Oscar: One Year Later

A year ago I raced to my desktop to check a rumor of frightening proportions. Only a few days prior my beloved St. Louis Cardinals had been bounced from the playoffs by the eventual World Series champion Giants. The horrible news confirmed that we lost right fielder Oscar Taveras in an automobile accident. The accident also claimed the life of his girlfriend.

I obviously do not support the actions of Oscar on that night, nor can I ignore the additional loss of life as a result of his bad judgment. It was a mistake and if he were alive today, he would be more than willing to own up to it. But he can’t. So the fans of other teams who use that as trash talk, find something better to ridicule us St. Louis fans with. We don’t honor his mistake, we honor lives cut too short and a player who teased us with his talent and what could have been.

As a lifelong fan, I know what trials the Cardinals have been through when it comes to losing players, whether it was their fault or not. Darryl Kile would be the exception to this rule, as his death was a medical issue. I vividly remember the loss of pitcher Josh Hancock. Another life and career cut short because of driving under the influence.

Oscar was a happy guy. His personality would shine through the clubhouse. He would befriend just about everyone, but no one more-so than Carlos Martinez. The same Carlos Martinez that made the All-Star team this year and solidified himself as a potential ace of the future. I’m going to be completely honest, I was worried about the well-being of Martinez the night of Oscar’s passing. He was able to piece himself together to put on a season he will never forget. Oscar is proud of you and so are all of us.

I’m here today to speak on the fact that everyday decisions can change everything. Oscar’s decision was a poor one, but not deserving of two lives. Life is fragile and baseball is a game. When I look back on the life of Oscar Taveras, I want to remember his smile, his talent and how much he wanted to be a Cardinal. I want to remember that last at-bat, that beautiful home run. I remember Oscar the right fielder. Oscar was on his way to becoming a young, emerging star in the Majors. His death is a reminder to us all that none of us are invincible. Take each day and seize your opportunity. Learn from the mistakes that you have made and learn from others as well.

In the end, wishful thinking or denial cannot change what happened a year ago. Oscar and his girlfriend would get to take one more “Happy Flight”…upstairs. Say hello to Stan, Jack and Yogi for us, bud. We miss you.