Two years ago today, Tony Fernandez passed away. He was just 57.
I wish we could see into a universe where Fernandez wasn’t part of the Carter/Alomar trade (can you imagine a middle of the infield with Alomar and Fernandez). It would have been great to have had Fernandez as a lifetime Blue Jay. I’d like to think he would be in the Hall of Fame if he had been.
There were few players I tried to imitate more. That sidearm flip throw, that seemed always to be on target, no matter what angle his body was at was a thing of beauty. The batting stance I didn’t try to copy, he had such a light grip on the bat, I could never make that work.
I still think he was the smoothest shortstop I ever watched.
My favourite memories of him were the rare moments he would allow himself a little smile after making an amazing play.
With the bat, he could slap the ball all over the field. And he could turn on an inside pitch. In some ways he was like Devon White, he ran so smoothly you didn’t realize how fast he was. And defensively he was smooth and had more range than any Jays shortstop we have had since.
One of the worst moments of my baseball fandom was when Bill Madlock took him out with a rolling block in 1987. That Blue Jays team may have been the best we had, before that moment.
When he passed we heard his teammates tell stories about him. Here is Buck Martinez on him:
If you made a list of people to whom I owe my baseball fandom, Tony would be high on the list.