Tony Fernandez, all-star shortstop, has died at the age of 57, the MLB confirmed on Saturday. Fernandez was a beloved player on the Toronto Blue Jays, playing 12 seasons with the team including their World Series-winning team of 1993.
Major League Baseball’s Spanish Twitter account confirmed Fernandez’s death on Saturday, saying he had “left for a better life.” The tweet continues, “He gave us 17 years as a baseball player in #LasMayores and a lifetime of pure baseball.”
Fernandez Died of Kidney Disease Following Years of Kidney Problems
Fernandez had struggled with kidney issues for years and was hospitalized with polycystic kidney disease in 2017. Polycystic kidney disease is a disorder that causes cysts to grow in the kidneys and can eventually lead to kidney failure.
On February 1, the Tony Fernandez Foundation confirmed that the star had been hospitalized in Florida and was in critical condition. Imrad Hallim, the director of the foundation, told The Canadian Press that Fernandez had developed pneumonia and had to be placed in an induced coma to stabilize him.
Fernandez had been on a waiting list for years to receive a new kidney, and had been living on dialysis. Dominican news sites have reported that Fernandez died on Saturday after suffering a stroke as a complication from his kidney disease.
He Was a Loved and Respected Toronto Blue Jays All-Star Shortstop
Fernandez played 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays in a 17-year MLB career, making his MLB debut for the Blue Jays in 1983 at the age of 21. He was also part of the Blue Jays team that won the World Series in 1993.
He is still at the top of the leaderboard for the Toronto Blue Jays, holding the records for most hits (1,583), singles (1,160), triples (72) and games played (1,450). He was a five-time all-star who also received four Gold Glove Awards from 1986 to 1989 with the Blue Jays.
The team posted a statement on Twitter following Fernandez’s death, with the simple yet touching caption “We will miss you, Tony” along with a blue heart emoji.
Fernandez retired in 2001, and was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.
In addition to tributes from the Toronto Blue Jays, messages have been pouring in from across the baseball community, in English and in Spanish. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame issued a statement on Facebook, saying they were “heartbroken” to learn of his death, and praised his character, saying “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 MLB account in the Dominican Republic posted on Twitter, saying Fernandez was a “warrior” in the MLB, and that their thoughts were with his family during this difficult time.
Former teammate Todd Stottlemyre posted that his “heart is so heavy at the loss of former teammate, friend, and Champion Tony Fernandez,” saying he “influenced my life in a positive way. He made everyone around him better.”
Former teammate and current MLB analyst Dan Plesac also posted a tribute to the all-star, saying he was a “kind, gentle giant of a man. Soft spoken and a true professional.”
Fernandez leaves behind his wife Clara and his children Joel, Jonathan Abraham, Andres and Jasmine.