Sharing that he received the phone call from International Director Moises Rodriguez about 6:30pm on Sunday night, St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak was “shocking, and stunned, and saddened” to learn of the passing of Oscar Taveras.
“Your first thoughts just kind of goes to sort of the value life and how you think about the importance of it,” said Mozeliak via conference call on Monday. “I wasn’t thinking about baseball, I wasn’t thinking about next year–I was thinking about here’s a young man, that had a tremendous smile that wanted to be part of this organization. My last conversation with him was about spending time in Jupiter this offseason. We laid out a detailed plan and he was actually going to show up a week from now. To have all that behind us–you reflect on all your memories of it. What he meant to you, the relationship–getting to know him and how it grew.”
This is the third time since 2002 the St. Louis Cardinals have had to deal with the sudden and tragic loss of a teammate as Daryl Kile (’02) and Josh Hancock (’07) also passed away.
“Every situation is different,” explained Mozeliak. “Think back to the past two experiences we had, they were in season. Where this was offseason–you’re always thinking about what players need to do or what they should be thinking about doing, but you almost feel like everything is safe because they’re going back home and they’re in that environment. Going back, it just sort of shocked me to hear this. How we pull this team together and what we do–a lot of this will come down to answering text messages, picking up the phone and calling, and just being able to reach out and connect.
“I can tell you, I’ve heard from a lot of players–I think Mike has heard from almost every one of them. Everybody is saddened by this loss, but I do know that one of things that Mike does his job in the clubhouse is keeping guys together and stresses the value of what a team and family means. I think in a situation like this, it’s invaluable.”
Mozeliak and Mike Matheny flew down to the Puerto Plata early this morning to join Rodriguez in grieving and providing support to the families of Taveras and Edilia Arvelo. No new details have been uncovered in regards to why or how the car accident occurred.
There is a public viewing this evening in the Dominican Republic and a private burial service is scheduled for tomorrow.
“People are aware,” commented Mozeliak of the local reaction. “Oscar was a big name in this region. A lot of people looked at him as one of the next great players. I think you can tell in this town and this area felt the loss.”
Plans for a memorial or event to honor Taveras in St. Louis have yet to be fully determined by the Cardinals at this point, but Mozeliak confirmed something will be organized.
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports