Last night, I was at a baseball event where Paul Beeston was speaking. One of the topics he spoke about was Tony Fernandez and being at Fernandez’s funeral in the Dominican Republic last week.
Beeston and his wife were in attendance as were former Blue Jays George Bell, Jesse Barfield, Damaso Garcia, Alfredo Griffin, and Mariano Duncan. Griffin, who was traded from Toronto because of Fernandez’s arrival, and Duncan were pallbearers. Unfortunately, Beeston said Garcia was not doing very well and is having trouble recognizing people.
After a viewing in Santo Domingo, Fernandez’s coffin was brought back to his hometown of San Pedro De Macoris for the public funeral. Very appropriately, it was held at the on a baseball diamond. Estadio Tetelo Vargas, the ballpark around the corner from where Fernandez grew up and lived, saw a gathering of Fernandez’s teammates, friends, family, and fans.
Although he played for seven teams, it was clear that Fernandez was a Blue Jay at heart. His memorial photo had him in a Toronto uniform (specifically from his 1998-1999 stint) and a framed Blue Jays home jersey stood beside his Dominican flag-draped coffin. The stage around his coffin was surrounded by white flowers and the flags of the Dominican Republic, Canada, and the Blue Jays. The anthems of the two nations that Fernandez called home were played to start the ceremony.
At the funeral, Beeston recalled that he went to speak with Fernandez after Tony had made a costly error in game 7 that likely cost Cleveland the 1997 World Series. Tony was upset, of course, but he told Paul: “Better me than anybody else, ‘cause I’ve got the Lord.”
You can watch a bit of the footage from the funeral here: