago White Sox and had a .423 on-base share towards the Phillies.
Added to Level of Excellence in 2001
After stints with the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees, Fernandez fell simply in need of profitable one other World Series with Cleveland in 1997 because the Indians misplaced in Game 7 to the Florida Marlins.
Fernandez returned to the Blue Jays for 2 extra years beginning in 1998. He made the all-star sport in 1999 earlier than spending a season in Japan.
Fernandez completed his 17-season major-league profession taking part in 48 video games for the Blue Jays in 2001 after he was launched by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Late within the 2001 season, the Blue Jays put Fernandez on their Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre. Fernandez was the seventh recipient of the honour, and the second infielder after Alomar.
After his retirement, Fernandez was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.
Funeral preparations had been pending.