I want to begin this by saying that I’m totally unqualified to write this piece. I didn’t know Oscar Taveras. I never met him. The closest I ever came was being in the same stadium in which he happened to be playing. I’m just a fan of a baseball team and a player.
And yet, I’m heart-broken.
Growing up in St. Louis with a baseball-loving dad has attached me to the Cardinals (and their players) at a deep, emotional level. We all have moments we can point back to and say “I remember exactly where I was when…” For some, these moments are reserved for tragedy. But for others, these can be moments of joy. Many of the most memorable moments of my life have happened at Busch Stadium.
I will always remember Adam Wainwright throwing a curveball by Brandon Inge to end the 2006 World Series and turning to hug my dad as the city of St. Louis erupted for their Cardinals. I can still visualize watching David Freese round the bases after his heroic 11th-inning home run as the deafening roars of Cardinal Nation surrounded us. These are emotional, visceral memories for me.
I have another now. Not one of joy, but one of deep, gut-wrenching sorrow. I’ll always remember where I was when I read the first tweet confirming the tragic passing of Taveras and his girlfriend.
Then my mind was called to another moment.
It was a cool, cloudy day in St. Louis. The excitement at Busch Stadium was palpable. The Cardinals had just called up Oscar Taveras, the heralded prospect of a thousand legends. He would be making his debut, a moment fans had been anticipating for years.
I was with two friends from high school. We had already discussed the idea that it could be a day we all remembered. And after his mammoth, rain-making home run, we screamed with the rest of St. Louis for the arrival of a star. I believe I speak for my friends when I say we’ll always remember that moment in time. And I want it to be a memory of joy. But it won’t. I’ll look back and have two distinct memories of Oscar Taveras, both gut-wrenching for their own reasons.
But I take solace in one thing. In that moment, Oscar was probably happier then he had ever been. And I got to share it with him, even if it was in an indirect way. It’s silly, but I felt tied to him because of that moment.
You can argue that I’m irrational. You can tell me that I’m ridiculous.
But you can’t tell me that this tie I
felt still feel isn’t affecting me now in a very real way. I will never be able to explain it with words. But it hurts. A lot.
Thank you, Oscar, for the smile and the joy with which you played. I never knew you.
But, man… I’ll miss you.