Former Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Tony Fernandez is dead at the age of 57.
The five-time MLB All-Star was in a medically induced coma and passed away on Sunday after being removed from life support, according to reports.
Fernandez died while in Weston, Florida, with family members gathered around at the time. The Blue Jays star holds club records with Toronto for both games played and career hits.
After the news of his passing arrived, former teammates paid tribute to Fernandez.
Fernandez had All-Star career with Toronto
He was born in the Dominican Republic and played high school ball there. Fernandez ended up in the big league in 1983 at age 21 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
He’d get off to a slow start in terms of appearances and at-bats, but by 1986 he started picking up steam.
In that season, Fernandez played in 163 games and recorded 687 at-bats, the most for his career in any season. That season included 213 hits and 91 runs, also career-bests. It generated his first-ever appearance as an MLB All-Star.
That was one of five for Fernandez. He’d return as an All-Star in 1987, 1989, 1992, and 1999 with Toronto. Fernandez called it a career in 2001 with the Blue Jays.
He also spent time playing for San Diego, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and both New York baseball teams.
In addition to his five All-Star appearances, Fernandez was awarded the Gold Glove four times in his career and was part of the World Series-winning Blue Jays team in 1993.
Rest In Peace legendary Blue Jays shortstop Tony Fernandez. Our thoughts and prays are with your family and your legacy as a Blue Jay will live on forever. pic.twitter.com/afXz1tmsg2
— Toronto Blue Jays (@T0r0nt0BlueJays) February 16, 2020
His career stats included a total of 2,276 hits along with 1,057 runs, 833 RBI, 246 stolen bases, 94 home runs, and a .288 batting average, per Baseball-Reference.
Blue Jays organization, former teammate remember Fernandez
The Toronto Blue Jays organization released a statement following the news of Tony Fernandez’s death.
“The Toronto Blue Jays are deeply saddened by the passing of Tony Fernandez, one of our club’s most celebrated and respected players,” the team statement said. “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.”
In memory of Number 1. Forever in our hearts ? pic.twitter.com/lUCfBpc1U3
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) February 16, 2020
Fernandez’s former Blue Jays teammate Joe Carter posted on Twitter following the news.
“So sad to hear about my teammate, friend and W.S. Champion Tony Fernandez this morning. Not only was he a great ball player but a great human being as well. R.I.P. my brother. We will all miss you,” Carter said in his tweet.
So sad to hear about my teammate, friend and W.S. Champion Tony Fernandez this morning. Not only was he a great ball player but a great human being as well. R.I.P. my brother. We will all miss you. pic.twitter.com/XN08dT1xtj
— Joe Carter (@JoeCarter_29) February 16, 2020
Former MLB pitcher David Wells also spent time as Fernandez’s teammate. In his tweet, he referred to Fernandez as “a pitchers dream to have him at shortstop when your pitching. One of the best ever.”
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
Others to pay their respects to Fernandez online included former teammates Roberto Almora and Dan Plesac, among others.
Roberto Alomar was involved in a Blue Jays trade where he went to Toronto, and Fernandez went to the Padres. However, the two became teammates in 1993, the second straight year in which Toronto captured the pennant.
“I am heartbroken by the passing of Tony Fernandez. Tony was a truly special person who cared so much about helping people and making a difference in the lives of others. He was a great friend, teammate, father, husband, and minister. My thoughts and prayers are with his family” pic.twitter.com/0aDcwvHr6d
— Alomar Sports (@AlomarSports) 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
Fernandez battled kidney disease, was on life support
Over the last three years, Tony Fernandez’s health had been deteriorating. According to a TIME report, Fernandez had been suffering from complications from kidney disease.
He had been waiting years to get new kidneys after first being diagnosed in 2017.
The former Blue Jays All-Star was hospitalized earlier this month due to complications with the disease.
Late last month, the health issues were reportedly “serious” for the former baseball star. Per ESPN (via Imrad Hallim director of the Tony Fernandez Foundation), Fernandez was placed in a medically induced coma after developing pneumonia.
Originally on Sunday, reports indicated that Fernandez suffered a stroke while battling his kidney issues, leading to the baseball star’s passing.
However, Fernandez’s wife said that he had been taken off of life support on Sunday, according to Associated Press and other sources.