Toronto Blue Jays All-Star shortstop Tony Fernandez has died at the age of 57.
In a tweet on Saturday, Major League Baseball’s Spanish account confirmed Fernandez’s death, saying the shortstop had “left for a better life.”
“He gave us 17 years as a baseball player in #LasMatores and a lifetime of pure baseball,” the tweet reads.
Earlier this month, Fernandez was taken to a Florida hospital where he was placed into a medically-induced coma over complications from kidney disease.
Fernandez, 57, had battled kidney problems for several years. He was first hospitalized with polycystic kidney disease in 2017.
Imrad Hallim, the director and co-founder of the Tony Fernandez Foundation, told The Canadian Press that Fernandez had been on the waiting list for a new kidney and had been living on dialysis for “many years.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, the disease is an inherited disorder where cyst clusters cause the kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time.
Fernandez is survived by his wife Clara and his children Joel, Jonathan Abraham, Andres and Jasmine.
According to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Fernandez, a national of the Dominican Republic, played 2158 games in the major league from 1983 to 2001.
He made his major league debut with the Blue Jays in 1983.
In total, Fernandez spent 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and was part of the World Series-winning team in 1993.
He leads the team’s all-time in hits (1,583), singles (1,160), triples (72) and games played (1,450). He is also fifth in franchise history in batting average (.297), fourth in stolen bases (172) and fifth in runs scored (704).
Fernandez’s defence was a large part of his game. He was awarded four Gold Glove awards in (1986-1989) during his time with the Blue Jays.
In a tweet on Sunday, the Toronto Blue Jays said they were “deeply saddened” by Fernandez’ passing and offered its “deepest condolences” to his family.
“Enshrined forever in Blue Jays history on the Level of Excellence, Tony left an equally indelible mark in the hearts of a generation of Blue Jays fans during his 12 unforgettable seasons with the team,” the statement reads. “His impact on the baseball community in Toronto and across Canada is immeasurable.”
During his 18 years in the MLB, Fernandez played for six other teams including the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets, the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians.
He retired in 2001.
Fernandez was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Marys, Ont., in 2008.
Off the field, Fernandez founded the Tony Fernandez Foundation, a charitable organization that works with underprivileged and troubled children through counselling, education, training and physical and spiritual activities.
In a statement, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame said it was “heartbroken to learn that Tony Fernandez has passed away,” and were sending “thoughts and prayers” to his wife and children.
“Tony was everything a hall of famer should be: an all-time-great on the field and a charitable, selfless person away from it,” the statement reads. “We will miss him dearly.”
–With files from The Canadian Press