Oscar Taveras just wanted to hit, to swing his bat all day and all night, because it’s what he loved to do. He wanted to hit in a cage or on a field, wherever there was baseball to be played, his unorthodox left-handed stroke connecting with a thwack just a little bit louder than everyone else’s. He didn’t understand that baserunning and fielding mattered as much as they do, and that was OK, because he was 22 years old, still just a kid. He had time to learn.
Taveras died Sunday in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic, news that rocked his family, his friends, his home country and his adoptive world, baseball, which five years after weathering the loss of Nick Adenhart to a wreck tried to wrap its head around another player leaving far too early.
Sadness clouded Game 5 of the World Series, the death of Taveras and his girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, starting as a rumor out of the D.R., rat-a-tatting around the Twitter echo chamber and eventually receiving confirmation from Taveras’ agent and his team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Details were sparse. They mattered little.