Millions of baseball fans who grew up during the 1980s, especially those who cheered for the Toronto Blue Jays, wanted to be Tony Fernandez.
And why wouldn’t they?
His impeccable defensive abilities at shortstop. Those long, looping, accurate throws to first base. Elegant speed on the basepaths. And a knack for a big hit in crunch time.
That was Tony Fernandez in a nutshell.
Fernandez passed away this weekend at age 57 after he suffered a stroke and was reportedly taken off life support.
Earlier this year, the Blue Jays’ all-time leader in games played, hits, singles and triples, was hospitalized due to complications from kidney disease and was placed in a medically induced coma.
Fernandez, from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, was one of the finest Major League Baseball players from Latin America of his generation, whose success paved the way for future stars such as Roberto Alomar and Carlos Delgado.
The five-time all-star and four-time gold glove award winner played for seven different teams during his 17-year big league career (1983-2001), including three stints with Toronto, and was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Fernandez may not be considered one of the best Blue Jays ever — a designation that belongs to the likes of Hall of Famers Alomar and Roy Halladay — but the lanky shortstop is regarded as one of the franchise’s all-time favourite players and one who will never be forgotten.