RIP Oscar Tavares

Another tragic loss was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday with the death of young Oscar Tavares. What can I say about Oscar that everyone else hasn’t already said? So much talent, so much potential, gone in a flash. His star burned out and his light of his smile was extinguished much too soon. Every action has consequences, and Oscar driving too fast for wet conditions caused his and his girlfriend’s untimely deaths.

The Cardinals may have had division winners and playoff winners, but they’ve also had their share of tragedy since 2002, when both Jack Buck and Darryl Kile died within a few days of each other. Then in 2007, Josh Hancock died in an automobile accident not far from Busch Stadium. Now the Cardinals have lost Oscar, a talented young outfielder, to the claws of Death.

These tragedies bind Cardinal Nation together. These players are like family to us. We invite them into our homes by watching them play ball on our TV screens and listen to the games on the radio. We follow them on Twitter. We miss our guys when winter comes and there is no baseball for a few months. We spend our hard earned money on tickets to Winter Warm-Up, hoping that seeing our boys of summer in person will chase our winter blues away. Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to go to spring training.

The Cards players are like our personal extended family. When something tragic happens to one of them, we grieve like we have lost an immediate family member. When we meet a fellow member of Cardinal Nation for the first time and we start to talk about the Cardinals’ tragedies, we ask, “Do you remember where you were when you heard about Oscar? About Josh? About Darryl?” It reminds me of the question that my generation asks other members, “Do you remember where you were when JFK was shot?” As for when I was when I heard that Oscar had died, we were watching the movie (ironically) God’s Not Dead. My sister-in-law called and told us that Oscar had died in an automobile accident. I hurried up and got on Facebook and Twitter to discover the horrible news was true. Everyone was in shock and was extremely sad.

When Opening Day comes next season and we look at right field without Oscar there, we will miss him all over again. We will think about his talent and his untimely death. Like the sad words from the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these, it might have been.” What might have been? We’ll never know now.

As Oscar’s untimely death shows, your life can end at any time. Don’t miss an opportunity to tell your family and friends you love them. And think about where you will spend eternity, should your life end. There are only two choices. I pray you make the right one.


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