Tony Fernandez, a member of the Toronto Blue Jays’ 1993 World Series-winning team, died Saturday. He was 57.
A five-time MLB All-Star, he had been hospitalized since late January with a kidney issue, and MLB Insider Hector Gomez reported from the Dominican Republic that he had suffered a stroke.
“The Toronto Blue Jays are deeply saddened by the passing of Tony Fernandez today, one of our club’s most celebrated and respected players,” the team said in a statement released on Sunday. “Enshrined forever in Blue Jays history on the Level of Excellence, Tony left an equally indelible mark in the hearts of a generation of Blue Jays fans during his 12 unforgettable seasons with the team. His impact on the baseball community in Toronto and across Canada is immeasurable. Our deepest condolences are with the Fernandez family during this time.”
Former MLB player Tony Fernandez has died. He suffered a brain stroke and Kidney complications.
Fernandez was selected to 5 All Star Games, won 4 Gold Glove and a World Series with Toronto Blue Jays (1993).
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) February 16, 2020
Toronto’s all-time leader in numerous categories including games played (1,450), hits (1,583), WAR among position players (37.5) and defensive WAR (12.4), the shortstop had four separate stints with the Blue Jays throughout his 18-year MLB career. He won Gold Glove awards in four straight seasons with the Jays (1986-89) and was a three-time All-Star with the club.
He played for the Padres, Mets, Reds, Yankees, Indians and Brewers before retiring after the 2001 season and finished with a .288/.347/.399 slash line in 2,158 games. Fernandez had seven hits and nine RBIs in the Blue Jays’ 1993 World Series victory over the Phillies. He was on the losing end of the Fall Classic with the Indians in 1997 vs. the Marlins.
Signed by the Blue Jays in 1979, Fernandez is also the reason Derek Jeter got an early start to his Hall of Fame career; he fractured his elbow in spring training with the Yankees in 1996, giving the young shortstop the starting job.
Inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, Fernandez was added to the Blue Jays Level of Excellence in 2001 in his final season in baseball and Toronto.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum released the following statement:
“We are heartbroken to learn that Tony Fernandez has passed away. Tony was a baseball legend in every sense. He was a five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner, a World Series champion and the Toronto Blue Jays’ all-time hits leader, but more importantly he was a gentle and thoughtful man who was always quick to pray for someone that he sensed needed help. When he was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2008, he gave a very moving and inspiring speech that many of us still talk about today.
“We are grateful that in the years that followed, Tony continued to be a strong supporter of our museum who returned regularly to our annual induction ceremony. In my view, Tony was everything a Hall of Famer should be: an all-time great on the field and a charitable, selfless person away from it. We will miss him dearly.”
Fans, athletes and members of the media quickly took to Twitter to express their grief on his death.
This is heartbreaking. He was a kind soul, and a supremely talented player. One of my favourite Jays ever. May he Rest In Peace. https://t.co/KymoklZ1FD
— Dan Shulman (@DShulman_ESPN) February 16, 2020
My heart is so heavy at the loss of former teammate, friend, and Champion Tony Fernandez. My prayers go out to his wife and their entire family. I will never forget this man. He influenced my life in a positive way. He made everyone around him better. RIP my brother. pic.twitter.com/lMZpgYqKed
— Todd Stottlemyre (@ToddStottlemyre) February 16, 2020
One of the greatest homegrown Blue Jays is gone. Tony Fernandez has passed away at the age of 57. Condolences to his family, his fans, his former teammates.
— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) February 16, 2020
RIP Tony Fernandez, one of my favourite Jays ever. Loved how effortless he made hard grounders look and those slap singles. Man, he was great.
— Jeff Marek (@JeffMarek) February 16, 2020
RIP Tony Fernandez. One of my very first favorite players I remember having as a little kid. I insisted on doing his looping sidearm throw on every ground ball, whether it needed it or not. Never did make it look as good as he could.
— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) February 16, 2020
I’m so sorry to hear about Tony Fernandez passing. A great teammate and friend. A pitchers dream to have him at shortstop when your pitching. One of the best ever. R.I.P. my friend.
— david wells (@BoomerWells33) February 16, 2020
RIP Tony Fernandez. Fielded shortstop like Ozzie Smith, just a beautiful fielder and accomplished spray-hitting guy, part of the best 1-through-4 of his day in San Diego: Fernandez, Gwynn, Sheffield, Crime Dog.
Wrote about them for SI in early nineties.
— Peter King (@peter_king) February 16, 2020
RIP for my former @BlueJays teammate Tony Fernandez …remarkable player (5 time All Star – 4 Gold Gloves) …kind, gentle giant of a man. Soft spoken and a true professional. Thoughts & prayers to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/YlbL7L0rsc
— Dan Plesac (@Plesac19) February 16, 2020