A Heartbreaking Goodbye: Remembering Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

     The Dominican community is grieving the loss of two well-known and respected Major League Baseball players: Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former Arizona Diamondbacks player Andy Marte. Early in the morning on Sunday, Jan. 22, both Ventura and Marte died in separate car accidents while in the Dominican Republic.

     Royals pitcher Ventura went his first full season with a 14-10 win-loss record, posting a 3.20 Earned Run Average (ERA). Ventura, 25, threw a 100 mile- per-hour fastball down the mound whenever he entered a game. His competitive spirit helped the Royals reach the World Series in 2015, which had not been done since 1985.

     Marte played in the MLB from 2005 to 2010 with the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He posted a .218 batting average with 21 home runs and 99 Runs Batted In (RBIs) while in the Major Leagues. His last two seasons were spent playing professional ball in South Korea, where he hit 22 home runs.

     According to the World Health Organization, a study conducted in 2015 found that the traffic accident rate in the Dominican Republic is 29.3 annual accidents per 100,000 residents. They currently hold the “highest traffic accident death rate in the Americas” (Chicago Tribune).

     The Dominican Republic has suffered much loss in recent years, as two other baseball players have also died in highway accidents: Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals and shortstop Andujar Cedeno. The MLB has grieved major losses in the baseball community, along with last year’s death of pitcher José Fernández of the Miami Marlins in a tragic boat accident.

     The death of Yordano Ventura came as a great shock all across the baseball community as his tragic accident was reported moments after the report of Andy Marte was published. Ventura, known as ACE to his Royals ballclub, was young and full of potential, which many players and teammates admired. He was quickly beginning to receive recognition as a potential Hall of Fame pitcher, and some went so far as to call Ventura the next Pedro Martínez.

     Ventura’s teammate Jeremy Guthrie posted a photo on Instagram with the caption, “Yordano ‘Ace’ Ventura was a young and vibrant kid….On the field he was a fiery competitor, someone willing to stand up to any challenge and overcome. It was a reflection of the life he lived while growing up in his native Dominican Republic.”

     Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez tweeted, “Guys, the only way we can pay tribute to you is by reflecting on the adjustments we all have to make in this game called life. #willmissyou”

     Well-known and respected baseball player Miguel Cabrera tweeted, “No puedo creerlo [crying emoji] dos amigos en un solo día [sad emoji],” which translates to: “I can’t believe it, two friends in only one day.”

     Death is never an easy thing to process, regardless of whether it is family, friends or big-name Major Leaguers. Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said his first reaction to the news of Ventura caused him to send a phone call on Sunday to Miami President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill. Hill was the one to quickly respond and take action regarding last year’s fatal accident involving Miami’s ace, José Fernández. The intentions of Moore’s phone call were not revealed, but he did say, “There’s no playbook for this. There’s no script. Mike was able to provide me [with] some insight and just give me some comfort, really.”

     Sources: Chicago Tribune, ESPN, Fox News

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